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How to Overcome a Blow to Your Ego
Your ego is the part of your mind that is responsible for the judgments you make about yourself and other people. It can prove fragile at times - especially when your sense of self-worth is challenged by a failure or another person’s comments or behavior towards you. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to keep your ego in check and bounce back after it takes a hit. There are also specific ways to handle emotional setbacks in a professional environment.
Bringing Your Ego Into Check
Check anger as soon as it appears.It’s healthy and natural to become upset when your ego takes a hit. In fact, emotions such as anger are often the result of your ego responding to a perceived threat, and sending a message to your body that your mind is in distress. In these contexts, it’s important to keep your emotions, especially anger, from getting the best of you. When you act or speak out of anger, indignation, or defensiveness, you’ll likely wind up escalating whatever situation has aggravated your ego.
- If possible, take a moment to catch your breath before responding or reacting to whatever bruised your ego.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Repeat this sequence a few times.
- Get up and move around if you’re able to. Vigorous exercise can immediately help reduce the intensity of painful emotions.
Diffuse frustration with mental re-framing.For instance, when you become upset, try to picture your ego as the voice in your head that’s running around screaming “This is an outrage!,” “It's not fair!,” and “I have to do something!” Until you’ve gotten your emotions in check, don’t act on this voice.
- If you favor reason to humor, simply think to yourself, "my ego has been hurt, but it’s entirely up to me how I respond."
- Acknowledging and validating your own autonomy this way will make you feel less like a victim and more capable of responding to a situation without your ego complicating matters further.
Avoid complaining.In simplest terms, complaining won’t help. Complaints will keep your mind cycling through the negative aspects of whatever led to your bruised ego. Accordingly, you should not only avoid complaining to others, but try to keep from complaining to yourself as well.
- When you feel yourself starting to say or think a complaint, remind yourself that there are better ways to handle the situation.
- Instead of allowing yourself to keep thinking things like, "I can't believe they would do this to me!," think more objectively about the actual situation and what was said.
Congratulate yourself for recognizing that your ego is affecting your feelings.If you’ve realized that your ego has been wounded - that’s a good thing! It means you're self aware, and that you recognize that you are not your ego, and that the feeling will pass. This can be an empowering thing to remind yourself.
- Being more aware of your emotions will improve your ability to handle them. Calling out your ego by recognizing when it tries to influence your thoughts and feelings will help too.
- Think of your emotions as the growing pain of mental growth. As you become more aware of your ego, you may find yourself thinking “oh boy, my ego is being silly,” instead of being hurt or upset in certain scenarios.
Take the blow as an opportunity.Believe it or not, this is one of the best ways to turn negative emotions into positive ones. When you think and say things that reflect gratefulness, you can actually make yourself feel better. Try it.
- Think to yourself, “It's a bummer that I feel this way right now, but i’m thankful that witnessing my boss treat us this way will serve as a reminder not to treat other people this way.”
Bouncing Back From a Blow to Your Ego
Stick with something you want to be better at.Maybe a friend said some nasty things about your series of fashion selfies. Or an art critic voiced their confusion about your approach to painting. Or you didn’t make the ball team, despite trying your hardest. In these cases, the best response is to buckle down, bang out a few push-ups (figuratively or literally), and get back to work honing your craft.
Talk to someone about it.When something gives your ego a knock, admitting to to someone else can not only feel good, it can lead to renewed motivation to get your mind back on track. It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking to a workplace mentor, a close friend, or a mental health professional.
- If you're hesitant to speak with someone but you keep thinking about something that happened, remind yourself that it’s a sign of emotional maturity if you’re able to admit it when you’re bummed.
- Simply pull someone you trust aside at some point and say something like, "Geez, James said something earlier that really got to me. I've still been thinking about it and I'd like to get it off of my chest. Can we talk for a minute?"
