The Right to Be Wrong

Our cul­ture is built for win­ners. Every­one else is a loser. Whose aim in life is to be a loser? Not me, cer­tainly, and I per­son­ally don’t know of any­one who has. So, what do we do in the game of win­ning? We try to be right as much as we pos­si­bly can. Even if we know we are wrong we will try to con­vince oth­ers that we are right, or we will look like losers. “Look­ing good” is impor­tant. It projects a win­ner.  And I don’t mean just looks, but a gen­eral per­cep­tion of oth­ers that we are “in the know,” that we are always right, that we know what we are talk­ing about, that our judg­ments are cor­rect. We want to be trust­wor­thy and reli­able. We want to be RIGHT. We expect that oth­ers want to be right too and we “know” that if we admit that we are wrong oth­ers will not only gloat, make us look bad, lose respect for us, but also take advan­tage of us in every way possible.

All these attempts at being right are masks to hide behind in order to look good, but being always right is an impos­si­ble task to accom­plish. Suc­cess­ful peo­ple in busi­ness and in rela­tion­ships (busi­ness is made of rela­tion­ships like most any other action in life) have made dis­pro­por­tion­ally more mis­takes and have been many times more wrong than right.

The road to suc­cess is paved with failures.

One of the main com­plaints in unsuc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships is “we fight a lot.” Why do peo­ple fight? You guessed it: each per­son keeps insist­ing they are right by furi­ously jus­ti­fy­ing their posi­tion, by mak­ing their part­ner wrong and inval­i­dat­ing their partner’s point of view in order to win an argu­ment, so as not to be per­ceived as a “loser”. This down­ward spi­ral causes ver­tigo from which it is hard to recover.

So how do win­ners deal with los­ing, with being wrong and recover from their mistakes?

The rule of thumb is: the more insis­tent, sig­nif­i­cant and seri­ous you are about being right the more dif­fi­cult it is to recover, which implies that the more will­ing you are to admit, or could be wrong, and the sooner you can do it, the eas­ier it is to stop the down­ward spi­ral into rela­tion­ship dis­in­te­gra­tion. If you screw up a lot, you would even have to use that dreaded action to pub­li­cally or for­mally APOLOGIZE, which most peo­ple avoid like the plague.

I like to say that your rela­tion­ship is as good as your last conversation.

My inten­tion in this arti­cle is to uncover the lunacy of spend­ing our ener­gies, and indeed our lives, try­ing to be right about every­thing. Only peo­ple with low self-esteem and a low opin­ion of them­selves insist on being right all the time in a futile attempt to hide their inse­cu­ri­ties. If you are one of those peo­ple I sug­gest that you start doing exactly the oppo­site. Start being authen­tic. Stop hid­ing behind your right­eous­ness. Oth­ers will admire you for your courage, which most likely they them­selves do not have.  Peo­ple want to be right for fear of not being accepted, being shunned, rejected, not respected and, of course, not loved, when in fact the result is quite opposite.

This is how we “intu­itively” react to sit­u­a­tions when the right actions may be quite counter-intuitive: Most of our behav­ior is con­ducted from our rep­til­ian brain, our fight or flight instinct. We some­how uncon­sciously equate a chal­leng­ing con­ver­sa­tion with an encounter with a saber-tooth tiger. This brain, which has direct access to the emo­tional cen­ter (the amyg­dala), decides our actions. Becom­ing aware of what is REALLY hap­pen­ing, i.e., pro­cess­ing it through your con­scious mind (the neo-cortex), will uncover other pos­si­bil­i­ties and oppor­tu­ni­ties to “sur­vive” a con­ver­sa­tion with­out the knee-jerk reac­tion of hav­ing to be right.

In con­clu­sion: enjoy being wrong. You might as well, because most of the time you are. Con­sider that your beliefs are just that: YOUR beliefs, not nec­es­sar­ily facts. Allow oth­ers to have theirs. The world is not made to your spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Be gra­cious with oth­ers by allow­ing them to be wrong with­out beat­ing them up about it and mak­ing them wrong about being wrong. In other words, stop being right about their being wrong. If not imme­di­ately, but soon, they will start to rec­i­p­ro­cate, which ulti­mately leads to a great rela­tion­ship where each of you can be com­pletely authen­tic, and have the free­dom to be yourself.

To have a great rela­tion­ship you must give up the right to be right. Be a winner!

