Ego – A Creator or Destroyer?
Ego: creator or destroyer? This question has been bothering me for a long time. While watching the changing political and social conditions I am finding people more arrogant, rude and unfriendly.
Hardly ever do I find them speaking nicely these days. It seems kids have an unpleasant tone and adults are ready to fight with anybody at a moment’s notice.
Is this truly the ego at work or just the methodology to protect it? In search of the answer I spoke to many people and received a lot of mixed reactions, but the majority seemed to believe that ego was a bad thing and further, that, egoistic people seem to go to any extent in search of success.
When I looked up the word itself, the answers I got back varied tremendously. Things like proud, egoistic, arrogance, over-confidence, and show. Okay… that seems to support the negative trend I was finding.
Contrary to this, the conversational meaning of the word is “Self esteem”, or even “self respect.” Now having a high self-esteem isn’t wrong, is it? In fact we appreciate people who have a high self-esteem (in my view respecting oneself is absolutely justified).
So what is ego? Why do we assume it to be a bad word? Why do most of the time we brand people as egoistic?
According to Sigmund Freud, in a healthy person ego is the strongest as it can help in maintaining the balance between self values (Id) and the moral values (superego) taught by society. Let’s look deeper at Freud’s Id, Ego and Superego:
Id shapes the personality of a newly-born child. Id demands pleasure and is not concerned about logic or reality. It works on pleasure or Self Values.
Ego is concerned with reality. It seeks to gain pleasure but under more realistic principles. Ego is all about conciseness. According to Freud, if Id is the horse than Ego is the rider.
Superego works on societal moral values that are learned by a child from their parents. Superego’s function is to control Id.
Long ago Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud formulated his theory on the development of human personality. Through his research he found that human behavior is an amalgamation of conscious and unconscious relationship.
To make it simpler to understand he gave terms like Id, Ego and Superego.
He very clearly said that ego is good as it helps us in identifying reality. According to him, as the child interacts more and more with the world, the second part of the personality begins to develop. Freud called this part the Ego. The ego is based on the reality principle.
It’s the ego’s job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the reality of the situation.
So now it seems my dilemma has been reinforced. Is ego a good thing or a bad thing? So for this, I say we take the common-sense way out: ego if displayed in a controlled manner is good, whereas if it reflects over-confidence and starts hurting people through arrogance then it turns bad.
Ego needs to be channeled to accomplish success and to take up the challenges of life. Ego gives us the boost and the confidence to take risks and can give us that feeling of satisfaction of achievement. In Cricket, it was the sportsman Tendulkar’s ego that helped him in crossing so many hurdles, creating so many new milestones, breaking his own records, and setting new ones in a clear process of satisfying the ego.
If used intelligently Ego can bring out the best but if used negatively it can ruin. Dhoni’s response to the World Cup victory was an excellent example of twisting ego into a positive shape. When you consider that the Cricket World Cup finals were actually being held in India, well… obviously then the Indian Cricket team losing it, would have been a real shame.
The last shot for six, the swinging of the bat that let the ball fly out of bounds is another example of satisfying the hungry ego but doing so in a positive manner. Dhoni’s expression was a mixture of relief and ego contentment.
On the other hand if ego forces us to hurt people as some sort of a defense-mechanism or as a shield to cover our mistakes then we are called egoistic. Now the balance of id, ego and superego become disturbed and our ego is asking us to be arrogant and over-confident rather than a humble person.
Ego helps in creation; man was never born with machines and the facilities to lead a comfortable life. It is the brain and the ego-programming that forced us to develop new things and to bring about self-satisfaction.
Hence Ego can become a creator if used intelligently, otherwise in no time it can become the biggest destroyer.