Ego strength is an excellent marker for overall mental health and can be one of the primary benefits of successful therapy. It refers to our confidence and resilience in the face of stress, conflict, or other challenges. Having healthy ego strength allows us to manage and overcome obstacles rather than engage in denial, avoidance, or unhealthy coping patterns. It also allows us to confront and learn from uncomfortable truths, criticisms, mistakes, or other unpleasant situations without becoming defensive or insecure. Those with high ego strength take responsibility for their actions and accept any positive or negative consequences without shifting blame to external factors. Through being self-aware and self-accepting, in combination with utilizing healthy strategies, we also become better able to learn from others' perspectives and suggestions without perceiving them as personal attacks or unwarranted criticisms. Ego strength thus allows individuals to feel more in control of their emotions, responses, decisions, and future path, thereby helping people to better manage internal and external stress, work toward their goals, and remain calm during conflict or anxiety-provoking situations.
Individuals with low ego strength can be more avoidant, rigid, defensive, aggressive, and/or easily overwhelmed by minor stressors. They are also prone to engaging in escapism (e.g., alcohol or substance abuse; becoming overly consumed by fantasy life; or distracting themselves with video games, television, social media, etc.) rather than solving the problems in their lives. They consequently are more likely to find themselves stuck in the same problematic patterns or perceive themselves as stagnant, without growing or adapting over time. These individuals may also find their self-concept and behaviors feel dependent on their circumstances, including having instability in their self-esteem, dramatic changes in their values or goals, and reacting rather than purposefully acting. These individuals are more likely to feel out of control or unable to manage the demands of daily life.
Ego strength is a goal that requires ongoing effort and dedication. It can be increased through insight-developing activities, including therapy, journaling, affirmations, positive self-talk, and self-reflection. It is also increased through challenging your own thoughts and beliefs by intentionally exposing yourself to different points of view and new experiences. Ego strength development extends beyond solving a specific problem in that it is a foundational ability that leads to improvements in the approach to your emotional state, relationships, career, and overall daily life. Such a change in attitude is dependent on changes in behaviors, but taking the time to invest in developing ego strength can lead to greater life-satisfaction and feelings of well-being.