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Wellbeing / Business psychology

Self-confidence: Is your ego taking over?

As a soloist, a healthy level of self-confidence is a good thing. But too much ego can be an issue. Signs include extreme feelings of inadequacy when you’re being challenged or when a client or colleague has rejected an idea you’ve proposed.

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Or you may feel really unhappy when you don’t get your way.

Sure, it’s perfectly natural to feel somewhat disappointed when such situations arise. But what if you’re feeling this way the majority of the time? What if the feelings derived from such situations consume your thoughts to the point where you feel deflated, vulnerable or even depressed?

Now, be honest with me here: does it feel like your ego is taking a constant beating?

If yes is your honest answer, it just might be likely that you possess an inflated ego. Unlike being naturally self-confident and believing in yourself, an inflated ego is over-believing in yourself to the point where it can actually hold you back.

While there’s plenty of material out there to help support one’s ego and gain more self-confidence, not much exists on how to keep your ego and expectations in-check. This article endeavours to level the playing the field.

"While there’s plenty of material out there to help support one's ego and gain more self-confidence, not much exists on how to keep your ego and expectations in-check."

So what is an inflated ego?

An inflated ego is an exaggerated sense of self-worth. Ultimately, it’s a survival mechanism. The ego creates an internal fantasy of self-superiority to protect itself. The catch is that it keeps getting angered because the real world consistently fails to supply it with the validation that it supposedly “deserves”.

Herein lies the problem. Those strict internal standards that your ego upholds act as an internal barrier that prevents you from getting the very things you want. You may think your ego is working for you; but it’s more likely working against you.

Your ego can often confuse the difference between what’s most appropriate, what’s right and what you feel like doing in any given situation. Sometimes these three factors are in alignment and that’s brilliant. But often in the real world, they are not. The ego tends to lean heavily on what’s right (which can be grossly exaggerated) and what you feel like doing.

And this is where you can trip over yourself. You’ll end up doing what’s “right” because you feel it’s the only way to go. Opportunities may be zipping by you but you have deemed them inappropriate. What’s “right” is not necessarily what’s most appropriate in the real world.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business psychology section.

Am I at risk of an inflated ego?

Let’s cast light on some of the symptoms:

  • You use the word “should” far too much.
  • You swing between two states: being “nice” and plain arrogance.
  • You think and talk about standards, morals and rules a lot.
  • You often take things personally and way too seriously.
  • You feel deeply wounded when something you’ve done or even YOU yourself has been rejected in some capacity.
  • You are not fond of the masses or those who are in positions of authority.
  • You consider being “right” as the most important thing.
  • You feel the world owes you something.
  • You honestly believe you’re above everyone else.
  • You often walk around feeling very proud.
  • You disdain what you believe you can’t/shouldn’t have.
  • You must have your way (a little too often).
  • You feel it’s you against “them”.
  • You are never a beginner at anything!
  • You justify and defend absolutely everything.

Of course, you’d likely experience some of these different symptoms to different extremes at different times. 

How do I go about deflating that oversized ego?

I thought you’d never ask.

  • Start by admitting to yourself that you have a large ego.
  • Ask yourself: Am I really, truly getting what I want (in business and life)?
  • Step outside yourself and analyse your behaviours. Seek the assistance of someone you trust whom is direct and honest to help you out.
  • Revise your standards: Ask yourself why you hold such standards. No, I mean REALLY ask yourself. You’ll probably trace your standards back to a bad experience which you’ve let negatively shape all your beliefs and behaviours.
  • Reserve judgment for everything.
  • Don’t take things personally, or too seriously. Not everything is intended to be taken to heart.
  • Don’t let emotion cloud decision making. Emotions are transient – they may not be a true reflection of the situation at hand.

My hat is off to you if you’ve made it this far. You’re probably ready to tick-off the first point above!

Paul J. Morris

, as a User Experience Designer, ensures that it is delightfully easy for users to accomplish their desired tasks on websites or smartphone apps, leading to increased sales, customer retention and referrals.

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