9 Facts About The Difference Between Ego and Pride (2024)

In this guide, you’ll discover the subtle difference between ego and pride.  

In my role as a life coach, I am often working with clients to help them improve various aspects of their personality – and the two words “ego” and “pride” come up often.

That’s why I’m excited to help you gain a proper sense of the difference between these terms. 

So, let’s dive in. 

Ego and Pride
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1. Are Ego And Pride The Same Thing?

Ego is one’s self-perception. Everyone arguably has an ego – and there’s nothing terribly wrong with that in itself. However, the term is most commonly used when describing someone who has a ‘big ego’. A big ego is an over-inflated sense of self-importance. Later on, we’ll explore the problems that a person’s ego causes when it gets too big.    

Pride is a feeling of satisfaction with one’s achievements. It doesn’t hurt anyone to feel proud. In fact, it’s arguably somewhat healthy to feel proud when you’ve achieved something.  

The confusion comes because a person with a big ego is someone who thinks a lot of themselves. As such, they tend to have a lot of pride. 

What’s more, a person is often deemed ‘too proud’ when they think they’re above a certain task or role. This comes as the result of a big ego.  

Just remember: ego is the self-perception, pride is the emotion.

On the other hand, it’s possible to have an ego without feeling any sense of pride or self-satisfaction. Sometimes, a person’s ego will tell them they aren’t good enough to accomplish something. Perhaps, this should be called a ‘small ego’.

2. Pride And Ego Example

Here are some fictional examples to really hammer home the ego/pride difference.

  • Hans won the award for best DJ at his college. He felt a lot of pride at winning this award. He then developed an ego, feeling superior to others in his class.
  • Daniel is a rich, famous award-winning actor who takes true pride in his work, but he doesn’t have an ego about his success. In reality, he’s just a normal bloke who takes pleasure in enjoying some peace and quiet with his wife and children.  
  • Sam is a handsome guy who takes pride in his appearance, but he doesn’t approach a lot of women because his ego is easily bruised by rejection. 

In simple terms, having a big ego and thinking you’re better than any other person is rarely helpful.

Not only can it harm how other people perceive you, it can also hold you back from taking the actions that made you happy and successful in the first place. 

3. Psychology Of Pride And Ego

Psychology Of Pride And Ego
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Ego stems from our need for certainty, but also from our need to be liked by other people.

Without an element of certainty, our minds can easily become over-worked, stressed and fearful of the future. To protect us from this overload of negative emotion, the brain creates an ego, which tells us we are this sort of person who does these various categories of things.

This story we tell ourselves helps us to feel more in control of our lives, but it also leads us to be very closed-minded. We often limit ourselves through this story of who we are and who we are not. That’s why self-development coaches will always advise students to lose their ego. 

The desire to be liked by others is inherent in all humans. We are very social creatures. When we feel disliked by someone else, it can hurt. A ‘big ego’ often serves as a mechanism to protect ourselves from this pain by telling us how great we are – and that our haters probably suffer from jealousy. 

You might notice the people with the most humility are usually those with naturally high levels of self-confidence, self-respect and self-esteem. Most likely, their parents helped them develop this when they were a child. It’s the child who wasn’t given self-confidence by their parents who often need to protect themselves with a big ego.  

Pride is a much simpler concept to understand. This comes from an understanding that one completed a difficult task to achieve something worthwhile. When someone truly understands the difficulty that they went through to smash their goal, it’s natural to hold their head high and have some level of self-satisfaction. It’s also natural to be proud of our loved ones when they achieve something difficult. 

Related content: Self Respect Vs Self Esteem – What’s the Difference?

4. What Is Arrogance?

Arrogance is an overload of self-importance. It often leads a person to think they’re superior to others. Arrogance can stem from having too much pride or having too big of an ego. It’s a universally loathed quality.  

What Is The Difference Between Arrogant And Ego?

Ego is your self-perception. Arrogance is the feeling that often stems from having a big ego.   There are many people with healthy egos who aren’t arrogant.  

What Is The Difference Between Arrogance And Pride?

Arrogance stems from an overload of pride – and creates a feeling of superiority. You can (and should) feel pride without it leading to a superiority complex.  The right amount of pride is healthy. Arrogance is unhealthy. 

Difference Between Ego, Pride And Arrogance

Let’s go back to Hans the college DJ. After winning the award, he felt pride at his achievement, his ego told him he was better than other people. This led to arrogant behavior, such as ditching his old friends and over-charging for his services. 

5. Ego And Pride In Relationships

Ego and pride can often lead people to trouble in their relationships. Let’s look at some examples.  

What Is An Ego In A Relationship?

  • A big ego in dating situations tends to tell someone they’re an incredibly attractive person who could date anyone. The satisfaction they get from feeling this way often leads them to not make a move on someone, because rejection would harm this reputation they’ve carved for themselves.
  • The temptation to maintain one’s self-perception as a ‘player’ sometimes leads them to only chase partners with certain physical attributes, instead of people they actually connect with. 
  • A self-image as a ‘player’ can sometimes lead a weak-minded person to cheat on their partner.
  • A big ego could tempt someone to act like they’re ‘the prize’ in their relationship – and think that their partner should bring more to the table than them.  

