By: Ismail M Taher...
We’re living in what I like to call the “golden age” of mental health. More people now than ever are being familiarized with concepts like self-confidence, self-acceptance, self-care and self-love.
Despite that being a step in the absolutely right direction, there are still a large number of people who cannot tell the difference between ‘Ego’ and ‘confidence’. Many still confuse the two, mistaking ego for self-love, or self-care as ‘indulgence’. In today’s blog post, I’ll discuss the 10 major differences between Ego and Confidence; I hope you find it helpful…
#1 Ego is believing you’re superior, confidence is believing you’re good enough.
This is the first and foremost key difference between Ego and confidence. Ego consistently tells you that you’re better, you’re superior, and you’re somehow more talented, gifted, intelligent and smarter than others, while also making you in some way believe, that you’re entitled for everything and that the world with all its population owes you a lot.
On the opposite hand, having self-confidence or being confident is believing that you’re good, and good enough. It’s believing that all human beings are inherently good beings, and that you’re a person worthy of love, acceptance, and understanding. It’s believing in yourself and your abilities, without believing that you’re somehow better than anyone else.
#2 Ego is ‘self’ oriented, confidence is ‘people’ oriented.
This is one of the most crucial and essential differences between Ego and confidence. The sole and main purpose for the Ego is to draw attention to itself, Egoistic people tend to believe that they should and must be the center of attention, they demand that everyone must listen and admire them.
On the other hand, confident people believe in their talents, intelligence and abilities in a way that allows them to help other people, support them, and create a positive change in their lives, and even the world. So, people who are confident enough in their own skin are very much more likely to be positive, upbeat people that inspire others, bring them up, give them a listening ear, and generally be supportive and constructive around them.
#3 Ego stems out of a place of insecurity, Confidence stems out of a place of Self-acceptance.
In differentiating between the concept of Ego and the concept of self-confidence, it’s crucial that we track each one of them down to their root source.
In the case of Ego, we would discover than Ego essentially stems out of a place of self-consciousness, self-hatred, and insecurity. I know, it might appear a little counter-intuitive, but the truth is, people with magnified Egos and a grandiose sense of importance are much more likely to be using such feelings of self-importance to mask painful emotions of self-doubt and insecurity.
People who are driven by their egos are people who always try to shift attention to themselves and put themselves under the spotlight, since they’re always craving and searching for validation in the eyes of other people.
On the other hand, people who maintain high levels of self-confidence are essentially people who have tried, and succeeded to a large degree to fully and totally accept themselves, with all their imperfections, flaws and vulnerabilities. Confident people understand and accept that they are inherently flawed human beings, with natural imperfections; so as a result, they feel extremely comfortable in their own skin.
Moreover, people who have fully accepted themselves are in no need for external validation from others. They can and do appreciate compliments but they never go out seeking attention and validation from strangers, since their image of self stems from a place of understanding and acceptance, not self-consciousness and insecurity.
#4 Ego is destructive, Confidence is constructive.
One of the distinct characteristics of Ego is that it’s naturally destructive. Ego tries all the time to demand and bring attention to itself, and throughout this process, it has no problems in sacrificing whatever it takes to achieve what it craves.
In other words, people who allow themselves to be driven by Ego are essentially allowing themselves to do whatever it takes, to maintain that image of inflated self-importance and greatness.
For example, Egoistic people have no problem hurting other people or being rude and toxic to them, they have no problems of sacrificing any morals or ethical considerations just to reach their aim. To put it simply, people with big Egos have this all-encompassing belief that the world revolves around them, so in their eyes, any one and anything that doesn’t fit nor conform to that narrative, deserves to be eliminated or cut off.
On the contrary, self-confidence doesn’t just end at self-love and self-acceptance, but it actually extends to everyone else. People with high levels of self-confidence are inspired every day to become a better version of themselves, and then helping everyone in need and becoming a beacon of hope and positivity to everyone else.
While Ego can make you do whatever it takes to reach its aim, confidence only puts you in the direction of positive and constructive action. It inspires you to take care of your health, be supportive to other people, and generally be a positive person.
