The difference between ego and pride is so fine that if you ask a person, it would draw a blank. That is why I have endeavoured to write this story to highlight the subtle difference between the two.
What is ego?
Ego, I believe, is inversely proportionate to knowledge. The less knowledge you have, the bigger the ego and vice versa. Ego is generally perceived by many as self-respect but in the true sense of the word, ego is generally created by the feeling of being superior to others, which can merely be one’s ignorance rather than a reality. It would be safe to say that a narcissist would have a huge ego than a person who thinks about others.
Ego and love can never co-exist. And love is the essence of our existence. Ego becomes too self-centric and love is all giving. These two are poles apart and can never co-exist.
Ego can become a hurdle to one in the areas of development or social behavior. Apologising and saying sorry becomes far fetched as that would hurt one’s ego. Becoming friendly and trying to create a healthy and positive relationship with someone becomes difficult as positive relationship cannot be developed when the dominance of ego is high. The more one thinks about one’s own self, the more one feeds her/ his ego. Considering or self believing that ego is actually pride and self respect, would be a grave mistake- one that would lead finally to arrogance.
Then what is pride? And how does it differ from ego?
Pride is more realistic. Pride gets generated because of accomplishments and achievements. It’s the realisation of success which brings the sense of pride in one’s self. The plus side of pride is that for a person to strive better and be more accomplished, it is necessary to have pride in one’s self. Flip side- a person thinking too high about him/herself might eventually lead to excess of pride- arrogance.
Pride gives a swollen heart, unlike ego, which gives a swollen head. Pride is a feeling of joy and success leading to humility. See it for your self- people who are highly accomplished are more humble and show more gratitude and humility. Ego is self-admiration whereas pride could be self-satisfaction.
Ego and pride may also differ in terms of their innate strength. It’s easier to bruise one’s ego rather than weaken someone’s pride. E.g. In case of dating, you may find many situations wherein unfortunately if the partner becomes disinterested or walks away because of some physical or some other trait, the ego could be hurt but not necessarily the pride as pride is based on self confidence and reality.
Ego: You must have heard the name of Julius Caesar; he had a great ego. It is said that when he was young, somebody kidnapped him, and demanded a ransom of 11,000 gold coins to release him. When Julius Caesar came to know about it, his ego was hurt. He thought, ‘To release me, the great Julius Caesar, a ransom of only 11,000 gold coins! This would devalue me.’ He appealed to the kidnappers that they increase the ransom from 11,000 gold coins to 2,50,000 gold coins, so that his respect and prestige is maintained. Ego can be that damaging! It’s just hollow!
Pride: When Subhash Chandra Bose* came to India after clearing his ICS (Indian Civil Services), he had to appear in one written exam. When the question paper came in front of him, he got flamed and charged-up. He called the invigilators and pointing towards a question, said, “Please get this question changed.” Invigilators read that question, which asked for an English sentence to be translated to Hindi. The sentence read as, “Indian soldiers are generally dishonest.” The invigilators said, “It is impossible to change the question.” Subhash Chandra Bose while tearing away the question paper said, “It is also impossible that Subhash achieves any job by disgracing his motherland.” The feelings which are reflected from this incident are those of “self-pride for being an Indian!”
Ego, while being categorised as a negative feeling, has a milder side too which can be referred to as positive ego. And that would automatically lead to the opposite being negative ego too. Now what are these two feelings? Does positive ego mean pride and negative ego mean arrogance? Not really.
Positive ego would mean a confident self with healthy understanding of one’s positive qualities and abilities. A person with positive ego would not harm anybody else and would never belittle anyone. He/ She would say “I am good at this…” rather than say “Nobody can be better than me in…”. This positive ego becomes very imperative specially in professional world where generally conviction and confidence gets you there.
Negative ego on the other hand is about having low self-esteem about one’s self. Lack of confidence and harnesing the fear factor and self-doubt may lead to negative ego. Negative ego may be also created because of lack of faith on qualities and action items like hard work, perseverence, and faith in one’s self. Because one may not have higher self esteem, negative ego might hinder one’s efforts and which may lead to lack of success and accomplishments.
Ego if nurtured well would enable to know our strengths, our positives, and help us understand ourselves well. As long as we do not offend or harm others and restrict our thought process to just build more confidence and feel good about ourself then it is good. The moment we cross the thin fine line, the basic essence of ego becomes negative and may lead to arrogance and repulsive behaviour. It is very important to understand the difference between pride and ego and lesser the “I, me, myself” attitude, more warm and approachable will one be.
A small word- ego, can stop you from saying words that your heart would like to say like…I love you, I missed you, I am sorry, and so on. Better to have a swollen heart rather than a swollen head. Let to E of Ego…GO!