These are the first half of the notes from the “Overcoming Ego for Better Headspace” presentation originally given at Fyrecon 2018 at Weber State University Davis. Don’t miss part two – Building a Rock Solid Foundation
The creative world is a competitive one. Success often means being in the right place at the right time with the right story to offer. Because everything is so subjective, it’s hard to not to acquire unhealthy ego practices along the way. This presentation will help you understand what a healthy ego looks like and how to build practices into your life to ensure you can weather the storms that will come your way.
What is Ego?
Put simply – ego is how we view ourselves in relation to the world around us. It includes our self-worth, self-esteem, and self-respect. Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy had a healthy ego. He was confident, strong, and determined to get what be wanted. It didn’t matter what others thought of him, he had decided what was best for him and wasn’t going to let anyone stop him. He was a nice guy, unless you got in his way. Don’t confuse ego with conscience, kids. This Ego clearly didn’t have one since his goal was to obliterate the known universe.
Signs of a healthy ego include:
- Properly placed confidence
- Healthy sense of self
- Awareness and acceptance of strengths and weaknesses
On the other hand, signs of an unhealthy ego include:
- False overconfidence to the point of boastfulness
- Apologizing for things that don’t call for being sorry
- Skewed perception of self
- Terrified of weaknesses being discovered
The sad truth of an unhealthy ego is that those who suffer from it spend their lives living in fear. They tend to think negative thoughts about themselves and have low self-esteem. They are constantly searching for external validation and are crushed when they get bad feedback. Their reality is viewed through skewed lenses and they struggle to accept truths about themselves.
The 5 Unhealthy Egos You’ll Meet at Writing Conferences
Let’s be honest. We all have had our moments showing the following different personas. These are symptoms of when we feel uneasy, or when we need a cheerleader to help us remember our potential. Everyone is unique and will have a mix of the different traits listed.
- Has the next greatest idea ever
- Comes to every conference
- Struggles to actually finish anything
- Makes excuses
- Critical of other people’s work, including teachers (in a nice way)
The Wouda-couda-shouda tends to be insecure about what is the right next step for them. They worry that working on a project or starting the next phase might break what they already have, or make it worse instead of better. They don’t believe that they have the potential for greatness and are scared of failure, so they tend to procrastinate.
The Story Man
- Shares lots of personal details
- Dominates conversations
- Doesn’t stray far from his favorite topics
- “Well if you think that’s bad…”
- Will talk to you for hours, if you let him
The story man wants to be viewed as an expert on his chosen subject and feel important when people acknowledge how much he knows. He won’t stray from his favorite topics for long because they feel safe. Often this is a tactic to help avoid feeling awkward in public and the talking is a defense mechanism.
- Attaches themselves to successful people
- Tends to hover
- King of awkward conversation
- Doesn’t understand social cues
- Also known as a “booth barnacle”
The Leech loves to be close to the spotlight but not in it because they don’t believe they are worthy of that type of recognition. They instead associate their self worth with the people they are with. They are often unhappy with their lives and wish they could be like the other person.
- Name drops constantly
- Won’t talk about themselves
- “Knows” everyone
- Likes to make “special arrangements” even when he can’t deliver on his promises
The Insider is very similar to the leech in that they piggy back their sense of self worth on to the people they know. They are often insecure about their own accomplishments but still want to feel important among the people they do talk to.
- It’s all about them
- Expects to be treated differently
- Easily upset
- Doesn’t listen to anyone
- Unreasonable demands
The Diva is often a created persona that an insecure person will wear to fend off those who might force them to face the truths about themselves. They tend to be fragile and let small things get to them. If they are loud enough, they can’t hear anything else.
Everyone has a bit of each of these characters, and that’s okay. However, if you spot that you tend to lean too much into one of them, it might be a good time to dig into the whys behind what you are doing.
Because you’re awesome, here’s a handy link to part two:
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