The term “ego” is heavily charged in our culture. We hear things like “his ego is so big” or “you’re so egotistical, you think the world revolves around you.” The truth is, the ego is a complicated topic and serves vital psychological functions. Here, we’ll try to understand more about the importance of the ego, when it’s necessary, and when it becomes a problem. First, let’s define the ego- it can be defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. More intricately, the ego refers to the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious. It’s the part of our consciousness that’s responsible for personal identity. The ego is what allows us to feel as if we’re individual people.
When the Ego is Necessary
The ego is a necessary part of human consciousness and development. It’s what allows us to make decisions, acts, and discriminates. It’s how we sort through our daily reality and have a sense of self. Without our ego, we wouldn’t be able to separate ourselves from others. Our ego is responsible for our self-image.
When the Ego is a Problem
The ego can become a problem when it’s overdeveloped (boastful, self-obsessed) or underdeveloped (trouble with decision making or sense of self). When someone insults us, we get offended because our ego is hurt. The insult has momentarily impacted our own self-image. If part of our self-image includes “good looking” and someone tells us otherwise, we feel hurt because that idea is challenged. While the ego is necessary, problems ensue when we start to identify with our egos. We are not our egos. When we over-identify with our egos, we become hypersensitive to what other people think of us and fearful of judgment. The ego is simply one part of the equation and we are vast and complicated creatures.
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