A Healthy Ego Is Not Narcissism

A Healthy Ego

A healthy ego is a good thing. We can’t navigate life effectively without one. Ego is the part of us that manages our lives. A healthy ego helps us manage our inner world just as much as it helps us deal with the sometimes crazy world around us.

It seems harder than ever these days to forge a healthy ego. The dominant norms in our culture have made it that way. Many norms foster an utter preoccupation with self. And this can easily lead to excessive self-focus or egocentricity. Other norms glorify the individual. And that can easily foster ego-inflation or grandiosity. Still other norms foster a sense of entitlement. Those norms are perhaps the most damaging of all to a mature, healthy ego. To function well socially, we need a mature and balanced ego.

So, how does one develop a healthy ego in our times? That’s what I want to begin discussing in this article.

Egocentric Thinking

I’ve written about egocentric thinking and its pitfalls before. (See: Charcter Disturbance and in several articles here on the blog.) Some disturbed characters engage in a lot of egocentric thinking. They’re frequently focused on themselves and the things they want. They don’t have the time or energy to think about much else. And some don’t care to think about anything else. (See also: Narcissists Have Pathological Egocentricity.)

By nature, ego is concerned with itself. However, we live in a social, interconnected world. Mature egos recognize this. They understand it pays to consider other things and other persons. Folks with a healthy ego understand that they’re a part of something bigger. And putting ego in the service of something bigger is what integrity of character is all about. Egocentric thinkers, however have a hard time seeing the bigger picture. Even when they do, they have a hard time pressing their egos into the service of something bigger.

Egomaniacal Thinking

A close cousin of egocentric thinking is egomaniacal thinking. Narcissists engage in a lot of this kind of thinking. They don’t just think a lot about themselves and their wishes. They also think a lot of themselves. It’s easy for the ego of narcissists to be becomes inflated. When that happens, folks can see themselves as special, superior, more powerful, or more important than others. (See: The Egomaniacal Thinking of the Disturbed Character.)

Getting the Balance Right

A healthy ego is ultimately all about getting the balance right. You want to be concerned with yourself, for sure. However, you also need room in your heart for the consideration of others. And you want to think of yourself in a balanced way, too. Thinking too little of yourself is just as problematic as thinking too much of yourself. You need just the right strength of ego, too. Being too weak-minded and unsure of oneself is just as problematic as being too strong-minded, confident, and inflexible. Sadly, in today’s world, getting the balance right can be quite a challenge.

Perhaps the hardest balance to strike in life has to do with what (or whom) your ego will serve. For most immature characters, ego remains strictly self-serving. It’s always about them. The egos of evolved characters, both recognize and voluntarily serve a “higher power” or reality. Persons of integrity realize that to properly care for themselves they have to care about more than just themselves. First they have to recognize that they’re part of something bigger. And they have to have the heart to want to serve that something bigger.

An Interview for an Upcoming Podcast

I gave an interview to Veronika Archer recently for her popular podcast. You can listen to my segment of You Get To Be You This Time starting tomorrow.

And expect an announcement very soon on the new Character Matters podcasts.




13 thoughts on “A Healthy Ego Is Not Narcissism

  1. So, how does a person go about thinking more of themselves, growing and strengthening an ego, becoming strong-minded and sure of oneself?

    Aren’t we social beings? Women are degraded, criticized, harassed, objectified, sexualized, dehumanized, exploited, abused, and used at every turn in this woman-hating society. Women are punished if they don’t conform to ‘femininity’ (which is purely a BS social construct imposed on women to accept male control and male dominance) which is ritualized subordination and subjugation. Women are infantilized at every turn. And if women resist, they are attacked by not just men, but women, too.

    How are women to shore up their selves and retain strength of ego in this woman-hating, pornified, male dominated world?

    1. You seem to have a very negative outlook on women in society. I’m not suggesting this in a mean spirited way but maybe psychotherapy can help you explore why you have such views.

      1. Try being a woman and you’ll have a different experience of the world, Gary. Because misogyny doesn’t affect you, as you are not a woman, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist or impact women.

        Ultimately I have such views because of experience and the world.

        Have you seen our world? How many men are porn-sick perverts? It’s in the 90s, percentage-wise, as to how many men consume porn. Probably over half of all women are badly abused. DV stats are under-reporting it at 1 in 4 but DV is the most under-reported crime in the world. Even when it finally is reported, it’s usually after 10 or so attacks have already taken place.

        Look at child brothels in slums around the world. Girls are trafficked and raped by any number of men, day in and day out. The demand never ends. Eventually those girls and women either die of diseases from those pervert rapist johns or they suicide or they die of poverty or they are murdered by the pimps, or the rapist johns. Because woman-killing is fun for men, just like woman-abuse. The only reason why more men don’t murder is the fear of prison. That’s it.

