“You have an ego” are not quite the words you look to hear from people whose opinions you respect but it happened to me recently and I was shocked. Once explained, I realised that appraisal was correct and that I hadn’t realised that I had developed one. It mainly comes down to the way I say certain things where I am justifying my thoughts rather than owning them.
After hearing those 4 words – “you have an ego” – it got me thinking about the difference between ego and self-confidence because one thing I know I have developed over the years is much better self-confidence. For a very long time I lacked it. I could socialise but I did not feel in any way confident, contrary to the opinions of those around me.
This year a big focus for me is personal and professional development. I have already signed up to do an online 4-month personal development course that comes with coaching. I can’t wait to start that soon. But I don’t need to wait for that to get started before making any changes.
Back to egos and self-confidence.
The first thing to do is define each word:
Ego – ‘a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance’ (Online Dictionary)
Self-Confidence – ‘a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities, and judgment’ (Online Dictionary)
At first glance you wonder what could be wrong with having a bit of an ego. Self-esteem and a sense of self-importance seem pretty important and valuable attributes to possess, especially if you pay any attention to all the self-help articles, books, websites etc. that talk about developing your ego. Self-importance seems very valuable when you hear about people burning out because they have forgotten to take time for themselves or value themselves enough to ask or demand help.
However, when you read the definition of self-confidence that sounds far more apt for how one should be and behave, and therefore there should be more focus developing that.
So where does my egotism come from? Well, I think it has developed over the last couple of years since moving to Canada. And that hasn’t been something that has been willingly done either. I love feeling self confident but being told I have an ego, less so.
The main reason I think I have developed said ego is through necessity, necessity to prove and justify myself to myself and to others for the right to stay in Canada and to get anything done. When I arrived in Canada I had nothing; no friends, family, job, fixed address. I had a work permit, some money and a dream to become a Permanent Resident.
Through the journey of getting Permanent Residency from finding a job through to going through the application process for PR, you are forced to justify and prove everything. The downside of that is you develop what I am going to call the ‘I-am-awesome-ego‘. Problem is, there is no need for that ego to be there anymore as I have proven my capabilities and now have my residency, a good job, a fixed address that I enjoy being in, and great friends.
For me the next stage of my journey is to release the sense of needing to prove myself all the time and keep working on my self-confidence. A great saying I was told at the time my ego was brought to my attention was “confidence is quiet“. On reflection, that is very true. Let your confidence shine through quietly through your actions, not your words.
So now the question becomes, how do you work on your self-confidence? This bit requires a bit more research but here’s what I have found:
- Spend time with those who enrich your life and make you feel positive – I have definitely been doing a lot more of this and it feels great.
- Do more things that you enjoy. Working on doing more of this. Definitely want to make full use of my vacation time.
- Visualise yourself as you want to be.
- Question your inner critic.
- Help someone else.
- Make a list of all your skills and positive attributes.
- Write down all the challenges you have overcome – this is definitely worth doing on a semi-regular basis to keep you aware of how far you have come. Often I don’t think I have overcome much or done daring things yet when I write them down or talk to someone about them, there it is staring straight at me and I think ‘wow, that was quite an achievement’.
- Create a support network – Super important and something I have definitely done since moving to Vancouver. One of the first things I put special focus on creating because you can’t do it all alone, try as you might.
- Obtain feedback – this can be difficult, especially if you know you’re likely to hear some home truths you don’t want to hear. I know I am going to get some more of this on my self-development course but I am excited because that means there is opportunity for change.
Overall, being told I had an ego has made me more self-aware, especially about how I say things. It’s not necessary to sensor what I say but to think of how I say it. At the end of the day, if people perceive you as egotistical that’s not going to get you anywhere. Confident on the other hand, is a great attribute and will be something I will be working more on.
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This content was originally published here.