Ask yourself what you can learn from the experience.It can be helpful and motivating to reflect on your own. In fact, many people are motivated by experiences of defeat or humiliation to examine their prior behavior or level of effort and adjust to prevent a similar experience from happening again.
- To aid in your reflection, ask yourself questions like, “What could I have done differently that might have prevented this?”
- In this way, you can challenge yourself to address the matter in a healthy and productive way by thinking it through without someone else.
Recognize that dwelling on something prolongs its effect on you.As important as honest conversation and reflection may be, it’s also important to move on shortly after receiving a blow to the ego. Address and manage your emotions, and then focus on other aspects of your life.
- Thinking too much about what might have been, or how something might have gone differently, will prolong your discomfort and prevent you from spending your time thinking about and doing more productive things.
- Whenever a thought arises that you don't want to think about, simply push it away. Don't become frustrated if it keeps coming up, just take a deep breath and focus on something else.
Recovering From a Professional Blow
Set yourself up for the next chance to prove yourself.Especially in a professional environment, it’s important to follow a blow to your ego by immediately focusing on the future. Your superiors are not thinking retrospectively, and you shouldn’t be either.
- Focus on whatever needs to happen in your career to get things back on track or make the next step towards achieving your professional goals.
- While the specifics will vary, the important thing is to focus on preparing to move forward with a project or career instead of feeling ashamed or bitter.
Remind yourself that you are not your job.So you got fired? Your co-worker got that promotion you were hoping for? A professional setback can hit your ego hard, in part because it may affect your day-to-day life considerably, or you may constantly be reminded of something that's bothering you. That said, your job isn’t your entire life, and nor should it be.
- Interpret a job loss, for instance, as an unfortunate circumstance instead of a personal inadequacy. Even if losing your job was you own fault, it’s up to you to address whatever led to the loss and get to work finding a new job.
Stay friendly with co-workers.If one of your colleagues got the contract you were hoping to get, for instance, do your best not to hold it against them. Depending on the context, it may be entirely fair to feel salty for a while - but this should not inform how you interact with others in a professional environment.
- Make a point of congratulating those around you for their success, even if it sometimes comes at your expense.
- Keep in mind that treating others with respect at all times reflects positively on your character, and that your colleagues will notice and admire friendly behavior.
Hold fast to professional aspirations.Following an embarrassing professional failure, you may find yourself questioning your abilities to achieve the goals you’re working towards. Whenever you start to feel this way, immediately correct your thinking by reminding yourself that a setback and a bruised ego aren’t enough to knock you off your long-term plan.
- Stated otherwise, don’t let a temporary blow to your ego change your view of your own potential.
- Even if you have to make some short term adjustments, keep in mind that many successful people dealt with serious setbacks before “making it.”
- A case in point: Michael Jordan was once cut from a basketball team. Imagine if he hadn’t ever laced them up again because his ego took a blow?
QuestionWhat is ego in a relationship?
Clinical Social WorkerClinical Social WorkerExpert AnswerEgo in a relationship refers to the primacy of one's own needs or comfort within a relationship without sufficient regard to the other's needs or comfort.Thanks!
QuestionWhat is the meaning of bruised ego?
Clinical Social WorkerClinical Social WorkerExpert AnswerBruised ego refers to feeling less valuable or important based on what someone says or does. For example, if someone breaks up with you, your ego might feel bruised even though you understand why the relationship ended. You might feel embarrassed about sharing it with others.Thanks!
QuestionWhat does it mean to hurt your ego?
Clinical Social WorkerClinical Social WorkerExpert AnswerTo hurt your ego is a little bit below bruising your ego... for example, when another person is picked for an award or honor, one might feel a little hurt because they question the esteem in which they are held.Thanks!
QuestionHow does the mind develop defence mechanisms?Jennifer WapplerCommunity AnswerWith pain and suffering. The primitive part of the brain does not like these feelings, and builds a wall that sometimes cannot be broken down by the more advanced, logical part of the brain.Thanks!
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