“I may not be much, but I’m all I think about”! Most of our thoughts center around job, possessions, money, or other things we have accumulated. If we tell someone about this and believe this is our true self, we will be told about our ego problems. Ego is often considered a liability. Yet we must have ego in order to function as humans. The ego is the compass that helps guide us in the determination of right from wrong. It helps us make decisions in life.
Where do we go wrong with ego? People with huge egos are generally considered those who have an insatiable desire to demonstrate their own self-importance. Boastfulness is not an admirable trait, regardless of one’s status in life. “Conceited,” “boastful,” “prideful,” “self-centered,” “arrogant,” are all ways that egocentrics are often described by others. When in conversation, egocentrics will almost always try to redirect the conversation back to themselves, and talk about their supposed successes, accomplishments, and achievements. Simply put, they need to look good – and they feed off other people’s validation. They are self -centered and lack empathy for others. An unhealthy egocentric doesn’t see past their own needs and desires.
Characteristics of a person with an exaggerated ego:
- They are always right—at least in their own minds. The person who suffers from a huge ego sees their opinion as the only one that matters. They are driven by what they believe, and facts have little importance to them.
- A person suffering from an inflated ego is never satisfied. They are addicted to the high they get from reaching goals and achievement dictates their behavior. They do not live in the now, but know they need more of everything. In the words of Queen— “I want it all and I want it now.” If a neighbor gets a new sports car, they want a more expensive sports car just to show them they are better.
- Huge egos do not accept loss. They must be number one in everything they go after. These folks will do just about anything to succeed, even if it means hurting another person. They manipulate the system for their benefit, are disloyal, disrespectful and obnoxious. They expect the world to revolve around their universe.
- The egocentric has given herself a grandiose sense of self-importance and expects others to see this at all times. They will exaggerate any talents and achievements in the course of their lives. They will tell and retell stories of past events to acquire recognition and admiration. They will embellish their unlimited success, worth, and beauty so that others see their perfection.
- These folks suffer from lack of interpersonal relationships. They do not understand what it is to support another with their dreams, ideas, or emotions. They are only concerned with what anyone can do for them. Empathy doesn’t exist for the egotistical person. They are not able to accept compassion or show empathy.
How do folks develop these massive egos? Are some humans born with oversized egos? As you delve deeper into your true identity, as you strip away every false layer of your old self, you will find a smaller ego that is the right-size for decisions. Before you can do this, you must look at the reasons for this oversized ego. The preponderance of egocentrics do not have a very positive self-image. They recognize their insecurities and attempt to camouflage these insecurities by wearing a mask– one of competence and confidence – in a desperate attempt to conceal their real state of mind. Low self-esteem can be problematic; it is a leading cause of anxiety, depression, and a number of other psychological disorders. Egocentrics are fearful of failing and do not recognize that failure has some of life’s best lessons.
Having high expectations of oneself is a healthy and productive frame of mind. However, spending most of your waking hours thinking about your achievements far exceeding anything conceivably realistic is not healthy or beneficial. Egocentrics often have these illusions of grandeur.
If an egocentric perceives their life’s progress as inadequate – a common characteristic of such people – they’ll embellish anything and everything in order to make up for this “gap.” Should someone call them out, they’ll frequently overreact in a desperate attempt to get people to buy whatever they’re selling.
Egocentrics have a compulsive need to “match” someone else’s perceived qualities. These folks are often highly accomplished individuals; yet, their unquenchable desire to supersede anyone else remains evident. This extreme need for validation is apparent in their conversations with others. When the topic of conversation does not involve them, an egocentric cannot help but intercede in a desperate attempt to redirect the spotlight. She becomes a 10-year-old girl, although she won’t agree with that assessment. A conversation that doesn’t revolve around them is not worth having.
An egocentric truly believes that their way is the best way – and the only way. If an egocentric detects a loss of control – often perceived as an act of disrespect – they’re quick to become angry and defensive. Such attitudes and behaviors are most apparent in a group setting. I can remember in 2003 sitting in a meeting of about twenty colleagues, sitting on the edge of my chair, pounding the table for emphasis regarding a marketing plan some wanted to implement. I believed we should provide more money for direct sales in our branches and was opposed to “soft” marketing. It was a good thing that my sales group was number one in the company, because otherwise I would have been asked to leave.
So, I have a huge ego and don’t like it. What to do? If you can, sit comfortably and quietly in a darkened room and just ask yourself “Who am I?” Allow your thoughts and feelings to come to the surface, and don’t judge them. Just observe what comes up. Do not berate yourself but try to find the YOU that you want to be. Then you can focus on who you are and where you want to take yourself.
The Ego will gain some power as you contemplate your True Self and attach those thoughts to your identity. Take a step to get away from this tendency. Volunteer or just lend a helping hand to others, forget about your Self for a while, and instead shift your attention outward to your fellow humans in need. Release your obsession with “I” and instead focus on “We.” Offering your hands and heart to others will help contain your ego.
My worst habit was talking more than I listened. I still struggle with listening. The ego always wants to be heard and can’t stand when others have the floor. The false self wants all the limelight and praise and finds it difficult to let others have attention for any length of time. One way to overcome this is to develop a new habit: listening more than you talk. Allow others to fully finish what they have to say before you respond or bring up a new topic; this way, you will learn to have a balanced relationship with others rather than one solely built on an out-of-control ego. This will also help you relax and go with the flow rather than always having to control a situation and overtake the conversation.
“Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy?” Folks with large egos always want to have the last word, and they can’t deal with being wrong. They won’t let go until others see it their way. It is hard to remember that others will always have different opinions than you. The realization that their opinions don’t invalidate your own is a big step; others just see things from a different point of view, and they’re entitled to that. Once you can allow others to express themselves and be themselves without feeling offended, you have made a marked step on the path to diminishing the ego. Choose to be happy.
I have been told on several occasions that if you have a need to talk about humility, you don’t have it. Humility is often regarded as weakness. It is often confused with humiliation. It is hard to come to grips with a humble attitude. When we fail at something that is important to us—a job or a relationship, for example—our self-esteem plummets because we tied our self-worth to those things. All of a sudden, we become bad or unworthy people.
A humble person is able to withstand failure or criticism. These folks sense their intrinsic value of being human rather than letting the world make that judgement for them. When they fail at a task or don’t live up to expectations, they try to learn from the situation, but never consider that there is something wrong with them.
A healthy emotional bond formed with others, usually our childhood caregivers, provides unconditional acceptance and love which can serve as a buffer against the effects of criticism or failure. A lot of us did not experience secure attachment when we were children. But we can compensate through healthy adult relationships, such as friends, romantic partners, or even with a higher power, which has been important for me.
Humble people have an accurate picture of themselves—both their defects of character and their gifts—which helps them to see what must be done to change. There is no judgement here, just acceptance. This acceptance allows me to see where these defects are limiting my growth. Use a feather rather than a bat to beat up on yourself. Kindness and compassion make your change easier. Transformation comes from positive action.
Gratitude can make us less self-focused and more focused on those around us—a hallmark of humble people. Expressing gratitude can induce humility in us, and humble people have a greater capacity for conveying gratitude. I am a believer in making gratitude lists. Gratitude reinforces humility. BE GRATEFUL FOR WHO YOU ARE AND WHAT YOU CAN BE.