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Ego Strength & Emotional Intelligence: How Strong is Yours & How to Identify it in Others

emotional intelligence

Ego strength is the cornerstone to having strong emotional intelligence. To break this down let’s first talk about the ego. From a psychological perspective (and put very simply) it’s our conscious mind. It gives us our sense of self, the ability to know who we are and what we’re capable of. The ego forms most of our thoughts which contributes to our behavior. 

From a spiritual perspective, the ego is our humanness. If you believe that we are spiritual beings living a human existence, then the ego creates our human existence. The ego’s primary responsibility is survival, which means it runs off of fear. 

The ego is that voice in our head that can build us up and, just as quickly, tear us down. 

The dictionary definition of the ego is “a reasonable or justifiable sense of one's worth or importance.” We call people egocentric or egotistical. It’s like calling someone arrogant, conceited, cocky or prideful. This could also describe a person who has narcissistic traits. 

On the surface one might say a person like this has an over-developed ego or very high ego strength. However, it’s quite the opposite. People who are smart don’t need to tell people they’re smart or prove other people wrong just for the sake of being right. People who are confident don’t need to prove their confidence or point out when others may not be. People who are strong don’t need to fight to prove their strength or use intimidation for others to fear their strength. 

So yes, superficially, on the outside, it could look like high ego strength but the harsh truth of the matter is that this shows very low ego strength. Their behavior is actually an effort to overcompensate for their under-developed ego. This means they would have difficulty taking responsibility for their own actions, would blame others or make excuses and be unwilling to apologize. They tend to be judgemental, could put others down, be over-critical, always have something to prove, want to be the center of attention, thrive on words of affirmation or awards of achievement, have a need to win (whether it’s a competition or an argument). They need all of these things to boost their ego because it’s so low. They tend to over-sell themselves or think they can accomplish more than they actually can. 

Conversely, people who are insecure and lack self-esteem, confidence and self-efficacy have unconsciously accepted their weak ego and often use it as an excuse to not try too hard in life. They have a tendency to be pessimistic, believe everything bad happens to them and they have a victim mentality. This could be people who don’t even really know who they are and, if they do, they don’t like what they see. They usually have no opinions to share, they follow what everyone else does, they like what other people like and they act like other people act. They tend to be indecisive, avoid making decisions, and have difficulty problem-solving. They lack trust in themselves, compare themselves to others and believe they’re never good enough. They can be people pleasers, lack boundaries and not be able to tell people “no” which could lead to them being taken advantage of. 

emotional intelligence

Think of these two types of people as the two opposite extremes of low ego strength…. Which means high, healthily and strong ego strength is somewhere in the middle. These are the people who are cautious but confident; talk when they have something to contribute to the conversation; and encourage others to contribute as well. They have compassion for others but maintain good boundaries to take care of themselves. They can see situations from different perspectives. They know who they are and have a strong sense of self. They’re aware of their strengths and weaknesses. They accept themselves while continually striving for improvement. They see failure as a step closer to success. They’re able to take responsibility for their actions and apologize when necessary. They can accept compliments as well as criticism. They think before they speak and are aware of how they affect others. They are connected emotionally within themselves and are emotionally available to others. They know how to regulate themselves and find a balance to life. 


  • Let’s draw a straight horizontal line on your paper. On the end of the left side, make a note that this represents the people who’ve accepted their low ego strength. At the opposite end, on the right side make a note that this represents the people who are in denial about their low ego strength and overcompensate for it. So you can see the two extreme characteristics of having weak ego strength. Now draw a vertical line right in the middle and make a note that this represents the people who have strong, healthy ego strength. 

  • Now make a mark along that line where you think your ego strength is.

Does your ego strength tend to stay there most of the time or does it tend to move towards one side or the other in different circumstances? If it tends to move I want you to make a mark indicating how far left and right you tend to go. 

Now you can see that ego strength is a continuum and can fluctuate along this line… moving more to the right at times and moving more to the left at other times. It is not fixed at one point all the time. We have the ability to change where we are on this continuum. We can do this by increasing our emotional intelligence, but we need to first identify what needs to be changed in order to change it. 

Therapy Homework

I want you to write down and brainstorm the characteristics you have as a result of your own ego strength. Analyze what is working for you and what's not. Strengthen the qualities that are working for you and work on reducing or replacing qualities that are working against you.

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For more self-help talks, guided exercises and meditations check out these resources:

Dr. Traci Moreno on Insight Timer-

Free Spirit's YouTube Channel-

Spiritual Psychology Support Group Hosted by Dr Traci and Pasquale-

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