A self-confident human being can never attempt to deliberately harm or hurt any other human being to achieve their goals, contrary to the Ego-driven human being.
#5 Ego is always hungry, confidence is always grateful.
As we explained in the previous points, Ego is ‘self’ driven and ready to do or say whatever it take to maintain and magnify its image and presence.
In its relentless pursuit, Ego never ever gets satisfied, instead, it’s always hungry for more. More attention, more spotlights, more compliments and more fake love and admiration.
Imagine you’re pouring water into a bucket with a hole inside; it’ll never ever be totally full, and the more you fill, the more gets spilled, and you will just have to continue filling eternally. That’s precisely how ego operates, it always demands attention, and just never seems to get enough.
If you allow yourself to be directed and controlled by your Ego, the sky’s really the limit, since you’ll never ever be able to satisfy that insatiable black hole. The more you serve your ego, and more it enslaves you and assumes total control over your life, your words, actions and decisions.
On the other side, people who are self-confident are people who understand the importance and significance of gratitude. They always ponder about their lives and endless blessings of it. They learn how to be grateful for everything that happens in their lives, starting from the small blessings all the way to the large and profound ones.
If you’re driven by self-confidence and self-acceptance, you’ll inevitably learn how to be grateful even for the negative aspects of your life, because they’re the ones that shape you and push you forward.
Ego-driven people rarely experience gratitude, since they’re on an endless and aggressive pursuit of attention, so they’ll never ever have what they think of as ‘enough’.
#6 Ego is believing that the world owes you everything, confidence is believing that the world owes you absolutely nothing.
One of the most unique and distinct characteristics of an ego-driven mind is believing that the world somehow owes you everything. Egoistic people have a strong and unshakable belief that since they’re supposedly better and superior than everyone else, the world owes them a special attention, love and admiration.
This belief is extremely toxic, since those people often crash when they hit reality, and discover that most people don’t give a damn about them, at least to the extent they imagine.
On the other hand, people who are confident enough in themselves and their gifts are aware of the important fact that the world owes them absolutely nothing. They understand and believe that they’re no superior or special than anyone else, and in order to reach any kind of an achievement, success, credit or admiration they will have to work hard, develop their talents and skills, and provide value and help to other people.
In other words, Egoistic people believe that the world must come to them, confident people believe that in order to be successful and influential, they have to reach out, work hard, and provide real value or solutions that will make the lives of people better, and that would be the only way they could receive any positive feedback or status whatsoever.
#7 Ego-driven people are often arrogant, while self-confident people are often humble.
As we mentioned earlier, the life purpose of Ego is to convince you that you’re better, and entitled; and through this process, letting your ego take control of your life and decisions will inevitably turn you into an arrogant human being.
An arrogant person is simply a person who suffers from excessive and chronic self-admiration, as opposed to the healthy self-love. An arrogant believes that he is a perfect human being and often lacks empathy to understand and accept other human beings.
On the other side of the equation, people who practice self-confidence and healthy methods of self-acceptance and self-love, are going to inevitably be transformed into some of the world’s most humble and down to earth folks.
The reason being, being confident in yourself is a part of self-acceptance, and self-acceptance, as we explained earlier, implies that you’ve totally and fully accepted and embraced yourself with all its flaws and imperfections.
That way, you acknowledge that you will never be perfect, and instead of seeking to be the perfect human being, you will only focus on your strengths, talents and gifts and try every day to be a better version of yourself.
Such beliefs naturally breed humility, compassion and empathy for other people, since self-confident people are aware that life is not a competition nor a race, but it’s actually a journey on which we can all win and be happy.
#8 Ego destroys relationships, confidence builds them.
This one of the most, if not the most, important difference between Ego and confidence; when it comes to relationships, entering or maintaining a relationship whilst your ego is taking the driver’s seat of your life is only a recipe for disaster.
