We’ve all had that moment. The moment when someone delivers you a huge hit to your ego. Whether it’s getting fired from a job, getting dealt a brutal one-liner from a loved one, or getting dumped, some hits to the ego can really knock you off your game.
I’ve been dealt a couple decent blows to my ego in the last year. It’s not that I walk around with a big head or anything (at least I hope not). The most brutal ego blows are the ones that make you question how you feel about yourself or something about yourself as a person. They can be hard to get over. Sometimes, they can become a part of you.
1. Call Your Person
Whether it’s your Mom, your bestie, or your significant other, chances are there is someone in this world who thinks you’re pretty great. Initially, that’s exactly what you need. Someone to tell you hey, that sucks, but you’re still pretty great. Because if said blow to your ego is making you feel like you aren’t, the reassurance really helps.
A hug doesn’t hurt either.
2. Assess Your Role In The Situation
What could you have done differently? Maybe you got laid off due to something completely out of your control. Or maybe you got fired for something you could have done differently. Look at what you did (or didn’t do) and determine what your role was.
3. But Don’t Dwell
Once you’ve determined what you could have done differently and you know for the next time you’re in a similar situation, start to forgive yourself. This is absolutely the most challenging part. It’s easy to go over things in your head. To replay every situation and wonder why you did things the way you did. But don’t. You can’t change what has happened and dwelling won’t make it better. Let yourself cry it out, be angry, or sad. But not for too long. But most importantly, forgive yourself.
4. What next?
Often huge ego hits are an opportunity to take yourself in a new direction. Many put you right at a fork in the road. Did you get dumped? Maybe it’s time to take some you time. Maybe you can put yourself right back out there and find someone better for you. Did you get fired? Take a look at your career and decide if that was actually the direction you wanted to go.
For me, even with small things, it makes me feel better to make a plan. I’ve been told I talk too loud (true story). I’ve tried to be more aware of this and also scheduled a much-needed hearing test with my doctor. Yes, it’s embarrassing but I feel better having a plan.
5. Acquire New Skills
The best way to bounce back from a hit to your ego is with personal development. Was there something you could have done differently? Here’s where you can grow from the experience and become better for it. If it was job related, what skills or education do you need to work on to amp up your resume?
I was once told by an employer that I needed to work on my organizational skills (this is still true, based on the thousands of unread emails I currently have in my inbox). At the time I worked hard to develop a method that would work for me to stay on top of many projects at once. I detailed that here.
6. Know You’ll Look Back Later and Be Grateful
Every time in my life that my ego has taken a huge hit, I’ve later wound up on a path that led me some place better. That college I wanted to go to so badly and I didn’t get accepted? I wound up at the perfect college for me and wouldn’t change that experience for the world. That job performance review that didn’t go so well? I later changed my career path completely. Or that time I got my heart smashed to pieces by a guy I really loved? Oh man, I am so freaking glad he dumped me.
It’s easy to look back later and see that everything worked out the way it was supposed to. In the moment, it feels brutal. But sometimes a hit to your ego is exactly what you need to send your life on a new path.
If you’re feeling up to it, share a time in your life when you took a blow to your ego and, most importantly, how you bounced back or learned from it. I think it helps for people to feel less alone when these things happen.