Self-esteem and ego: what is the difference? Some people may still believe that the concepts of self-esteem and ego are synonymous. Something understandable if we consider they teach us to look for others from a very young age rather than for ourselves. Even in adulthood, looking out for yourself can be considered self-centered and selfish.
But what happens when we confuse self-esteem with ego? That we put the needs of others before our own, that we seek external approval, and that we feel guilty when we want to say “no,” but get forced to say “yes” so as not to appear selfish.
The great consequence of this confusion is the disconnection with our needs since we forget to listen to ourselves and value ourselves properly. With this article, you will learn the difference between ego and self-esteem so that you can identify them more easily.
But first, what is self-esteem?
Self-esteem is the value that the individual attributes to their person and their abilities. It is a way of thinking positively, a motivation to experience different perspectives on life, face challenges, feel and act, which implies that individuals accept, respect, trust, and believe in themselves.
Self-esteem is the concept that each subject has about themself, that is, the idea that a person has of themself that forces them to wonder who they are, or what their identity will be, which will be manufactured through the behavior that is developing.
Now, what is the ego?
The “I” or ego of a person refers to the “character” that we have created about ourselves, and we have internalized as the image that represents us, the being that we think we are. The ego results from the sum, combination, structuring, and elaboration of our experiences that occurred from pregnancy, throughout childhood to adolescence, and our interpretation of them.
How to identify an egocentric person?
Egocentric people will always try to show by all means that they are very self-confident, and quite the opposite happens. Due to their very insecurity, these are extremely insecure people who try to make others believe that their self-esteem is inflated and “through the heaven.” That is why sometimes they seem even extremely arrogant since they prefer to be identified in that way than to realize their insecurity.
Feelings of omnipotence
Due to their fragile self-esteem, they try to make others see that they are people who can do everything, that there is no person better than them, and that they are the most important. They use this as a defense mechanism to protect themselves from others.
These are people who believe they deserve everything. They feel that they have immense potential, which at some point will make them become, for example, the richest. They have constant fantasies of power, success, etc.
As we saw previously, these are people who find it very difficult to consider the opinions of others and therefore really put themselves in their place. They believe that the only thing that matters is what they think and feel, and therefore it is difficult for them to be empathetic with someone else unless they are aware of what is happening to them and make an enormous effort to understand the person.
What are the differences between ego and self-esteem?
Most people confuse these two concepts, but they have very noticeable differences, which are described below:
1. Admiration for oneself, difference between ego and self-esteem
A person with a big ego has excessive admiration for themself. So much so that they develop narcissistic traits and observe the world from a distorted perspective. The big problem with this type of person is that they believe they are superior to others. They consider themselves perfect and that everything they do is as well.
However, although they value themself, a person with high self-esteem always does so from a realistic perspective. Thus, they are aware of their virtues and their defects and do not try to camouflage them to appear to be what they are not. On the contrary, they accept these, and if one causes them problems or difficulties, they try to find a solution.
2. Caring for yourself and others, difference between ego and self-esteem
Someone with an ego will always care about themself, but never about others. It would be best if they were the center of attention, catching all eyes. And if this doesn’t happen, if they feel ignored, one of their reactions is anger.
On the other hand, a person with self-esteem cares about themself, but also everything else. Therefore, unlike someone with an ego, they know how to listen and do not seek to be the center of attention. A person with self-esteem knows very well what empathy means and has much more enriching relationships.
3. See beyond your own beliefs, difference between ego and self-esteem
When we deal with a person who has a large ego, the first thing we will notice is that they cannot see beyond their beliefs. It will be impossible to expect them to question or reflect on this. They believe that their vision is the only true one, and that generates many conflicts with others.
However, a person with high self-esteem can look beyond their point of view. They know that their vision is not the only one and understand that other people have different perspectives. They may even become interested in them. Knowing how to listen, putting ourselves in the shoes of the other, and gaining a new perspective of a situation causes the relationships we have to be healthy and profitable.
As we can see, a clear difference between self-esteem and ego is that the person with ego can never empathize or put themself in the shoes of others. For this, it is necessary to have strong and healthy self-esteem. Someone with an ego is not liked or respected. That is why it is so difficult for them to see beyond.
4. Difficulty accepting criticism, difference between ego and self-esteem
A person with a large dose of ego will not bear receiving a single criticism that goes against the exaggerated and distorted image they have of themself. Since they have hidden their flaws under that mask of grandiosity, any sign that indicates to reveal them will cause them to become defensive, angry, and blame others.
Those who have healthy self-esteem will recognize their defects and receive criticism that helps them improve. They will not take the latter as a negative thing but will even be grateful for it. Now, as long as they are constructive criticism.
5. Expect to receive something in return, difference between ego and self-esteem
We have seen that a person with many egos always thinks of themself. Therefore, if you ever seek help from others or approach them by expressing some interest, it is because something can benefit you. If nothing positive is going to come out, the person with ego will not count on others.
Someone with healthy self-esteem does not act this way. They do not use others to achieve their ends, but they know that they can grow thanks to others. Someone with self-esteem never moves out of interest.
Now that you know the difference between ego and self-esteem, you can improve your attitude and become a better person.