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Please Stop Bashing Your Ego

unhappy girl looking in mirrorI hate the word “Ego.”

I have nothing against Sigmund Freud. He named those three conceptual pieces of us Id (child self), Ego (mediating self) and Superego (internalized authority figure).

Freud wasn’t the first to perceive such a distinction, but he was the first to use those names.

Everything seemed okay at first, but during the last century, things went downhill.

The Ego, instead of being the mediator between reality, the Id and the Superego, became something petty that we were supposed to shun.

What Is an Ego, Anyway?

“Oh, it was just my ego talking.”

“My ego always wants to run the show.”

“It’s hard to let go of my ego’s need to be important.”

The Internet is rife with earnest statements like these, and they always-always-always rub me ever so slightly the wrong way.

“Ego” is the Latin word for “I.” That’s it. Nothing else. It’s not some nefarious villain hijacking our higher selves, looking to ruin our lives by turning us into childish monsters.

Substitute the simple English words I and Me for the statements above:

“Oh, it was just me talking.”

“I always want to run the show.”

“It’s hard to let go of my need to be important.”

Now that we’ve closed the distance between you and this thing called your ego, how does it feel to say those things about yourself?

If it feels uncomfortable, maybe it’s because the inherent self-criticism in those statements is finding its true mark.

It’s one thing to notice when your behavior isn’t meeting your personal values. It’s quite another to take pot-shots at your very Self. Not surprisingly, it doesn’t feel good.

If you live a normal life, your feelings will get hurt from time to time. That’s unavoidable.

But you don’t have to be the one hurting your own feelings.

Never Let Go of Your Ego

You can no more let go of your ego than you can let go of your own skeleton.

The truth is, there’s nothing wrong with your ego. You’ve been sold a lie.

Embrace your ego. It’s YOU.

You are not such a bad person that you need to be kept in check all the time, and constantly criticized for your faults.

So you spare a thought for yourself? Good! Someone needs to spare a thought for you.

So you want to feel important and special? Who the heck doesn‘t want that?

So you want to run the show of your own life? Good for you! You’re an adult; it’s your responsibility to run your own life.

What is so danged WRONG with being who you are, feeling how you feel, wanting what you want? … Which is to say, with having an ego?

If you didn’t have an ego, you wouldn’t be the unique, lovable, human individual you are, with dreams and aspirations to fulfill.

So please don’t bash your ego in front of me. Criticize your behavior if you must, but don’t get so goll-darn personal about it.

Photo courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

About Tina Gilbertson

Tina Gilbertson is a psychotherapist, speaker and author based in Denver, Colorado. She specializes in supporting parents of estranged adult children through therapy, consulting and other resources, and offers assertiveness training and executive coaching for organizations. The author of "Constructive Wallowing: How to Beat Bad Feelings by Letting Yourself Have Them" and the "Guide for Parents of Estranged Adult Children," Tina is often featured in the media as an expert on communication and relationships. Her blog on PsychologyToday.com is called "Constructive Wallowing."

0 Responses to "Please Stop Bashing Your Ego"

  • Sara
    August 17, 2013 - 10:42 am Reply

    Thank you Tina. I feel we all need our story told. Look what we are doing on the this web. We all at some point in our life need Validation. I feel there are people that need this more than other. These people usually are not willing to do the same to others. I feel if we are as realistic about others we should be realistic about our self as well. I find the person who is willing to spill his or her beans has been doing so in and out of therapy. My feeling is people who have good relationship with there family are less likely to spill there beans or need to be Validated.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      August 17, 2013 - 11:46 am Reply

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Sara. I agree that we all need validation, and I would say that most people who have a healthy relationship with their families have generally received enough validation from those families that they can offer that to others as well as themselves. Thanks again for stopping by and sharing your thoughts.

  • Forever Mom
    August 17, 2013 - 6:43 pm Reply

    I feel ego can be a positive force but it’s the false sense of ego that is negative “Me, me” cause unhappiness. I came from a culture where my parents did not serve all our needs like we did for our children to build our children’s ego. Our parents were blunt and honest to the point of being cruel but they were always HONEST. We never received cherry on top to build our ego but they were always there if we fell. We never questioned them but accepted them with respect & love & far more content than our children are to us. My children’s generation were raised my our generation & I am guilty I thought we were right at the time. We were cheering and trying to build our children’s ego and I feel we have paid a very heavy price. We created a “me, me generation of unhappy a young adult, high on the ego & borderline narcissist. No wonder we are see epidemic promotion of Estrangement ! To much of Ego is just as bad as to little. All forms of relationship is a work in progress.
    Freud has been dead since 1939, his work is incredibly out of date yet till today every thing gets dumped on parents, making the parents responsible for all the ills. The parents are the scapegoats that fills the deep gravy bowls. Most of his work was THEORY & seldom questioned. This is something the new generation of psychology need to work on.

    • Tina Gilbertson
      August 20, 2013 - 5:19 pm Reply

      Forever Mom, I’m like you: As far as I know, my parents didn’t do anything in particular to build my ego as a child, but I’ve always loved and respected them. Their honesty didn’t feel brutal to me, but if it did I’m sure I would try to ignore that fact in order to preserve my love for them.

      I don’t think that cheering and putting cherries on top are the way to go with kids either, but I’m not convinced that those are quite the same thing as building their egos.

      In fact I believe that kind of cheering-regardless-of-how-they’re-really-doing just might create the “false ego” you talk about which, I agree, leads to unhappiness.

      Thank you very much for visiting.

  • Julian Jacobs
    September 30, 2013 - 3:23 am Reply

    Thank you SO MUCH, Tina!

    Feel one with your words completely! And, It makes me (my higher self) feel incredibly sad when people ego bash, “false” ego or no. The way I see it, this whole physical life is a “mask” we put on to have this physical experience, but without it we couldn’t experience this life at all. I grew up in a family and community that didn’t build up my ego either… in fact, I was required to die to myself, my ego, everyday. This was a huge reason why I “left” my family and their beliefs behind. I don’t actually call myself new age because I have a huge problem with all the ego bashing because for me it’s the same as the requirement I had as a child. My higher self is very parent like, in the way they my parents failed to be, and protective of my ego. Through my feelings of anger and depression that I feel when others around me ego bash, my higher self lets me know that doing that is not Who I Am. So I’m letting go of my society’s proclaimed “need” to prove that I’m good and not evil. Because I’ve discovered that my Truth is that I am neither born in Sin nor in Goodness. I Am neither good nor evil, light nor dark, etc. I Am neutral. I Am whatever I choose to be in any given moment. This frees me to love and accept and affirm my “false” ego as much as I love and accept and affirm my “true” ego. They’re two sides of the same coin. The bride and groom of Who I Am. They make up and are the completed Me! 🙂 And, I LOVE Me. 🙂

    Always And Forever,

    Julian

    • Tina Gilbertson
      September 30, 2013 - 12:20 pm Reply

      Thank you for your enthusiasm, Julian! I like how you put it when you said you’re letting go of society’s need for you to prove you’re good and not evil. That sounds very freeing. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience and your thoughts — I’m glad you stopped by.

  • rahul
    February 18, 2014 - 11:53 pm Reply

    so true dude. Thanks for helping me build my ego. Now i can change the world.

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