Skip to Content

What Is Ego Strength and Why It Is Important?

Ego strength is the ability to effectively deal with the demands of reality while maintaining a sense of self. It involves qualities like resilience, adaptability, and the capacity to handle stress without causing problems with a person’s identity.

People who possess good ego strength are able to manage the adversity they face in life. They have good coping mechanisms so they can manage both internal and external distress effectively. When they do experience setbacks, they can bounce back relatively quickly.

Signs of Ego Strength

There are a few different signs that you or someone else possess good ego strength. Some of the telltale signs include:

  • Being resilient in the face of stress and adversity
  • Seeing yourself and others realistically 
  • Adapting readily when your circumstances change
  • Possessing healthy self-esteem
  • Being able to form and maintain healthy relationships
  • Looking at challenges as learning opportunities instead of obstacles

People with strong ego strength are also able to strike a balance between autonomy and self-control. This means they can balance their needs with the demands of the external world.

What Happens If People Lack Ego Strength?

Poor ego strength can create a variety of problems in a person’s life. Some key signs that a person has low ego strength include: 

  • An inability to cope with stress
  • Difficulty regulating emotions 
  • A grandiose or impaired sense of self
  • Self-doubt
  • Difficulty dealing with changes
  • Problems forming and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Feeling inadequate
  • Problems dealing with life’s challenges
  • Poor resilience
  • Experiencing learned helplessness
  • Using cognitive distortions 
  • Relying on unhealthy coping mechanisms

When people lack ego strength, they may be very sensitive to any criticism (or anything that might be perceived as criticism). They might avoid situations where they have to deal with feelings of inadequacy or rejection. They may also act impulsively when they are faced with feelings of distress. 

Benefits of Having Ego Strength

Ego strength is a good thing. Some of the key benefits that come from having healthy ego strength include:

Greater Resilience

People with strong ego strength are better equipped to bounce back from adversity and handle life’s challenges with resilience. When they experience setbacks, they rebound fairly quickly and rely on healthy coping mechanisms to manage their distress.

Better Emotional Stability

Ego strength plays a role in emotional regulation. People who are able to regulate their emotions effectively are able to respond in ways that are helpful and not destructive or impulsive.

Increased Adaptability

Having well-developed ego strength gives people the ability to adapt when situations change. They are more flexible, open to new experiences, and able to change their approach to deal with changing circumstances. 

Healthier Relationships

Ego strength also fosters stable and satisfying relationships. When people possess ego strength, they also tend to have better communication skills. This allows them to navigate complex interpersonal relationships with greater ease.

Better Life Satisfaction

People who have strong ego strength generally have a more positive outlook on life. They are often more satisfied with their own lives and have a strong sense of purpose. They know what matters to them are able to find meaning in their experiences.

Greater Contribution to Society

In Erikson’s developmental theory, ego strength is associated with generativity, a stage where individuals contribute to the well-being of future generations and society as a whole.

Together, these benefits support a more fulfilling and balanced life. This gives people the tools they need to navigate challenges, build meaningful connections, and experience personal growth.

History of Ego Strength

The concept of ego strength emerged from psychoanalytic theory, particularly in the works of Sigmund Freud. Freud described personality has having three components: the id, ego, and superego.

  • The id: The instinctual part of personality that is entirely unconscious
  • The superego: The idealistic part of personality that consists of society’s internalized standards 
  • The ego: The part of personality that finds a way to satisfy the needs of the id and superego in ways that work with the demands of reality

According to Freud, the ego acts as a sort of mediator between the demands of reality, the constraints of society, and the instinctual drives of the id. 

Over time, various psychologists, including Erik Erikson and Anna Freud, expanded on this idea, emphasizing the importance of a strong ego in psychological development. 

Ego strength became a crucial aspect of psychodynamic and humanistic theories, with later contributions from researchers like Erikson, who linked it to the successful resolution of psychosocial conflicts across the lifespan. 

Today, ego strength is an important concept when it comes to understanding how people navigate life’s challenges and maintain a cohesive sense of self.

Ego Strength in Erikson’s Theory

In Erik Erikson’s psychosocial developmental theory, ego strength plays a central role in each of the eight stages. 

Erikson proposed that individuals go through different psychosocial crises at various life stages. Successfully resolving these crises is an essential part of healthy development. 

Ego strength, according to Erikson, is crucial for effectively managing the crises that occur at each stage of development. 

For example, during the stage of “Identity vs. Role Confusion” in adolescence, individuals need a strong ego to form a stable identity. 

In the later stage of “Generativity vs. Stagnation,” ego strength is essential for contributing to society and future generations.