Good luck.


Don’t Tell Me What To Do!

When I was about 17, my par­ents strongly objected to some of my friends. Yes, they were my friends and my par­ents didn’t know them nearly as well as I did oth­er­wise they would have agreed with my point of view. The more they protested about my spend­ing time with them the more time I invested into our friend­ship. To tell the truth – and after all these years I can – even then I intu­itively knew that they were right, but there was no way that I would ever do what they told me to do. My eager­ness and need to be right and the power of mak­ing my own deci­sions was sim­ply over­whelm­ing. Sure enough, most of those friends turned out either not to be such good friends as I imag­ined. Sev­eral of them became alco­holics, or ended up in jail. And, yes, I admit my par­ents were right. They knew what was good for me and they acted as respon­si­ble par­ents to the best of their abilities.

No-one-tells-me-what-to-do atti­tude is per­fectly nor­mal for teenagers any­where. Their need to break away from their par­ents’ influ­ence and prove them­selves as able to be suc­cess­ful and respon­si­ble in the “real world”, is healthy and nec­es­sary behav­ior for the devel­op­ment of a healthy psy­che. But as we mature this atti­tude may present a sig­nif­i­cant bar­rier to healthy rela­tion­ships and a happy life.

First, this kind of rebel behav­ior may result in push­ing away any­one who comes close to you. This is how it usu­ally works: You know from your own expe­ri­ence that it is very easy for you to see when oth­ers are about to do some­thing that will not serve them well. If that per­son is a stranger or just an acquain­tance you most likely will not open your mouth to stop them. But, if it is some­one you care about, you will do your utmost to point out the fal­lacy of his/her intended actions. So, when­ever you become resis­tant to the sug­ges­tions of the peo­ple who care about you, you are jump­ing into don’t-tell-me-what-to-do modus operandi. In other words, you are digress­ing into a teenager. I cer­tainly do not pro­pose that you should accept all rec­om­men­da­tions from every­one who cares about you. What I am sug­gest­ing is open­ness to the pos­si­bil­ity and will­ing­ness to con­sider other points of view.

This kind of resis­tance to do what peo­ple ask you to do (or not to do) is a sign of inse­cu­rity, low self-esteem, infe­ri­or­ity com­plex and such. The more often you exer­cise your “right” to do what you want, the more you alien­ate peo­ple around you and more you push your­self in the direc­tion of inse­cu­rity and low self-esteem. Choos­ing not to do what peo­ple ask you to do is just as much a free choice as accept­ing other people’s requests and sug­ges­tions. You have right to change your mind. The choice is always yours. Be respon­si­ble for it. By refus­ing other people’s requests because you did not gen­er­ate the idea, and think­ing that some­how by accept­ing it you will lose power, is a vic­tim behav­ior. The choice is always yours no mat­ter which way you go. In fact, by accept­ing, or at least con­sid­er­ing and being will­ing to dis­cuss it in order to learn more about other people’s point of view, you show gen­eros­ity, trust, respect, under­stand­ing and secu­rity in your own beliefs. Para­dox­i­cally, the more you are open to the pos­si­bil­ity of chang­ing your mind the more you gain self-esteem. Most cul­tures teach us that chang­ing your mind under any cir­cum­stances makes you a per­son of a weak char­ac­ter, wishy-washy and less respected by oth­ers. Con­sider the fol­low­ing: you decide to do some­thing against other’s rec­om­men­da­tion, and you fail. Who do you blame? Your­self, of course (low esteem). Do you learn from the expe­ri­ence? No, you don’t. You vow that you’ll do it bet­ter the next time using the same strat­egy of the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do vari­ety. Do you give credit to the per­son who sug­gested oth­er­wise? No, you resent him/her even more. What hap­pens if you suc­ceed? Do you give your­self credit? Rarely. It’s just you. You just made a good choice. That’s it. You were lucky this time (low self-esteem). Your rela­tion­ship with that per­son worsens.

Now con­sider that you take some­one else’s advice. If you fail, what do you think? You see, I told you so. I should have done it my way. (Higher opin­ion of your­self.) If you suc­ceed, you will be grate­ful to him/her and you will praise your­self for mak­ing a good choice of accept­ing the sug­ges­tion and exe­cut­ing it (high self-esteem). Your rela­tion­ship with that per­son will become stronger.

