An ego is not necessarily a good or bad thing. The word “ego” was originally Latin meaning ”I.” We all need a healthy ego to survive or even thrive. But while other personality attributes are sometimes rated on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest rating, an ideal ego reflects a healthy balance of self-serving qualities with merits that tend to be more selfless. For example, perhaps a 5, 6 or 7 on a scale of 10 is optimal in rating a healthy ego, while a 10 is over the top—and likely represents an egoist or narcissist.
Why is a 10 rating detrimental to our best interests? Because when your ego takes control of your every move, you actually become a slave to its demands. Not only this, but an overly egotistical disposition makes a person intolerable to others. Of course this isn’t you, but almost everyone has experienced watching a friend’s eyes glaze over when we’re talking—and if we’re good at picking up cues—we realize that we’ve been running on a bit about our accomplishments and good fortune. Even if she (or he) is too kind to tell you to your face, when you monopolize conversations by talking about yourself in glowing terms, your listeners are bored and might also be offended.
Here are a few self-checks to see whether your ego is taking control or if the real you is in charge…
The 100% unfiltered ego:
- Needs to be right—all the time. Is incapable of an apology or admission of a mistake.
- Needs to be the best. It’s more important to win than to play the game with fairness.
- Is easily offended. Relationships are fragile and easily broken.
- Is losing sight of an inner self—sometimes called a conscience or a soul. Deep inside feels afraid, worried, depressed, or angry due to a loss of peace of mind.
On the other hand, the healthy ego:
- Is open-minded—more concerned about learning from experience than being right or wrong. Keeps a sense of humor, admits mistakes, and continues to advance at her (or his) own pace.
- Competes only with the self in working on self-improvement. Doesn’t get involved in petty comparisons with others. Likes to help others succeed and is happy for their achievements.
- Stands up for herself (or himself) with assertiveness when important boundaries are crossed, but let’s go of minor offenses. More concerned with a win-win outcome than proving superiority and perfection, an impossible task.
- Is self-aware and at peace with her (or his) inner growth, because it aligns with her (or his) values, integrity, and potential for happiness.
Examples of female over-the top 100% narcissists are rare if indeed any at all exist. But it seems as women we’re more pressured all the time to be at the top of our game in every facet of our lives—an often unhealthy aspect of perfectionism. So if your ego seems a little tarnished—from trying to maintain an image that conflicts with the human being inside—a little auto correct will set things right, allowing your authentic self to shine.
Mary Kathryn “M.K.” Jones
Writer/Producer/Speaker, Founder of Women Who Walk the Talk™