Self-esteem vs. Ego 

Since my last post, I’ve given more thought to friendships and relationships. I think that the beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world play out in every aspect of our lives, but especially in relation to the people that we attract. If we hold very negative beliefs about ourselves, we tend to attract people who validate those beliefs for us. Even if we do have kind, loving people in our lives, we can’t let their love in if we have walls of self-criticism and self-judgement up. But if we have healthy self-esteem and feel good about ourselves most of the time, we are more likely to find ourselves surrounded by people who celebrate and uplift us. It may seem unfair at times, because the people who feel down about themselves need support and encouragement the most, but often have the hardest time finding it. But the reality is that we set the standard for who and want we allow in our lives. So in order to change external situations, we have to start within. 

While it’s definitely important to have a healthy sense of self-love, self-confidence and self-esteem, something that I’ve struggled with is the fear that I will go overboard and become egotistical. We’ve all met people who are overconfident, constantly talking about themselves and bragging about what they’ve done and who they’ve done it with. Needless to say, it’s not cute. However, there are stark differences between being cocky or even narcissistic and having healthy self-esteem. 

Real self-esteem is based on love. 
Ego tends to focus on material things and accomplishments. If it had a motto, it would be “I have”. But when our self-worth is solely based on the physical, we will never feel completely whole, because things like money, possessions, popularity, and appearance fluctuate and wane.

But if you can look in the mirror and genuinely love the person staring back at you, beyond your status, wealth, or whether you’re at where you think you should be in life, you are practising the self-love needed to have a healthy self-image. In this way, you shift from the egoic “I have” to a more heart-centered “I am.” 

A person who practices self-love acknowledges others as well as the self. A truly confident person recognizes that the same positive attributes they see in others they too possess within themselves, and that at a soul level we are all equal. Ego seeks to separate, to draw comparisons. The soul has compassion for others as well as the self. Self-love is the foundation for every healthy relationship, while ego creates drama that stems from a place of feeling either superior or inferior, and therefore needing to “prove” oneself. While a person with a healthy sense of self-esteem knows that they are worthy of being loved, respected and valued, a person operating from their ego will try to manipulate those responses from others out of feelings of unworthiness. 

Self-love allows for vulnerability, while ego creates walls. The ego serves as a protective exterior. It likes to gain power by playing games. Through passive- aggression, stone-walling, lashing out- ego is all about claiming emotional territory. However, these walls that the ego puts up, while their purpose may be to protect, can quickly turn into a prison, keeping love and intimacy out. 

 A heart- centered individual will feel empowered enough to be vulnerable, knowing that when they express their inner most truth, they may not be accepted by everyone. Instead of putting up walls that essentially block love, an empowered individual will let others in, for their strength comes from knowing that if they are rejected they will survive. Self-love is more concerned about authenticity than approval. 

Ego condemns, while self -love seeks to learn and understand.
When conflict arises, a spirit of love will seek to extract the lesson rather than dwell on who was right or wrong, while ego will want to ruminate on everything and lay blame. Growth is the main goal of the soul, while ego’s ovjective is maintaining control. And in order to have healthy self-esteem, we must align with the essence of who we truly are, rather than the ego’s constructs. 

Love is present, while ego resides in the past and future
Love is focused in the moment. Although our true power resides in the present, the ego is always bringing up the past, or trying to imagine future scenarios. It is constantly seeking fulfilment through external sources, gaining resources or achieving goals. While there is nothing wrong with going after things that you want in life, self-love and self-esteem comes from a feeling of contentment with one’s self in the moment, whatever that may look like. True self-love looks beyond expectations of how you think you should be and acknowledges and accepts the being that you are here and now.

I am not of the school of thought that the ego is all bad, or something that has to die or be completely overcome. I believe that we were given the ego as a tool to help us survive in this world. It’s something that we developed as a means to keep us safe in the world; something that must be integrated, not eradicated. Everytime you make a decision from the heart, you teach your ego that it’s okay for it to take a backseat. Everytime you make a decision to love yourself, even if you messed up, even if you don’t yet have it all figured out, you are creating a healthier self image and sense of confidence in yourself. And you may not know how to do it at first. Not beating yourself up, or blaming or criticising yourself may be a foreign concept if you have been practising these negative thought patterns for a long time. Be willing to learn. To soften just a little bit, suspend judgement and just be present with yourself. Meditation can be a really useful tool. If you were trying to fall in love with someone, what’s the first thing you would do? Spend time with them! So often we neglect to just be with ourselves without distraction. 

 So take time for yourself. Spend just a little bit more time in your heart and than in your head. Let’s let love win, starting in our own lives.❤️

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