So, yes, just as you have right do to what you want to do, no mat­ter what advice you get, you also absolutely have right to change your mind to your ben­e­fit and take other people’s advice. These are the two equal sides of the same coin.

Again, by all means, you should NOT go around doing what every­one tells you to do (low self-esteem), but being able to make a sound choice free of the bag­gage from the past, or emo­tions that may pop up unbid­den at those moments of deci­sion. Some­times even “blind trust”, although nor­mally regarded as irre­spon­si­ble, is accept­able. Think of pro­fes­sional advi­sors, teacher, friends and oth­ers that you trusted blindly, maybe with mixed results, which, by the way, will always be mixed, i.e., we will always make occa­sional mis­takes whether we do what we want, or if we lis­ten to other’s advice. Mis­takes are a part of life. Learn to live with them. But at least with the absence of the don’t-tell-me-what-to-do atti­tude you will have hap­pier life, bet­ter rela­tion­ships and open end for self-growth and being a respon­si­ble wise adult instead of a per­pet­ual teenager.

Doing what oth­ers request from you, being a “yes” per­son, will pro­vide you with an oppor­tu­nity for ser­vice, whether it is gladly bring­ing your part­ner a cup of cof­fee*, or car­ing for the sick and elderly, or any­thing in between. We grow by serv­ing oth­ers. We serve our­selves by serv­ing oth­ers. We are social ani­mals. “Doing onto oth­ers what they want done to them­selves” is a higher motto for peace­ful rela­tion­ships and peace the world. It is an atti­tude of peace, not con­fronta­tion. It is about care, con­tri­bu­tion, pros­per­ity, effi­ciency, effec­tive­ness and self-growth from teenage-hood to adult­hood. Remem­ber the choice is always yours.

To be bound by our choices is not to have lost our freedom

but to have exer­cised it.”

Robert Brault


*See The Rela­tion­ship Saver: “Reverse the process”


Susccess & Hapiness

Great arti­cle.

What is your expe­ri­ence of a relationship

between suc­cess and happiness?

The San­dra Bul­lok Trade

By David Brooks
The New York Times
March 30, 2010

Two things hap­pened to San­dra Bul­lock this month. First, she won an Acad­emy Award for best actress. Then came the news reports claim­ing that her hus­band is an adul­ter­ous jerk. So the philo­sophic ques­tion of the day is: Would you take that as a deal? Would you exchange a tremen­dous pro­fes­sional tri­umph for a severe per­sonal blow?

On the one hand, an Acad­emy Award is noth­ing to sneeze at. Bul­lock has earned the admi­ra­tion of her peers in a way very few expe­ri­ence. She’ll make more money for years to come. She may even live longer. Research by Don­ald A. Redelmeier and Shel­don M. Singh has found that, on aver­age, Oscar win­ners live nearly four years longer than nom­i­nees that don’t win.

Nonethe­less, if you had to take more than three sec­onds to think about this ques­tion, you are absolutely crazy. Mar­i­tal hap­pi­ness is far more impor­tant than any­thing else in deter­min­ing per­sonal well-being. If you have a suc­cess­ful mar­riage, it doesn’t mat­ter how many pro­fes­sional set­backs you endure, you will be rea­son­ably happy. If you have an unsuc­cess­ful mar­riage, it doesn’t mat­ter how many career tri­umphs you record, you will remain sig­nif­i­cantly unfulfilled.

This isn’t just ser­mo­niz­ing. This is the age of research, so there’s data to back this up. Over the past few decades, teams of researchers have been study­ing hap­pi­ness. Their work, which seemed flimsy at first, has devel­oped an impres­sive rigor, and one of the key find­ings is that, just as the old sages pre­dicted, worldly suc­cess has shal­low roots while inter­per­sonal bonds per­me­ate through and through.

For exam­ple, the rela­tion­ship between hap­pi­ness and income is com­pli­cated, and after a point, ten­u­ous. It is true that poor nations become hap­pier as they become middle-class nations. But once the basic neces­si­ties have been achieved, future income is lightly con­nected to well-being. Grow­ing coun­tries are slightly less happy than coun­tries with slower growth rates, accord­ing to Carol Gra­ham of the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion and Eduardo Lora. The United States is much richer than it was 50 years ago, but this has pro­duced no mea­sur­able increase in over­all hap­pi­ness. On the other hand, it has become a much more unequal coun­try, but this inequal­ity doesn’t seem to have reduced national happiness.