People who allow themselves to take romantic decisions based on their Egos are like those who jump from a cliff. Since Ego is always trying to garner attention to itself, this will also translate into your actions and decisions towards your loved ones.
People with high Egos are much more likely to be in an emotionally draining one-way relationship, in which only one party demands attention, love and care, while simultaneously ignoring the needs and desires of the significant other.
It’s no news that Ego is one of the most notorious heart-breakers out there. Many people who experience emotional breakdowns and painful breakups have to realize that egos might have played a much bigger role in that.
It’s mostly manifested through a dull, one-sided relationship in which one person does not care or pay any attention to the other person.
It’s especially worse if the two parties in equation suffer from Egoism, that way, they’ll always be fighting over attention and spotlight, and eventually reaching a halt in their romantic endeavors, since human beings are naturally emotional beings, who crave being felt, cared-for and understood. It’s impossible to remain in an emotionally draining, one-way relationship for long.
Conversely, self-confident people are aware that they should never always be the one demanding attention and love. They understand that a positive, constructive and long-living relationship is a relationship built on mutual care, love and understanding.
They are aware that in order to receive any kind of love or attention, they first have to give. That way, confident people are very much more likely to be in positive uplifting relationships that fosters their growth and development as human beings.
#9 Confidence guarantees success, ego guarantees failure.
People who are driven by their egos almost always have an unrealistic view of the world and how things operate. They assume, as we mentioned, that the world somehow owes them something, and that the whole world should come and beg them to unleash their magnificent gifts and talents.
This impractical and highly toxic belief halts any sort of achievement or progress through life. Egoistic people are often caught up in an endless maze of insecurities, overthinking, and disappointments, and unless they can finally free themselves from this deadly chain, they’ll always be much less likely to ever go any forward with their lives.
On the other side, self-confident people are conscious of their special gifts and talents, without being arrogant or feeling superior to anyone else. They understand and acknowledge the fact that they are the ones that have to show up, and bring their talents out to the world in order to gain any recognition or success.
The feelings of self-confidence and self-acceptance are crucial prerequisites for success. Unless you’re totally running on luck, succeeding in any sort of field while being moved and directed by your ego is a pretty slim chance.
Alternatively, if you practice humility, confidence and empathy with everyone else around you, coupled with hard work and constant learning and up leveling, you’re greatly magnifying your odds at making it and leaving your unique impact on the world.
#10 Ego and confidence are NOT mutually exclusive.
This is, in my opinion, the most important point you need to be aware of at the end of this article. It might have appeared through the previous 9 points that Ego and confidence are 100% distinct concepts, and that you’re either a 100% confident and ego-free human being or that you’re a 100% Egotistical human being.
This is one of the most dangerous misunderstandings we have to correct now. Human beings are complex beings, and as we mentioned, highly emotional beings as well. It’s virtually impossible for the average human being to be 100% ego-free, and on the other hand, it’s also nearly impossible to be Ego-driven in every single aspect of your life.
What really does happen is that human beings often have a mix between Ego and humility, confidence and arrogance, selfishness and empathy. We’re in no way implying that because you can relate to one of the previous points, that you’re a heartless egomaniac.
Also, if you truly feel confident and empathetic with your fellow human beings, you will probably have some elements of egoism as well.
It’s also worth noting that the concept of Ego largely differs depending on the field you’re talking about, for instance, psychoanalytical Ego is a little different from our modern (or spiritual) understanding of it. In this article, I’m using the term ‘ego’ in the modern sense of our current understanding, not as a clinical or scientific term.
The goal and aim of this article is not to entirely bash ego, but it’s aimed at trying to replace the Ego’s control on the most key aspects of your life and personality. Hence, eliminating Ego altogether is next to impossible, what we encourage here is trying to diminish its impact and control as much as possible.
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Also, you can give our previous articles on related topics a look here:
The comprehensive guide to building an unshakable self-confidence from scratch.
Why self-acceptance is crucial to your growth and development
The 5-step formula to eliminate suffering once and for all
10 Reasons you’re feeling lost and what to do about it
What ‘Trusting’ the process really means