People tend to use pride and ego interchangeably to describe a person raging with arrogance, selfishness, and stubbornness. In reality, these two terms are much different from one another even though they are not exclusive. We all carry pride and ego but where people differ is in how we deal with it.
I noticed this to be a common struggle amongst everyone I’ve met in a new city. If you are serious about self-healing and breaking negative patterns in your life, the first step in doing so is in gaining self-awareness. Sounds easy but it is actually a difficult skill that most people lack.
Ego versus Pride
According to Psychology Today, ego is the Latin word for “I.” Therefore, if you were to write I love you in Latin, you’d write ego amo te.
The ego is an internal force that allows you to experience and perceive an event in a unique and separate manner from others – helping you to establish identity.
We need our ego to protect us from dangerous conformity; therefore, do not confuse this post as some ode to completely dismantle ego as a whole. However, an ego left unchecked can also isolate you from creating meaningful relationships and connections.
Pride is a feeling of satisfaction from accomplishments and motivates you to strive to be your best self as well as drive inspiration. It establishes quality, engrains motivation, and fuels self-worth.
Alternatively, ego constantly pushes you to prove superiority over others to establish worth (e.g., much like machismo culture over women). Therefore, what you want to do is to check in to see if your decision, emotions, and actions are based on genuine pride and respect or straight-up ego.
Taming the Monster
I am no psychologist, but perhaps an inflated ego appeases our inner, wounded child or gives us a high from thinking our shit doesn’t stink. Either way, having an ego run amuck can prevent us from finding common ground and empathy with others. In addition, it makes us forget the importance of love and unity by constantly inflating ourselves as a protection mechanism (e.g., Fear is the heart of machismo culture and ego is the lungs).
Though pride is meant to be positive by definition, when you couple it with ego, you create a monster! This heavy spirit wants to win in all games that do not even exist. Though I admire those that go against the grain, sometimes not paying attention to the ego mess left behind can leave you alone and resentful. As for everything in life, balance is key!
To check your ego demon, the following tactics can help:
- Therapy – To understand how to leash up those pesky ego demons, you must first learn what brought them to existence. The more you know about yourself, the more power you have over it. Using a professional to guide you through this process – no matter how painful – will be an essential resource in overcoming and preventing ego possession. Therapy is a helpful and pivotal tool in discovering the why behind your ego and healthy ways to heal from it.
- Reframing – Mel Robbins taught me to note my physical reactions and their correlation to my emotional/mental states. By doing so, I eventually learned (through practice) how to stop myself before the spiral of emotional thoughts – garnered by depression/anxiety – took over. Giving in to the whispers of the ego – even though they are conclusions based on one sole reality – will trigger you to protect that inner child. Even if you do have an episode of wild emotions, her techniques to gain control are just as useful.
- Education – Constantly educating yourself to elevate your emotional intelligence will help you gain control over your life. So much so that when others trespass a boundary despite whatever hot emotion you feel, you can calmly and appropriately react accordingly. Ego would have you flip on someone instantly just to gain the satisfaction of safety. However, it is really you allowing the outside world to control you.
All three tools have made me the woman I am today. Of course, the negative and self-destructive learned behaviors may come out of the woodwork every so often. But for the most part, I finally have power over the majority of my lowest bouts of depression/anxiety.
Gaining control is a superpower that did not come to me through lightning. I had to practice until my emotional breakdowns were far from in-between.
Even around those that do not suffer from anxiety or depression, I can quickly identify who is mature in their emotional health versus those who let their demons run rampant.
These people rummage through life unaware of the monster on their back. They live in a constant state of frustration, negativity, and fear. Instead of taking responsibility, they blame and burden the outside world with their baggage.
As baffling as it may be, each person is on their own mental health/spiritual journey so it is not for me to judge. All I can do is be a resource or determine if backing away will protect my wellbeing.