A small ego could cause similar problems for different reasons.

For example:

As you can see, an ego has no place in a healthy relationship. It’s far better to see for yourself if someone is attracted to you, rather than listen to what your ego says. From there, if you get into a relationship, it’s best to play the cards as they’re dealt, rather than letting your ego control how you treat your partner.   

What Is Pride In A Relationship?

In a relationship, pride could describe the self-respect one gains after securing an awesome partner. In loving relationships, partners will feel pride for their partner’s achievements in all aspects of life. 

However, a case of being ‘too proud’ could ruin a relationship too. Here are some examples: 

  • Having too much pride to beg for your ex to come back;
  • Having too much pride to admit you were wrong;
  • Having too much pride to ever relinquish power;
  • Having too much pride to end a relationship that is clearly going badly. 

6. Male Ego And Pride

Male Ego And Pride
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A big part of the male ego surrounds their belief of what a ‘real man’ should be. This is typically ingrained into us as children, based on the behavior of our father figures. 

A lot of stereotypical beliefs around this topic have been linked to ‘toxic masculinity’ in recent times.

Here are some examples: 

  • Men shouldn’t have to ask for help.
  • ‘Real men’ have to be tough and never show fear.
  • It’s not manly to show emotion.
  • ‘Real men’ have to sleep with a lot of women.

The campaign against toxic masculinity did a lot to put these issues in the public domain. Hopefully, more people now understand men don’t have to act this way to be a ‘real man’. 

Related content: 10 Men’s Issues And How To Fix Them

7. Female Ego And Pride

Similarly, a big part of the female ego surrounds their belief of what a successful woman should be.

Since the rise of third-wave feminism, there are a lot of conflicting ideas being spread in the public domain about this.

Is a successful woman married with children by 30? Does a successful woman need to be in a relationship at all? Can a successful woman be a housewife, or does she need to make her own money?

The truth is: there is no right answer. The best thing a woman can do is to choose the path that makes her happy and be proud of her journey. 

There’s no point in letting other people’s ideas about a successful woman affect your ego, your self-esteem or your relationships with men.  

8. Ego And Pride Quotes

Here are some of my favorite quotes surrounding ego and pride. For me, they really give a solid perspective of what ego means.

“More the knowledge, lesser the ego. Lesser the knowledge, more the ego” – Albert Einstein

“That joy-stealing ego will try to do you in every chance it gets. Get your ego out the way and let your love shine through.” – Lynne Namka

“A bad day for your ego is a great day for your soul.” – Jillian Michaels

“If you are discouraged, it is a sign of pride, because it shows you trust in your own powers.” – Mother Teresa

“A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves; vanity to what we would have others think of us.” – Jane Austen

“Be proud of your choices, not your gifts.” – Jeff Bezos

9. How To Kill Your Ego

It’s arguably impossible to completely kill your ego. However, it’s in your best interests to quieten it as much as possible. Here are some suggestions to help you do that.

  • Hang out with people more successful than you. This will humble you and inspire you to improve yourself, rather than allowing you to bask in the glory of being a big fish in the small pond of less successful friends. 
  • Leave your comfort zone. By definition, a comfort-zone exercise makes you feel a bit silly. It could be something as small as singing karaoke or practicing a new skill in public. If it makes you feel a bit uncomfortable in front of other people, it’ll help to quieten your ego. 
  • Ignore external validation. It rarely helps to care what any other particular individual thinks. So, instead of letting other people’s opinions fuel your ego, do your best to ignore them completely. Stop doing things to impress other people and focus on impressing yourself.
  • Put yourself out there romantically. Get out there and approach a potential love interest when you see them. It’s character-building. A lot of people avoid this to protect their self-image as an attractive person, but it’s always in your best interest to shoot your shot. Sometimes, it’ll go better than you could possibly hope! But, if a love interest suddenly rejects you, it will help to calm your ego and fuel your humility. In most cases, it’ll also calm your fear of romantic rejection, because you’ll see it doesn’t hurt as much as you thought.   
  • Meditate. Meditation teaches you to exist in the present moment. There is no past and no future. As such, there is no past or future ‘self’ to create a narrative around.   

For more ideas on killing your ego, check out these guides on TIPS How To Change The Story You Tell Yourself and Ways To Overcome Shallow Thinking

Any Questions About The Difference Between Ego And Pride? 

Thanks for reading my guide on the difference between ego and pride. It was a pleasure to write. Hopefully, you now have a better sense of what these words mean.

If you’d like to make a point or ask a question about pride or ego, feel free to do so in the comments. 

It means the world to hear from my readers and it would be great to hear from you.

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About The Author

Bijan Kholghi is a certified life coach with the Milton Erickson Institute Heidelberg (Germany). He helps clients and couples reach breakthroughs in their lives by changing subconscious patterns. His solution-oriented approach is based on Systemic- and Hypnotherapy.