I am not a psychologist, so I’m not going to go in depth about all the facets of ego, super ego, etc. For the purposes of this article, I will concentrate on the above definition and what it means for relationships. In this “new age” we often hear that in order to be spiritually and even morally and ethically advanced we must shed our ego because it is somehow in our way. Having an ego, or a large ego (whatever that means), in our modern culture is a bad thing. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Ego is not only indispensable – you cannot get rid of it because it is part of your personality – but also very necessary in order to have, as it says above, a sense of self. Now, we can talk about a healthy or unhealthy, balanced or unbalanced ego. Where in our relationship does this ego, or sense-of-self, come into play? A person who has low self-esteem is prone to being a victim, depressed, a drug addict, an alcoholic, etc. The other manifestation for low self esteem (the self-importance part) is when one’s ego is artificially boosted, which usually happens in order to compensate for some shortcoming. These people having a low self-esteem will do anything to mask it, hide it, pretend that they have high self-esteem and try to convince others of the same. They develop their own kind of survival strategy doing opposite of the ones who acknowledge it and exhibit their depression, victimhood and other shortcomings, by being overly ambitious and very successful (which doesn’t necessarily make them happy), or become bullies, abusers, righteous fanatics, or even criminals. Exhibited low self-esteem and conversely exaggerated self-importance are detriment to one’s grasp of reality, thus creating a discord between their own perception of themselves and that of others.
Curiously enough, our culture treats low self-esteem as normal, especially if our behavior compensates for it; in other words if we pretend well others buy into it. In my practice I have never met a person with genuinely high self-esteem. People with “very high self-esteem” and grandiose thinking are considered to have delusional disorders (isn’t low-self esteem delusional as well?), and are usually put into institutions under the guise of Napoleons and Cleopatras. Those who do not end up in a mental institution become so-called great leaders such as Idi Amin, Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, and … you name it.
All these ego imbalances have consequences and they show the most with those we are closest to in our relationships. As you can see, maintaining a healthy and balanced ego is of the utmost importance if one is going to maintain a happy relationship. Meditating and having some kind of spiritual practice, doing yoga, exercising etc., is all very well and they should not be neglected, but neglecting awareness about who you are, how you occur to others, having your boundaries, precisely defined values, ethics, being in integrity and aware what you tolerate (where you are out of integrity), in other words, without keeping your ego healthy and in balance, happiness and successful relationships will always be out of your reach. (Remember, you choose your partners too.)
Having a healthy ego means having a strong sense of self as separate from others. Having clear boundaries and distinctions between our own feelings, thoughts, needs and desires and those of others, and also being responsible for what’s our own.
I may be delusional, but I think this article is great! Of course I am never good enough, but that’s another story. :>)
Manifest your best.