These days we hear so many discussions about self-esteem, yet what’s really the big deal? Why are we so fascinated with this debate? Who is really right and who is wrong? Where did this whole “ego vs. self-esteem” concept come from? What’s the real deal about the self-esteem debate?
Well, let me start by saying that every single one of us has both an “ego” and a “self.” These two sides of ourselves are as inseparable as two magnets. When we first form a personality or a set of traits or characteristics we didn’t do it out of thin air – we did it because we felt a deep need to do so. And when we feel a deep need to do things that go against our “ego” we don’t do them because we’re worried that we might have to “pay back” or “repay” some sort of debt to someone.
So, the “debate” between self-esteem and ego can be a bit complicated. Let’s try and make it a bit more simple. There is only one thing that separates us from other animals – our ability to use our “ego” for good. No matter how much our ego may swell (and it will) there is still nothing like feeling that overwhelming desire to do great things. And if that desire is only marginally satisfied – or sometimes unsatisfied – then we have a problem.
The ego wants us to live a rich, fulfilled life with lots of material possessions – it’s a necessary part of our survival. However, when we get caught up in this “ego vs. self” dilemma we can sometimes push ourselves into an emotional corner. We feel like we have no control over our lives and that nothing we do ever satisfy our needs. It’s a paralyzing mental trap. Our ego doesn’t want this.
But it’s important to remember that our ego is also part of us. And, if we pull away from it, then the parts of us that are alive and vital will start to die – our stomachs, our brains, our hearts, and our bodies. All of our relationships will disintegrate. And eventually, all of our life – not just our private ones – will come to an end.
So the question of how to build self-esteem has to be asked at various points along the process. At the first stage, when we are still kids, we tend to attract our parents’ attention and esteem us highly. But as we grow up, we may have to work hard to earn that same respect. When we are mature, our self-esteem goes to great lengths to mask our real lack of self-worth. Then there may be the problem of integrating the real ego with our self-esteem when we are ready to take on the world.
There are also other issues that can cause the tension between our ego and our real self. There are the many issues of work and relationships. Sometimes the pressure of work takes its toll on us. And then there are the issues of caring and nurturing, which may lead us into self-doubt and fear. When these things happen, we can start to question our own real worth.
The answer to how to build self-esteem vs. ego depends on each person. What works for one person may be a threat to another. One word of caution – if you have serious self-doubt and fear that you do not deserve to be happy, then you need to get help. Get away from the poisonous self-doubt for good.