Ego vs Self Respect

November 15, 2010 at 5:47 pm (Life)

Of the countless useless things we used to discuss at Javed’s place this question captured my interest the most. What is the difference between ego and self respect? I have asked many of my friends this question over a period of time. I spent a lot of time thinking about this myself as well.

Most people agreed that ego is a negative attribute while self respect is a positive attribute. Most of my friends had difficulty in putting forth examples where one of the two had been hurt while the other remained intact. That makes it an interesting question. We can quickly divide ego and self-respect into black and white areas of our psyche but we fail to explain why.

One of my friends said that ego is not always negative in connotation. Some times when we are upset with our loved ones we put forth a screen of ego that we expect our loved ones to try and tear down. It brings us closer to each other.

Once I had discussed this with all my friends i googled for this. I found a lot of web pages and blogs on the topic with a lot of interesting points. http://virajgupta.blogspot.com/2008/05/ego-versus-self-respect.html was probably the best of the lot. In its concise coverage of the topic Viraj has managed to distill the most pertinent differences. When ego shatters we experience anger and frustration unto others. We feel helpless for a while and then we lick our wounds. When self-respect shatters we become furious with ourselves. We go through a period of low self-esteem. We fail to find our old selves in our selves.

I have a few ideas of my own on this. One primary difference i found is that for ego to exist you need an audience, whereas self-respect can exist in total isolation. For example, if I am the last remaining person on Earth and the only available food around me is a fresh corpse I would choose to die rather than consume the corpse. Self respect is the value we hold ourselves at based on our value systems inculcated over time from our parents, teachers and other influences. However ego comes to the fore when someone injures it. Ego responds. Self respect introspects.

 

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