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Friday, May 31, 2013

An Ego is a "Busy Body"

We are quick to use the terms ego-centric, ego-maniac, ego-tistical or having a big/inflated ego. Some live by the life long goal of dissolving the ego. Others walk through life showing off their ego at any chance they get without a second thought. What is the right way to go?
Too much ego, maybe not enough? Hardly ever do we seem to be happy with the size or condition of our own ego. Or are we even aware of our own ego? It is easier to measure the size of other people´s egos.

What is the benefit of discussing the size of anyones ego? After years of talks about oversized-ego talks among friends, clients, journalists and psychologist colleagues, I am making a case for the ego and speak on its behalf (to my own surprise).

Freud coined the term Ego as an instance in our psyche (read my column about the Ego - good or bad in the Presidio Sentinel). According to him, it makes sure that the other two parts of the psyche (Super-Ego and ID) are "playing nice". In daily life it means that the ego is negotiating and balancing between morals and instinctive desires. To make the task even more difficult than finding the middle ground between two contradictory instances, the ego also has to negotiate these two positions with the given current reality, the reality we find ourselves in on a daily basis.

No wonder that the ego is not always doing the ideal job of being balanced, "enlightened" and that it employs defense mechanisms. These can be among several - well - getting defensive, or lying, denying, projecting or dissociating (checking out mentally). With all its flaws, the ego is the place, where we feel we are truly ourselves, who we are and who we are identifying ourselves with. It feels like the seat of our self. Even if we try to dissolve the ego in an attempt to get to the true self (which is more the advanced class on the ego).

For now, I vote for giving the ego a break, as well as other people´s egos. Usually, if annoyed by highly egotistical people, I remind myself that I have the ability to leave the scene, but they themselves have to endure that 24/7. When judging our own ego harshly, I suggest a deep breath, filled with gentle thoughts about our own motivation and a promise to do what it takes to remedy what an overachieving ego has just created. Humility does not hurt. Admitting that something did not turn out as intended does not hurt. On the contrary, it will get us on the good side of people, more than a hard push from an "ego-driven" motive ever will.

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