Ego! Can you deal with it?

Ego! Can you deal with it?
November 18, 2019

The relationship with our own ego is fundamental for our happiness. It is central to how we deal with everything in life. So many times ego has been described as an enemy we are in a constant battle with or confused with self-confidence. In fact, according to psychology it is a natural part of us and we need to get to know it well in order to understand its function which will help us have a more balanced approach to it and ultimately - have a healthy relationship with our ego.

The structure of our psyche

We can imagine the structure of our psyche as consisting of three parts – the subconscious is on the bottom, then the ego comes and the superego is on the top. The subconscious contains our instincts, the aggressive and sexual impulses, as well as our suppressed memories. The superego contains our ideal vision of ourselves. The ego is our identity – our behavior, our relations with the world and it depends to a large extent on the way we balance between the subconscious and the superego. We cannot ignore either of them. That is why we as humans are such complex creatures – we are woven of contradictory impulses, desires and needs. It is really hard but vital to find and maintain a relative balance between them in a healthy way.

The natural need to feel significant and valuable

Our ego is tightly connected with our need to feel significant, special and valuable. This a natural need for all of us. When in our childhood our parents express their love for us, treat us with respect and use the right approaches in our upbringing to help us build a solid, healthy sense of self-worth, we start feeling confident and valuable deep within ourselves.


 

The relationship with our own ego is fundamental for our happiness. It is central to how we deal with everything in life. So many times ego has been described as an enemy we are in a constant battle with or confused with self-confidence. In fact, according to psychology it is a natural part of us and we need to get to know it well in order to understand its function which will help us have a more balanced approach to it and ultimately - have a healthy relationship with our ego.

The structure of our psyche

We can imagine the structure of our psyche as consisting of three parts – the subconscious is on the bottom, then the ego comes and the superego is on the top. The subconscious contains our instincts, the aggressive and sexual impulses, as well as our suppressed memories. The superego contains our ideal vision of ourselves. The ego is our identity – our behavior, our relations with the world and it depends to a large extent on the way we balance between the subconscious and the superego. We cannot ignore either of them. That is why we as humans are such complex creatures – we are woven of contradictory impulses, desires and needs. It is really hard but vital to find and maintain a relative balance between them in a healthy way.

The natural need to feel significant and valuable

Our ego is tightly connected with our need to feel significant, special and valuable. This a natural need for all of us. When in our childhood our parents express their love for us, treat us with respect and use the right approaches in our upbringing to help us build a solid, healthy sense of self-worth, we start feeling confident and valuable deep within ourselves. 


Psychologists have made a list of the usual defense mechanisms of the ego. You can check whether you or the people around you use any of these mechanisms in stressful situations:

Acting out–expressing an emotion or urge without being aware of it

Compensation—offsetting your weaknesses by doing the opposite, counterbalancing, making up for them

Denial—refusing to accept the obvious truth in an unpleasant situation; insisting on the opposite; contradicting the evidence.

Displacement—channeling emotions onto another target rather the one that produced it; transferring feelings onto somebody more acceptable/closer/ less threatening

Distortion—substantial, grotesque alteration of events or reality

Fantasy—escaping the reality by focusing inwards, imagining revenge or your own death; excessive day dreaming

Humour—expressing otherwise unpleasant thoughts in a humorous way for pleasure; making fun of bad situation

Hypochondriasis—complaining of unknown illnesses; constantly worrying and talking about health issues as a reaction to negative feelings towards others

Idealization—refusing to see the negatives in others; praising something or someone; putting them on a pedestal

Identification—role modeling; taking on behavioral patterns of another person; moulding oneself on other

Intellectualization—objectively explaining the events; using logic to justify the situation

Introjection—relating to ideas; associating with objects or other people so much they become part of you

Isolation—isolating the emotional and rational part of the event; talking about traumatic experiences without displaying feelings

Passive aggression-—expressing your anger and frustration indirectly to other people

Projection—imputing your own negative qualities, emotions, behavioral motivations to others

Rationalization—giving false rational or logical reasons for behavioral or situational outcomes, i.e. when you fail to get something, saying that you did not even want it that much

Reaction Formation—reacting in an opposite way to the emotion, reversing the feeling

Regression—acting childishly; throwing tantrums; reverting to an earlier stage of development

Repression—preventing unpleasant ideas or memories to reach conscious awareness; blocking them

Suppression—pushing away unpleasant feelings to the unconscious, bottling up anxiety, keeping the traumatic feelings inside in order not to think about them.

Ego is like a fearful child whom our soul, like a wise and loving parent, has to calm down and direct

Ego is not our enemy. It is trying to protect our sense of self-worth, albeit with unsuccessful and wrong methods, and defend the familiar territory of our habitual behavioral models and way of thinking. It is afraid of changes even if these changes are beneficial for us. However, we do not need to fight with our ego. If we think of it as a fearful child, we need to be the wise, understanding and correcting parent it needs. So the first step is to realize that we are not our ego. It is part of us, but we are bigger than it. We are an entity of body, mind, spirit and soul. Our soul contains our wisdom, or in other words - the internal, wise parent that we become to ourselves if we really grow and reach maturity in our way of thinking.

There are different ways in which we can substitute the old, outdated defense mechanisms of our ego with healthy attitudes, approaches and coping strategies. Psychological books, seminars, workshops and individual consultations with therapists, actually, anything that awakens our consciousness and helps us connect with our soul is good and beneficial to our development.



Daily self-observation and conversations with other people who have started their journey of self-knowledge or have already gained a lot of experience in it are like vital nutrition to our soul, success as human beings and happiness. If you would like to learn more about some good coping strategies as well as the ego of different types of people according to their prevalent element Air, Fire or Earth

Author:Mariya V.Dimitrova