        Look at the proliferation of sex trafficking. It’s all over. The explosion of internet porn. PornHub is child sex trafficking and sex trafficking. PornHub’s stats are staggering.

        How many girls are abused by their boyfriends in their teenage years? Coercive control is abuse and is present in so many dating relationships, when the boys and men are on their very best behavior in order to lure the girl or woman into marriage or pregnancy or both.

        How many cops, judges, clergy, etc. are rapists? How many men are perverts? How many men are misogynists?

        Just think about it. The greatest insult to a man or a boy is to call them a girl/woman and/or to imply they are acting like a girl/woman. Think how many boys cower at the possibility that someone remarks that they throw like a girl, run like a girl, or hit like a girl. Woman and girls are taught to hate themselves. Boys and men are steeped in woman-hating even more.

        I don’t think you were mean spirited, but even so, look at how quick you are to assume my observations and the lived experiences of women are “negative” and in need of therapy. It’s evidence based. On average, 3 women in the USA are murdered by boyfriends/husbands/exes per day. In Russia, that number is 40. Femicide is a very real thing, but you, being a man, have not had to consider such. Ignorance is bliss for you, but not for others who must endure your suggestions of psychotherapy, as though facts, lived experience, and endless evidence don’t exist.

        How many babies, the world over, are aborted or killed because they are girl infants? Why does FGM exist? Think of the uproar and outrage and riots that would be unleashed if boys were being routinely castrated when they are 8 – 10 years of age with no pain control, a dirty, rusty razor blade, and left to cry, bleed, and fight infections on the ground nearby for a few weeks. What about girls and women who die from being banished to menstration huts, in the belief they are unclean and their bodies’ natural, healthy reproductive systems are objects of contempt. Smoke inhalation, freezing, or even poison from snake bites have killed off girls and women banished to makeshift menstration huts.

        Why haven’t we had a woman president? Why are there only 5 percent or so Fortune 500 companies headed by a woman CEO? Why is sexual harassment still such a ubiquitous thing?

        Have you seen our pornified world? Do you know how many girls are violated before they turn 18? How many women are raped? How many women are beaten? How many women live lives of captivity, being controlled by the fear of murder by their ‘husband’ or ‘boyfriend’? Why is there a Violence Against Women Act if this world is so hunky-dory for women?

        Enjoy being an ignorant man, Gary. The women and girls of the world suffer because those who have power, men such as yourself, refuse to acknowledge the piss-poor state of the world for women and girls, and thus, when one doesn’t even acknowledge or admit a problem, how can one solve it or be a part of changing things for the better?

        Psychotherapy and psychiatry are largely misogynistic systems of control. Wasn’t too long ago that men who didn’t like their wives could drive them to a insane asylum and admit them, sign them up for permanently mind-damaging ECT (shock ‘therapy’) and keep them locked away in a mental institution for the rest of their lives. Not too long ago women couldn’t even open a checking account or have a credit card in their name alone, but rather needed permission and co-signing by their husband. Why is that? Because men design this system and men rule the world and men benefit from keeping women down, making them sub-human, treating them as children, at best.

        How full are the battered women’s shelters on any given night? They operate at capacity, Gary. Your denial of misogyny is astounding. Think about the predatory plastic surgery industry. How many women and girls are now getting labioplasties because the porn-sick pervert men in their lives no longer appreciate how a regular woman looks. How many women are being tricked into the porn industries under the lies that sex work is work, that women being pimped out to nasty, pervert, rapist johns is supposedly ’empowering’ and so forth?

        How many 9 year old girls are dieting in fear of being ‘fat’ and thus ‘undesirable’ and worrying about catering to the male gaze while still in elementary school? The entire dieting industry is misogynistic. Eating disorders are prolific among girls and women. Why is that Gary? Because women are regulated to a lower class and men are artificially kept on top and in control and power by hoarding almost all the world’s resources and wealth and power. Then they look at women as nothing more than sex toys/sex objects and breeding vessels. Thus so many women and girls are brought up to be maimed, tormented in misogynistic ‘femininity’ and ‘beauty’ practices, so as to cater to the male gaze. Ever worn heels, Gary? Ever spent an hour each day applying chemical and lead-laden ‘cosmetics’ to your face? Ever shoved your body into corsets or ‘shapewear’ in hopes of appearing smooth, flawless, and skinnier than you are? Do you spend another 30 min to a full hour doing your hair? Every single day? Then to teeter around in heels that hurt your feet, back, and eventually land you in the doctors office, needing surgery to address the damage those heels caused your feet.

        But I guess the world is just peachy for women and girls, right Gary? Only my negative outlook is faulty. No factual evidence to back it up. No lived experience or anything. No readily observed conditions of society. No rampant sexism all around us.