On a per­sonal scale, win­ning the lot­tery doesn’t seem to pro­duce last­ing gains in well-being. Peo­ple aren’t hap­pi­est dur­ing the years when they are win­ning the most pro­mo­tions. Instead, peo­ple are happy in their 20’s, dip in mid­dle age and then, on aver­age, hit peak hap­pi­ness just after retire­ment at age 65.

Peo­ple get slightly hap­pier as they climb the income scale, but this depends on how they expe­ri­ence growth. Does wealth inflame unre­al­is­tic expec­ta­tions? Does it desta­bi­lize set­tled rela­tion­ships? Or does it flow from a vir­tu­ous cycle in which an inter­est­ing job pro­duces hard work that in turn leads to more inter­est­ing opportunities?

If the rela­tion­ship between money and well-being is com­pli­cated, the cor­re­spon­dence between per­sonal rela­tion­ships and hap­pi­ness is not. The daily activ­i­ties most asso­ci­ated with hap­pi­ness are sex, social­iz­ing after work and hav­ing din­ner with oth­ers. The daily activ­ity most inju­ri­ous to hap­pi­ness is com­mut­ing. Accord­ing to one study, join­ing a group that meets even just once a month pro­duces the same hap­pi­ness gain as dou­bling your income. Accord­ing to another, being mar­ried pro­duces a psy­chic gain equiv­a­lent to more than $100,000 a year.

If you want to find a good place to live, just ask peo­ple if they trust their neigh­bors. Lev­els of social trust vary enor­mously, but coun­tries with high social trust have hap­pier peo­ple, bet­ter health, more effi­cient gov­ern­ment, more eco­nomic growth, and less fear of crime (regard­less of whether actual crime rates are increas­ing or decreasing).

The over­all impres­sion from this research is that eco­nomic and pro­fes­sional suc­cess exists on the sur­face of life, and that they emerge out of inter­per­sonal rela­tion­ships, which are much deeper and more important.

The sec­ond impres­sion is that most of us pay atten­tion to the wrong things. Most peo­ple vastly over­es­ti­mate the extent to which more money would improve our lives. Most schools and col­leges spend too much time prepar­ing stu­dents for careers and not enough prepar­ing them to make social deci­sions. Most gov­ern­ments release a ton of data on eco­nomic trends but not enough on trust and other social con­di­tions. In short, mod­ern soci­eties have devel­oped vast insti­tu­tions ori­ented around the things that are easy to count, not around the things that mat­ter most. They have an affin­ity for mate­r­ial con­cerns and a pri­mor­dial fear of moral and social ones.

This may be chang­ing. There is a rash of com­pelling books — includ­ing “The Hid­den Wealth of Nations” by David Halpern and “The Pol­i­tics of Hap­pi­ness” by Derek Bok — that argue that pub­lic insti­tu­tions should pay atten­tion to well-being and not just mate­r­ial growth nar­rowly conceived.

Gov­ern­ments keep ini­ti­at­ing poli­cies they think will pro­duce pros­per­ity, only to get sacked, time and again, from their spir­i­tual blind side.


Do Women Have An Agenda?

Do women have an ulte­rior motive when they start a relationship?

Oh, yes they do! Now, let’s see how this works. I under­stand that it is a gen­er­al­iza­tion, but we are gen­er­ally either men or women, so this would apply to all of us to a larger or smaller degree whether we are aware of it or not.

Every­one knows what a man’s agenda is, at least at the begin­ning of a “roman­tic” rela­tion­ship. It’s sex, loud and clear. We men of course will not admit it out loud, but that’s what we dream of when we encounter a woman we “like”. Women know that as well and they use it, con­sciously or not, to attract men.  So, now women know what we want, but are we men aware of what and if women want some­thing from us. Gen­er­ally speak­ing, yes, unless we get “roman­ti­cally” involved, i.e., fall in love. At that point we’d like to think that we swept them off their feet.  In other words, we pre­fer to be blind and have our ego take over. We like to think that a woman was attracted to us for who we are, because of our per­son­al­ity, because we are funny, well-built, macho, smart, intel­li­gent, good look­ing, etc. Usu­ally noth­ing can be fur­ther from the truth.

