Ego. A word that we hear and use quite often. Your friend didn’t talk to you after that fight. Reason: Ego. That colleague won’t give you the papers you need unless you pester him about it. Why? Because he is so full of himself. He is egoistic.
What does that “Ego” really mean?
We generally refer to the ego as having a very high regard for the self or giving utmost importance to the needs and feelings of self over everything else in a given situation. This approach towards life is generally seen as a negative one and is often not appreciated. It can ruin our social well-being and jeopardize relationships if not taken care of.
This is what we all know of ego and how it can affect our lives.
But psychology talks of ego in a different sense.
The term “Ego” was coined by Sigmund Friend when he was explaining his famous theory of Psychoanalysis. And this word is accompanied by two other words known as Id and Superego.
According to psychoanalysis, the id, ego, and superego govern our behavior. The “Id” is instinct, impulse, or pleasure-driven, the “Ego” works on the reality principle and the “Superego” is based on our ethics and moral values. Any one of these 3 factors influences our behavior and decisions in any situation.
Remember the last time you gave in to having the amazing dessert while trying to eat healthily? That is because your pleasure instinct (Id) dominated the ego and superego.
Do you know how some people are very hung up about doing things a certain way? For example, they always feel bad for prioritizing themselves over others even if it is a necessity because they believe being that way is being selfish. This could be because their superego is very strong and influences their perspective a lot of times.
Ego, on the other hand, does the job of balancing out the domination of these two factors. It works on the reality principle and so helps us weigh the pros and cons of doing or not doing something and therefore making an informed decision. It prevents us from getting into trouble because, in extremities, both Id and Superego could cause issues.
This implies that ego is a very essential and important part of our functioning and in fact has a positive role to play in our behavior.
Isn’t this part of ego interesting?
Then why do we normally see it as an undesirable quality or characteristic to have?
Well, that is because we are not referring to “Ego” in its real sense whenever we use the word ego!
Okay, I know this sounds confusing. Here’s how this works.
When we say a person is egoistic we mean that that particular person does things according to their wish and they do it even if it is wrong and pays the most importance to themselves over anything else. But if we closely look at this behavior of that person, we would realize that they are actually driven by their impulses and pleasures. Which means, they have a dominant Id!
So what we mean when we say “Egoistic” is that they need to get their Id right and work on improving their Ego!
Now that’s funny!
When I first learned about this concept, I found it confusing to see how both the Egos have very different meanings.
This brings forth another question that if we have been using this word wrong for so long, can we correct its usage especially when it is so widely used that way?
Of course, it is not practically possible to change the usage everywhere. But I thought this would be a fun fact for all of us to know about ego.
At least, going forward, we would remember that ego is basically our mind’s mechanism to keep us from getting into trouble.
Being self-centered or having a little ego to keep ourselves protected in places where our respect is at stake or to save ourselves from being taken for granted is necessary. These qualities are not negative at all as long as they serve that purpose. All we need to be aware of is to not let it overpower our personality or not let it come in the way of anything and everything we do!
This might hinder our growth in ways that are beyond our imagination.
Anyone should learn and know how to deal with the negative qualities that we might unknowingly possess or how to manage if someone else’s behavior tends to hurt us in the way being selfish or self-obsessed does and to learn these is for another blog post later!
I really wanted to write something fun and light-hearted and this article was my attempt at that. I hope you liked it.
Thank you so much for reading through this and I’ll see you next Sunday with another blog post!