The Right to Fight. Egos and Apologies

Ego. It is one piece of our identity that can be great. It can house our confidence and be self-affirming, it can increase our motivation and drive, it promotes the best of us to ourselves and to others. It does have purpose in our lives. But the ego is also fragile under it’s tough guy image. It is easily wounded, defensive, it always wants to be right and feels entitled to fight. It makes up our need to feel validated and can also make up a desire to overpower. It can gives us the internal oomph we need to be great in our lives but left unchecked it can make us unbalanced, distorting our perceptions and creating separation in our relationships with others. Being right at all costs can feel victorious but can also make for a lonely life. You might not think you need others but the truth is that we are created for connection, we aren’t supposed to be here alone and the ego has a nasty way of launching seek and destroy missions for our relationships with the greatest potential.

One of my favourite conversations about ego is in Eckardt Tolle’s A New Earth where he talks about the power struggle with ego and the need for awareness of it. In his dialogue the ego is a troublemaker – it is always looking for a problem and creating ones that aren’t there. I think it is increasingly difficult for us to remain humble because of ego but I do see that it has purpose and function in our lives also. The ego, to me, is like an adolescent -needs boundaries and supervision even though it thinks it knows everything.

Recognize what awakens your ego. We all have an achilles heel that draws our ego in. Start looking at the things that trigger you into emotional reactivity and stop letting them control your behaviour.

You know when your ego is engaged when you feel offended, defensive, argumentative, unyielding. Your ego wants to be right and wants to be vocal about it.

When you are offended – try to bring awareness to that. What are you reacting to? Are your perceptions accurate? Take a step back and check yourself. If there is validity in the feedback you’re getting, take your slice of humble pie and be grateful for the new knowledge. You can now make changes and “win” this fight in that way – by becoming better. If the feedback isn’t valid, realize that it’s coming from another person’s ego and often their projection of their own stuff onto you. We see people how we are, not necessarily how they really are – remember this is true for you too.

Know your ego habits. Our triggers draw us in in the moment, but what behavioural habits have we developed over time? Do you have a pattern of wanting to fight and engaging in verbal debates with others? Do you get a rush from it? Because I do. Not only is it pointless, at the end of it I’m the one that looks ridiculous and self-inflated, and often pompous and rigid whether I’ve won or not. The byproduct of that process is a temporary adrenaline rush followed by a receding of people from my life.

Don’t get sucked into every fight. You can be right and hold that stance without needing to prove it. You can say no without needing to explain it and you can learn to feel calmly powerful in your own dignity of not participating in every argument you’re invited to

Don’t over personalize your interactions with people. Constantly check your perceptions. Reign in your ego and choose your battles from a calm place not a reactive emotional one. When you do choose to engage make sure it’s worth it. There is a time for battle – it better be worth it from start to finish including collateral damage – make it matter to you on levels beyond your ego.

Practice damage control. Know when you need to back pedal, take a time out, or step up and apologize. You’re not supposed to be perfect, you’re just supposed to start creating awareness. And learn. Sometimes you’re going to screw up and whether it’s intentional or not is irrelevant. If someone respects you enough to give you feedback or let you know you’ve impacted them negatively, don’t run away like a coward. Be uncomfortable and tolerate it. Have the conversation. Apologize. This sets you apart from the masses that go running.

The ego wants to create separation and make it all about you. Start bringing awareness to your triggers and habits and start controlling your ego. You’re not an impish child or a rebellious teenager- you’re a grown adult, start acting with integrity in this way. Get grounded. Be rational in this area. Own your ego and rise above the common place bickering and runaway debates that are meaningless. Where there is separation or damage, go make it right.