If you spend any time on facebook, you may sometimes find yourself wondering why people decide to have a public and contentious debate on any given subject. Often by the time they give up, they have dragged any number of people in, and generated ill-will and hostility.
What did we do before facebook? Whatever happened to speaking directly to the person and clearing things up one on one? We get caught up in climbing on our soapbox and appealing to the crowd. When our feelings are hurt we instinctively try to rally like-minded individuals. But when all is said and done, did the original situation warrant the size of the reaction?
We sometimes let our ego drag us into tussles we have no need to be a part of. And even after we have lost sight of the original problem, we hold on to it like a dog to a bone, because now it is about us, it is about our ego. But where does this get us?
As a teacher I have had to learn that my students’ success or failure is not necessarily a reflection of my ability. It took me a while to get to this place. At first my ego saw my students’ success as my success. So naturally I was devastated by their failure, since that seemed to be my failure. That was the ego talking. Once you relax and give people control over their own fate, even as you provide them with the tools they need to succeed, it is a lot less stressful.
In relationships our ego often prevents us from truly communicating with our significant other. We are so busy trying to prove that we are right, that we stop hearing them. Even when we are right it may be good to concede a point to maintain the peace without losing our pride. It is when we quiet our ego that we have the potential to truly communicate with another person, to feel what they are feeling.
We are born seeing ourselves as the center of the universe. Our parents and caregivers orbit us, answering our every need. But with maturity comes an understanding that everyone else feels that they are the center of the universe also. And if we each have the right to our feelings, then we must concede that others have the same right. Once we shrink our ego down, we leave space for true compassion, and make the world a better place.
Driving up to Canada last week I was able to admire the beauty of nature. The hills were covered with a variety of trees, all clad in many shades of green. I saw Niagara Falls from the Canadian side – and stared in awe at the power of the water. When we are confronted with Mother Nature at her furious best, it helps to put things in perspective. It reminds us that each of us is a tiny insignificant spot in the universe. We are here for a brief flash of time in comparison to the life of the planet. Why then do we create such drama out of relatively small events?
We have been given so many reminders of the fragility of life. We take so much for granted: that we will take off in a plane and land safely far away; that we can go to bed at night and not have a train come crashing in; that our firefighters are superheroes that can withstand any conflagration. But the truth is that we delude ourselves when we think that we are immune from life’s disasters. Any of us can be a moment away from disappearing off the face of the earth. And when we recognize this fact, it helps us to step back and take ourselves a little less seriously.
This Friday morning I hope you can reflect on your own ego. Has it got you into trouble recently? Has it fooled you into thinking your way is the only way? Challenge yourself to see life from another person’s point of view. Walk a mile in their shoes, then maybe your own shoes will feel a little more comfortable after that.
Have a wonderful weekend Family!