Six Ways in Which Your Ego Sabotages You

Your ego protects you, but it also limits you. In this article, we help you identify how it influences your life, so that you can direct its influence toward your own interests.
Six Ways in Which Your Ego Sabotages You

Last update: 19 October, 2021

When you don’t get the results you want, you tend to look for something to blame. Other people, your social situation, bad luck, your education… in fact, any external element will usually do. However, in reality, although these aspects might be influential, it’s often you who’s actually put an obstacle in your way. Therefore, in this article, we’re going to talk about identifying some of the ways in which your ego sabotages you.

The word ego can have different meanings. In psychoanalysis, it refers to the conscious part of your personality that mediates between instincts and ideals. On the other hand, in more colloquial language, it’s used as a synonym for pride or excessive self-esteem. In this article, we refer to the ego as the mask that you wear that, although it helps you survive, also limits you.

The ego

In order to better understand the meaning we’re attaching to the ego in this article, it’s a good idea to take the following into account:

  • Your ego is what you think you are. It’s all the labels you use to identify yourself, either because they’ve been assigned to you from outside or because you’ve imposed them on yourself. For example, what would you answer if someone asked you who you are? Maybe you’d say that you’re impatient, sociable, or conscientious. All these attributes are your ego, it’s what you think you are. However, they’re not actually who you really are, in essence.
  • Your ego is the impulse that leads you to act from fear and not from love. For instance, when you react defensively and automatically, when you limit or cower from an opportunity, or when you accept something with which you don’t agree, it’s your ego that’s motivating you. In fact, in these cases, you don’t act to win, but to avoid losing.
  • As we said earlier your ego is the mask that you wear when you go out into the world. The one that you’ve built as a result of your childhood wounds and past experiences in order to survive.
Woman taking off mask

The ways in which your ego sabotages you

The above definitions might seem a bit confusing to you. However, we’re going to list the ways in which your ego sabotages you, then you’ll be able to see more clearly the role it plays in your life. These are some of the main ones:

1. It builds walls around you

The ego isolates you from others and prevents you from connecting emotionally. It makes you believe that being vulnerable means being weak. In fact, it forces you to build walls around yourself that prevent you from building deep and meaningful relationships.

Perhaps you feel like you must protect yourself from others, stand up for yourself, and always be on your guard. If so, the chances are that you’re depriving yourself of the affection and support everyone needs. In addition, you’re unable to build strong relationships.

2. It burdens you with tasks and responsibilities

Do you find yourself suffering from stress and strain on a daily basis? If so, you probably feel completely overwhelmed. That’s because you’re unable to delegate. This often happens because you think that no one will be able to perform your tasks with the same diligence and effectiveness. In addition, it can also happen out of fear of not feeling like you’re not needed anymore.

These are ego traps. You need to remember that the world won’t collapse if you share your responsibilities. Whoever loves you will do it for who you are and not for the problems you can solve.

3. It prevents you from setting boundaries

Your ego isn’t just about pride, vanity, or false self-esteem. On the contrary, it can also manifest itself in the form of submission. If you have difficulty setting boundaries, you’re acting from fear, the fear of being rejected. That’s because you have the idea that your role is to please others and to earn their affection and a place in their lives.

However, when you get rid of this unnecessary defense mechanism, you begin to conjure up your right to say “no.”

4. It keeps you hidden

Have you ever felt that every time you interact with others you wear a mask that you just can’t take off? In fact, are you really showing yourself or just playing a role that you feel is necessary to fit in?

Laughing at humorless comments, agreeing with things that don’t resonate with you, or feigning an emotional state that isn’t the one you’re really experiencing are some of the clearest signs.

Therefore, if you’re afraid to show yourself as you are at all times, remember that this is one of the ways your ego has of sabotaging you. In fact, by denying yourself the permission to be yourself, you’re heading for exhaustion. Because pretending is strenuous. In addition, you also prevent others from recognizing your true self.

5. It keeps you stuck

Your ego works at full capacity when you have the opportunity to take a leap forward. Whether you’re abandoning a damaging relationship or making a change in order to take advantage of an opportunity, at these times, your mind bombards you with devaluing messages.

Messages like: “you can’t”, “you’re not worth it”, “you won’t get it”, or “don’t risk it or you’ll lose everything”. It’s at this point that you have to be firm, distancing yourself from your inner voice and trusting in your potential.

As a matter of fact, your ego seeks to keep you safe, but not to make you happy. Therefore it’s your decision whether you choose to confront it and risk living or settle for simply continuing to survive.

Woman with negative thoughts

6. It brings out the worst version of you

Finally, remember that prejudice, envy, and the tendency to criticize are all manifestations of your ego. They arise from the fear of what’s different, from an internal sensation of lack and incapacity.

Those who act out of love and self-confidence don’t usually experience these emotions, since they understand that the success of others isn’t incompatible with their own. On the contrary, it can be inspiring.

If your ego sabotages you, learn how to manage it

Have you identified yourself in any of the previous situations? If so, don’t feel guilty. In fact, it’s something that’s common to all human beings.

The ego is present in all of us and your goal shouldn’t be to deny its existence or to try and get rid of it. In fact, this simply isn’t possible. Your goal must be to learn to identify it and integrate it so that it stops limiting you. When you learn to detect its voice and its commands, you become free either to listen to them or to choose to take another path.

Going the other way can be scary at first, but it’ll make you feel tremendously liberated in the long run. For this reason, you should forget who you thought you were and allow yourself to get to know yourself, work on your fear, and open yourself to opportunities. In this way, you’ll discover that your greatness is bigger than you’d ever have thought it could be.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Belart, A. (2014). Un viaje hacia el corazón: El proceso terapéutico del ego al Sí mismo. Herder Editorial.
  • Alonso, J. C. (2018). La individuación desde el enfoque de Carl G. Jung. Revista de Psicología:(Universidad de Antioquía)10(1), 325-343.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.