“Quieting the ego” is the critical step toward being the strongest version of yourself, writes Scott Barry Kaufman for Scientific American.

The goal of the quiet ego approach is to arrive at a less defensive and more integrative stance toward the self and others — not to lose your sense of self or deny your need for the esteem of others.

You can very much cultivate an authentic identity that incorporates others without losing the self or feeling the need for narcissistic displays of winning, according to Kaufman. A quiet ego is an indication of healthy self-esteem, one that acknowledges one’s own limitations, avoids constantly resorting to defensiveness whenever the ego is threatened, but still has a firm sense of self-worth and competence.

The quiet ego consists of four deeply interconnected facets that can be cultivated: detached awareness, inclusive identity, perspective-taking and growth-mindedness. These four qualities of the quiet ego contribute to having a general stance of balance and growth toward the self and others. Here’s how they’re defined:

  • Detached Awareness. Those with a quiet ego have an engaged, non-defensive form of attention to the present moment. They are aware of both the positives and negatives of a situation, and their attention is detached from more ego-driven evaluations of the present moment.
  • Inclusive Identity. People whose egos are turned down in volume have a balanced, more integrative interpretation of the self and others. They understand other perspectives in a way that allows them to identify with the experience of others, break down barriers and come to a deeper understanding of common humanity.
  • Perspective-Taking. By reflecting on other viewpoints, the quiet ego brings attention outside the self, increasing empathy and compassion.
  • Growth-Mindedness. A concern for pro-social development and change for self and others over time causes those with a quiet ego to question the long-term effect of their actions in the moment and to view the present moment as part of an ongoing life journey instead of a threat to one’s self and existence.