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The Narcissistic Injury: Ouch! Your Ego Got Bruised

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The Narcissistic Injury: Ouch! Your Ego Got Bruised

Heather Edwards Counseling Coaching Narcissistic Ego

Yep!  It hurts! You know it. It’s that moment of psychological knock-down. Someone took a sucker punch at your psyche. It feels like an existential crisis, an emotional assault, or plain and simple embarrassment. You just experienced a narcissistic injury. 

You know the scenario, you approached a situation or person with an “I got this” attitude, then Whamo!, your ego took a hard right south. You feel stupid, ill prepared, and less than worthy. 

Sometimes egos take a beating when they’re too expansive.

It’s empowering to feel strong and confident. It’s what you want, but how do you temper it so it’s balanced, wise, and grounded? After all, you don’t want to be perceived as cocky, self absorbed, or the “n” word – narcissistic! Ugh!

This is a conversation that comes up in therapy and coaching sessions. Most want to know the line between self care and selfishness – and between pride and a braggardly pretention.

If ego lies on a continuum of possibility, with extreme humility at one end and extreme pride at the other, then there’s a healthy balance in the middle.  

Extreme humility can lead to victimization – or a doormat syndrome.  Extreme pride can lead to uncaring behaviors, or a bulldozer syndrome.  Neither are attractive, healthy, nor desired.

It’s healthy to experience a sense of accomplishment, worthiness, comfort, and pleasure in who you are and how you indulge yourself. You need that and deserve it.

Heather Edwards Coaching Psychotherapy narcissistic ego

So once again, the secret to success boils down to expectations. What do you expect from others and yourself?  Are you open to possibilities? Are you aware of the dynamics in the room right now?

I wonder what would happen if you considered what your coworker, sister, or boss is feeling in this moment.  I wonder if that would effect your next move.

That leads me to a few tips for finding the sweet spot in your ego…

  1. Practice empathy.  Take a walk in someone else’s shoes. Imagine what their experience of this moment is like. Consider the impact of your words and actions.
  2. Get crystal clear on boundaries. Know what is okay and not okay with you. Get comfortable with saying, “No” and “Yes”.
  3. Start an “Improve and Remove” list. Name what you want more of, and what you want less of in your life. Take action.
  4. Be open. Be aware. Stop judging. Just be present and experience the now.
  5. Focus on the good.  When you’re feeling the metaphorical smack down, get up & brush yourself off.  Remind yourself of your worth and lessons learned.

Through a mindful awareness of your values, intentions, and goals you can stay grounded and keep your ego in check. Don’t fall prey to fear, judgement, and self doubt. Those, too need to be acknowledged, measured, and balanced.

All emotions serve a purpose. While ego keeps you moving forward, it can also defeat you. So be strong & self assured but season it with genuine regard for others and an open flexibility.

As evidence of the struggle with managing ego, here are 7 quotes from the celebrated and wise among us…


“Because of its phantom nature, and despite elaborate defense mechanisms, the ego is very vulnerable and insecure, and it sees itself as constantly under threat. This, by the way, is the case even if the ego is outwardly very confident.” Eckhart Tolle

“Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.” Colin Powell

“All bad qualities centre round the ego. When the ego is gone, Realization results by itself. There are neither good nor bad qualities in the Self. The Self is free from all qualities. Qualities pertain to the mind only.” Ramana Maharshi

“Every normal person, in fact, is only normal on the average. His ego approximates to that of the psychotic in some part or other and to a greater or lesser extent.” Sigmund Freud

“There’s no ego when you’re a ukelele player.” Jake Shimabukuro

“Whenever I climb, I am followed by a dog called ‘Ego’.” Friederich Neitzsche

“Surrealism – in particular with Salvador Dali – was all about ego. It was all about extreme individualism.” Alejandro Jodorowsky


photos courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net by stockimages & artur84

Heather Edwards, LMHC, BCC

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