Difference between self-centered and ego-centered:
Usually the words self-centric and ego-centric are used synonymously to mean the same thing. But, there is a considerable difference between the two. While being self-centered is to operate out of the real center of one’s self, ego-centric is to operate out of the imaginary center of one’s ego.
The difference between self and ego is very important to understand. Self is the real us which has its own desires, fears and dreams. Self is that part of us whose needs have to be taken care of irrespective of the situation and circumstances of life we find ourselves in. For example, food is the need and necessity of the self, we cannot live without it, and hence it is a need that has to be taken care of.
Ego on the other hand is a purely imagined part of us – a mental projection of who we are or what we want to be. Ego is very different from the self in the sense that ego has no firm reality of its own – it is constantly changing and evolving.
While the needs of the self can be satisfied, the needs of the ego are impossible to satisfy. The easiest way to get frustrated with life is to ignore the self and build our lives purely to satisfy the ego. Ego is a bottomless pit, you can add the entire universe into it and still it will feel empty.
Creativity, joy of work, success, happiness, and achievement can all be either a part of our self or a part of our ego. If these are rooted in our self, then life can be a sheer celebration. If they are all rooted in the ego then there is no escape from frustration.
The easiest way to shift the desires of the ego to the desires of the self is by totally internalizing, and understanding as to why you want to pursue what you are pursuing. There is no such thing as a meaningless goal, as long as your self recognizes the value in it.
The same activity can be done either to satisfy the ego or to satisfy the self. For example, one can paint for the sheer joy of painting, or to impress people around. As long as your desire stems from your Self to satisfy it, you will be rooted in reality. If not, it is very easy to get swept away in the endless pursuit of satisfying the ego.