Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset: Pride’s Predicament

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By Nor Akmal (23S03A) and Faith Wan (23S02B)

Your resident Aunties and Uncles are back with our Ask Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset column, this time as a collaboration between Raffles Press and Peer Helpers’ Programme (PHP)! Ever wanted to rant about that someone you just can’t stand? Overwhelmed with too many feelings? Submit your confessions to and we’ll give them our best shot. This column will be published at the end of every month.

how do i manage my large ego?

Arrogant Anon

Dear Arrogant Anon,

Everyone has an ego. After all, your ego is your self-esteem: you need to believe that you have the potential to keep taking on new challenges so that you don’t stagnate within your comfort zone. A high self-esteem is also crucial for positive mental health and well-being. It enables you to value yourself and maintain a healthy level of confidence.

However, problems may arise when your ego becomes too inflated and you perceive others as inferior, lesser individuals. Consequently, you may treat others in a more condescending manner or begin to rub others the wrong way. Nevertheless, there are ways to deflate that ego without popping it.

The first, and arguably the hardest step, to tackling a large ego is to acknowledge that it exists.

Being sufficiently self-aware to recognise your own character flaws and seek advice is something the Aunts and Uncles here are proud of you for. Kudos to you for recognising that it is a problem that needs to be addressed. 

Ego’s Emergence

Take some time to reflect on where your ego is coming from. Maybe you think you’ve “made it” since you’ve managed to land a spot in an elite JC. Perhaps you’ve experienced a string of successes that have greatly boosted your confidence. Or maybe you’ve found a circle of friends (or even a significant other!) which makes you feel ‘cooler’ than everyone else.

Our egos tend to be associated with our achievements and accolades as those are benchmarks of success and there’s nothing wrong in taking pride in such things. However, it’s good to examine how that success was reached. 

It’s easy to think that our own individual efforts are wholly responsible for our victories, but more often than not, there are other factors at play; like supportive parents and socio-economic privilege. Simply put, not everyone has had access to the same opportunities that enabled us to succeed. Identifying and accepting these contributing factors could make you more modest, as you no longer hold on to the belief that you, and your efforts alone, brought you this far. 

I Make Mistakes?

It is human nature to make mistakes. We’re sure you’ve also made your own fair share of mistakes (unless you’re not human, which we highly doubt). While the sting of failure may cause bitterness and stubbornness to fester, these feelings should never prevent you from admitting your shortcomings and apologising.

Perhaps you can look back on the way you’ve dealt with your mistakes in the past. Were you reluctant to admit to them, or even desperate to play the blame game, out of the fear of looking silly? 

A high ego is often associated with pride and the desire to maintain one’s ‘image’. Being humble enough to admit your mistakes honestly and without pretence will go a long way in managing your ego. Taking mistakes in your stride allows you to leave a better impression on others and make you much more pleasant and amiable to be around.

You Might be Better, but You’re Not the Best

Of course, it is okay to be proud of whatever you have achieved, or even revel in the joy for a while. However, you should be careful in thinking that these successes make you an inherently superior person: where you flounder and struggle, there will be others that shine, and it is important not to put others down for their weaknesses.

Instead of looking down on others, why not look towards those better than us as role models and a source of motivation? This not only keeps your ego in check, but also enables you to better yourself.

Capping the Conceit

Avoid excessive bragging and fishing for compliments. We’re sure everyone is familiar with the person that goes, “I only got 98 for Math :/” and expects others to shower them with praise. Such behaviour not only comes across as offensive (and honestly, rather insufferable) but also alienates others from you.

While it may be tempting to bask in the spotlight be careful not to let your arrogance get to your head. Taming your desire to “lowkey flex” may be difficult, especially if this behaviour is something you are used to. Instead of trying to prove yourself by airing your achievements to everyone with a metaphorical loudspeaker, why not put your best foot forward and let your results speak for themselves?

Throughout this article, self-realisation has been a recurring theme because, really, that’s the biggest step towards handling  a huge ego. Making changes to your personality is never easy, and more so if an egotistical mindset has been ingrained in you. However, being more mindful of the way you carry yourself and your words will definitely go a long way in curbing your ego. As a final word of advice, it’s also good to gather advice and feedback from those around you, like your trusted friends as we can be a bit blind to our own flaws sometimes. 

Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset wish you all the best in your journey of self-improvement!

Aunt Agony and Uncle Upset

If you need anyone to talk to about any issues you might be facing, do drop by My Rest Space near Marymount gate and talk to one of our peer helpers! We’re open on Tuesday from 2.30 – 4.30 p.m, Wednesday 11.00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m., Thursday 2.30 – 4.30 p.m. and Friday 1.30 – 4.30 p.m. If you would like to meet a peer helper on a regular basis, do email us a request at or fill in our request form at our website

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