      2. Just look at gang-rape. Is there anything like that where women and girls go an gang rape a man or boy? And record it on cell phones and upload it to the rapist websites like pornhub?

        Do women and girls put spycams into the stalls of men’s bathrooms? Do women and girls pretend to be men and then record men changing and trying on clothes in clothing stores’ fitting rooms? Do women and girls walk around with their cell phones and record as many penis bulges on the street as they can and then upload it to the internet so the world over can objectify and degrade men and boys simply walking down the street to work or school? And yet how many men and boys are into ‘upskirting’ and/or wearing hidden cameras on their person, like a male teacher did to record the busts/cleavage of the girl students in his class.

        Girls and women are hunted and made into prey of men and boys all their lives. They are objectified, degraded, harassed, raped, beaten, abused, controlled, and some are murdered.

        Just look at the misogyny in the Middle East and in Islam. Putting women in burkas? Not letting women drive? Women are controlled under ‘guardianships’ all their lives and if a mom becomes a widow, her son becomes her ‘guardian’ where her 20 year old son decided whether or not his mother is allowed to travel or do anything.

        Surely you are not unaware, Gary. Are you that unaware? Have you been living under a rock?

          1. Suddenly there is a “situation”? I thought you suggested I was needing psychotherapy for exploration of my supposed negative outlook on women in society? Now there’s a situation? My, my how things change!

            I encourage everyone to help rectify such atrocities – be it by financial means, volunteering, lobbying, protesting, writing their respective policy-makers, raising awareness, or paying close attention to those women and girls around them and being there for them in any way possible.

            And if there are any men out there, be different. Call out the sexism and misogyny of yourself and your fellow men and force change. Teach boys not to be misogynists. Be allies to feminists in whatever ways feminists want. Don’t consume porn. Lobby against PornHub and other pornography platforms. Raise boys not to be predatory misogynists. The list goes on.

            What are you doing, Gary? Now that you are aware, what are you doing? Donate to a battered women’s shelter in your area. Almost all operate on the brink of bankruptcy. See what their wishlists are on Amazon or their respective websites and get said items for them. Cash donations are needed, too, to keep the lights on and the doors open. Gift cards for retailers, gas stations, etc. are appreciated, too.

            Make a point to truly honor, respect, and value the women and girls around you. Elevate their voices and their concerns. Be a good ally. Use your, presumably white guy, of above average financial means, privilege to benefit women and girls. Spend money on funding battered women’s shelters instead of buying porn. Spend money funding all sorts of women’s and girls’ causes. The better women and girls are treated, overall, the better society becomes. Empower the girls and women around you. And call out the misogyny of men. Take issue with any wife-beater man you know. Speak out against the perversions of porn-sick men (which is practically every man and boy these days, it’s in the 90s, percentage wise as far as consumption of porn). Stop objectifying women yourself. Make sure your male relatives do the same.

            Start anywhere and everywhere. Do it now. No time like the present to start being an ally for women and girls.

          2. Sorry, Gary, for snapping at you to the degree that I did. I was offended and ticked off by your implication that I needed psychotherapy.

            I’m glad though, if by my comments, your mind was broadened so as to see how problematic the thinking and perspective behind your initial comment actually is/was.

            Let’s assume we’re both white. Neither of us have lived as black. But I’m sure in our racist society it’s a hard life for those who are black. Would you suggest psychotherapy for blacks who complained about the racist world they live in and the harmful effects on their lives? Hopefully you would not.

            And so you can imagine just how infuriating it is to hear from a man who remarks in possible willful ignorance that it is my needing psychotherapy instead of society needing to be less sexist and misogynist.

            Women don’t need to be psychoanalyzed; men need to stop being misogynists. Women don’t need to be medicated and/or institutionalized; men need to stop beating and terrorizing them. Women don’t need to be enrolled in therapy; men need to stop being coercive controllers and sexist pigs. Women don’t need to be patronized; men need to stop hoarding power.

  2. I don’t like the term “ego”, I think that is a psychological term maybe coined by Freud? I would rather say self image, and this image or sense of worth is affected by within ourselves and outside of ourselves and most importantly our relationship with God. I see nothing in the Bible that talks about an ego, it does talk about “as a man thinks he is, he is”. So we need to be careful to realize what is affecting us negatively and what builds a healthy sense of self, to guard our minds.

    1. Yes, kat, to guard our minds. Build one’s healthy sense of self in remembering who we are in Christ. A daily renewal of mind. Not to be conformed by this world and its wretchedness, but a daily renewal of the mind and a looking forward to the day when we get to go home to glory, to be with God forever, away from all the wicked evildoers of this world.

  3. Thank you Dr Simon for your continued blogging.

    As an individual and mental health professional, I find your articles very helpful in maintaining (or restoring) a balanced view about all things narcissistic or ego-driven.

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