January 24, 2007

Ego, Pride, and Self-Hatred

Usually when we call someone "egotistical" or "prideful" we mean they love themselves so much that they are the best thing in everyone's world. They talk about all they have to offer, all the things they are good at, and they can brag about themselves like none other.

Over the past few weeks, I heard a news story on the radio about a church that is Hugging Their City, and never once credited the idea back. I have heard of speakers using someone else's stuff without crediting the source. I have heard of publishing company's creating a program around someone else's ideas and not giving proper credit. Blogger's do this by stealing other people's content without credit or by simply writing without a little link-love to the original blog or story.

People want to be wanted. They want to be respected. They want people to appreciate them. I believe, however, that ego is not an example of a person who loves him/herself too much. I believe being prideful and egotistical is actually an example of self-hate. The egotistical/prideful person doesn't like who they really are, and they don't believe other people will either; so they hide it. But this behavior is not reserved solely for the egotistical/prideful person...I do it on a daily basis even though I wouldn't consider myself prideful or egotistical.

Why do we do this? Because we want to look smart, be respectable, or we fear a lack of influence. A church might not have as many people say, "That is a great idea you had!" if they didn't actually come up with the idea. People might not say, "That was a great point you made!" if it really wasn't your point. They might not say what a great piece you wrote or thing you said or...

This is also why we find it so hard to confide our faults, struggles, and sins with others. We have this misguided perception that everyone else is perfect and we are sooooooo flawed. We know that weakness is not loved and accepted it is ridiculed and gossiped. Trusting others is part of the issue, but we also don't love ourselves enough to be honest about who we really are.

Our inability to love ourselves means two things:

1. We cannot receive love the way we should. We don't believe people could actually love the "real me" so we hide things from them and constantly feel insecure that they might find out and not love us.

2. We think God is a liar. God says that you and I are valuable, that we are loved, and that, while we are not perfect, we are accepted.

I have realized my ego is actually standing in the way of my ability to receive God's (and other's) love. It is also maks my life miserable!

I want to be respected. I want to be thought of a intelligent, thoughtful, a "great man," whatever. So I put on a mask that hides the real me because I am afraid others won't like what they see; because I don't like what I see most of the time. I know myself. I know my failures. I know all the things that people don't see.

I was talking to a friend about what sustained my depression from a few years back. I told him that it was because I didn't feel I could reveal what I was actually going through to anyone else. They seemed to have everything together, and they seemed to respect me. If I told them what I was going through they wouldn't respect me anymore.

Donald Miller in His book Blue Like Jazz talks about the point where he realized he didn't love himself. He says that he noticed how badly he spoke to himself about himself, and realized, he wouldn't speak about his neighbor that way. So, with God's help, he stopped talking badly about himself, and began to love himself.


  1. You know I've found that the people that I truly respect (and don't have to remind myself to respect them) are the people who are themselves. I gained so much respect for Doug the first time I heard him admit fault for something and be humble to someone about it. It was a breath of fresh air.

    When I see someone who doesn't have that security it is so evident. They have to attempt to control every aspect of their percieved image and in the long run, it just makes them look neurotic. I have a hard time trusting people like that. I have to remind myself at times to allow them in if I find they are to be let in for a while. I still tend to not become very close to these types.

    I know I myself have a hard time being okay with who I am, and letting people see the warts (there are plenty). I've noticed though, that the more real I am, the more other people around me are comfortable with me, and draw close. It is encouraging to them to see the warts (because we all have them) and instead of it becoming "I'm better than you" it becomes... "us, together"... and that is the point right?

    I am trying to be as real as possible, and still have the balance of healthy boundaries. Pardon me while I juggle this glassware....

  2. This is the journey I've been on the last few years. It's a nice thing not having to be perfect.