A well-developed ego enables individuals to navigate these challenges effectively. This allows people to successfully progress through each stage of development. It fosters personal growth and a sense of fulfillment at each stage of life.

Assessing Ego Strength

Ego strength might not be something you think about from day to day, but it is something that mental health professionals evaluate when they are assessing, diagnosing, and treating their clients. 

Ego strength is often assessed through a combination of clinical observation, interviews, and standardized psychological assessments. Some of the most common tools that are used include:

Clinical Interviews 

Mental health professionals use interviews to explore a person’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Questions may be designed to assess coping mechanisms, interpersonal relationships, and the individual’s ability to handle stress.

Psychological Assessments

Standardized tests and assessments may be used to measure specific aspects of ego strength, such as resilience, self-esteem, and coping strategies. 


Therapists and doctors observe individuals’ behavior to learn more about their symptoms, responses, and coping mechanisms. They may conduct observations in various situations to identify response patterns, adaptability, and emotional regulation. Consistent behavioral patterns can provide insights into ego strength.

Screening Inventories

People may also be asked to complete self-report questionnaires that gauge how they are doing and the symptoms they are experiencing. These screening tools can reveal information about ego strength.

By combining these methods, mental health professionals gain a comprehensive understanding of an individual’s ego strength. This allows therapists and other mental health professionals to develop interventions designed to support and enhance mental health.

How to Tell If You Have Ego Strength

If you are wondering about your own ego strength, there are some questions you might ask yourself to see how good yours might be. 

  • How do you typically handle challenges and setbacks? Are you able to bounce back and adapt to changes in a positive way?
  • How well do you manage and express your emotions? Do you find yourself overwhelmed, or are you generally able to maintain emotional balance?
  • Are you open to new experiences and flexible in different situations? How comfortable are you with change?
  • Do you generally have a positive sense of self?
  • Do you maintain healthy and satisfying connections with others?
  • Can you make clear decisions, and do you trust your judgment?
  • Do you feel fulfilled and find meaning in your life?

Honest self-reflection on these questions can provide insights into your own ego strength and areas for potential growth.

How to Develop Ego Strength

If your ego strength needs a little work, there are strategies you can use to make it stronger. Some things you can do to foster greater ego strength include:

Engage in Self-Reflection

Regularly reflecting on one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can enhance self-awareness, providing insight into personal strengths and areas for growth.

Work on Building Health Coping Strategies

Developing effective coping mechanisms, such as problem-solving skills and stress management techniques, can bolster resilience and help individuals navigate challenges.

Build Self-Regulation Skills

Learning to identify, understand, and manage emotions promotes emotional stability, contributing to a stronger sense of self. You can build your emotional regulation skills by noticing triggers, paying attention to physical sensations, and noticing the thoughts you have as you experience different emotional reactions.

Forge Positive, Supportive Relationships

Ego strength is heavily influenced by your social relationships. Building and maintaining supportive relationships can provide a sense of security and validation, contributing to a robust ego.

Build Your Flexibility

Having flexibility allows you to be more adaptable and ready to face challenges. Instead of responding to challenges with rigidity, you can adapt and bounce back more effectively without compromising your sense of self.

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness is also about being centered in the present moment. It can help you stop worrying about the past and future and instead focus on how you feel at this moment in time. Mindfulness and related techniques like meditation can help you build greater self-awareness and combat feelings of stress.

Talk to a Therapist

If you are still struggling, talking to a therapist can be helpful. A mental health professional can guide you through exploring any underlying issues that might be causing problems. You can also develop skills and coping mechanisms that support better functioning.

Building self-efficacy takes time. Incorporating a variety of these approaches can help you gradually build a stronger ego. In doing so, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges that life throws your way.

Key Points to Remember About Ego Strength

  • Ego strength is a concept in psychology that refers to an individual’s ability to effectively navigate and cope with the challenges of life.
  • It encompasses qualities such as resilience, adaptability, and the capacity to maintain a sense of identity and purpose in the face of adversity.
  • Ego strength is crucial for mental well-being, enabling individuals to balance their desires and societal expectations and foster a healthy sense of self.
  • A strong ego contributes to emotional stability, effective problem-solving, and the capacity to form meaningful relationships.


Lee JY, Lee Y ae, Yoo MS. Development of the child’s ego strength scale: an observation-based assessment of the board game behaviors in play therapy in Korea. Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2021;15(1):20. doi:10.1186/s13034-021-00369-3

Saul LJ, Warner SL. Mobilizing ego strengths. Int J Psychoanal Psychother. 1975;4:358-386.

Schuldberg D. Mental health: affective disorders. In: Encyclopedia of Creativity. Elsevier; 2011:94-101. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-375038-9.00005-4