Our agenda when we meet a woman we are attracted to is sex; women’s agenda — whether they know it or not – is a com­mit­ted rela­tion­ship lead­ing to mar­riage. Women don’t date, only men do. That all-encompassing motive may have any one of many sub-motives, including:

-    Want­ing to be res­cued from a frus­trat­ing life sit­u­a­tion
–    Want­ing to get away from con­trol­ling par­ents or a dis­sat­is­fy­ing rela­tion­ship with a man.
–    Want­ing to be taken care of, finan­cially and/or emo­tion­ally, specif­i­cally, want­ing some­one to pro­tect her from the things that she fears. Those may include being alone and being respon­si­ble for her­self, mak­ing deci­sions, deal­ing with money mat­ters, or deal­ing with the every­day stresses and con­flicts of life.
–    Want­ing to be val­i­dated as lov­able and attrac­tive.
–    Want­ing a baby.

Just as a man trans­forms a woman into an object when it comes to his dreams about sex, so does a woman uncon­sciously trans­form the man into an object. She is attracted to him for his poten­tial func­tion in her life, a motive she will deny because she wants to believe that her motive is pure love. Her denial is no dif­fer­ent from a man’s denial when he says, “I really do love you. I’m not just after sex.”

In my expe­ri­ence most of the rela­tion­ships that fall apart started with “love” of this sort: blind­ness or the denial of real rea­sons and agen­das most likely were at work at the time. Just by look­ing at how rela­tion­ships started one can pretty much pre­dict how they will end if there were no per­sonal devel­op­ment work involved i.e., if the aware­ness level has not been raised and each per­son came to grips with real­ity. Rela­tion­ships that start with such infat­u­a­tion usu­ally start dis­in­te­grat­ing as soon as the orig­i­nal needs and motives for start­ing the rela­tion­ship have been real­ized. The rea­son for “lov­ing” has dis­si­pated and the man becomes just another annoy­ing per­son with all his pos­i­tive char­ac­ter­is­tics which were the orig­i­nal rea­son for enter­ing into a rela­tion­ship with him turn­ing into faults. His being strong and tough becomes a bully and insen­si­tive, being suc­cess­ful into “never spend­ing enough time with the fam­ily”, being funny into always telling crude jokes, etc. This is not to say that men have no part to play in these dynamics.

Men are equally respon­si­ble because of their resis­tance to look­ing at the true nature of the rela­tion­ship in the first place, along with the need to believe the unbe­liev­able – namely, that they are irre­sistibly lov­able just for being themselves.

The inher­ent rea­son for such auto­matic behav­ior on both sides is well explained in The Game­less Rela­tion­ship so I’m not going to repeat it here. Suf­fice it to say that 15,000 years of liv­ing in sur­vival mode have cre­ated deep roots in our way of think­ing and deal­ing with real­i­ties, that we most of the time oper­ate on auto­matic and rarely stop to smell the roses and attempt to be authen­tic because being authen­tic, although seem­ingly dan­ger­ous at times, will not sum­mon a saber tooth tiger to threaten our very life.

Rela­tion­ships that start with a healthy atti­tude and gen­uine love – which is often con­fused with “being IN love” – have a much bet­ter chance of sur­vival. Maybe there is some­thing to be said in favor of “arranged” mar­riages, but I’ll leave that sub­ject for future articles.

Love to all,




On Being Right II

Hav­ing trou­ble in your rela­tion­ship?  Here are three sug­ges­tions how to get it going again.

1.  Give up your right to be right.

It feels sooo good to be right!  I do not know a sin­gle per­son who does not enjoy it. It makes us smart, intu­itive, more respected and liked. Right? Not really. Espe­cially in our rela­tion­ship, when we insist on being right, fight over an issue, try to prove our­selves, look for approval, and behave aggres­sively. In fact, when we try to be right we make it impos­si­ble to have a con­ver­sa­tion. We can’t really talk to each other, and there­fore, we can’t be in a relationship.

How many rela­tion­ships do you know that have fallen apart due to one person’s unwill­ing­ness to give up the right to be right? You may even say: “But he/she was right. It’s the fact. I know it”. But it really comes down to a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ties. What is your pri­or­ity when it comes to a dis­agree­ment; to be right and dam­age your rela­tion­ship, or to really com­mu­ni­cate and help your rela­tion­ship flourish?

Giv­ing up your right to be right does not mean that you are going to let any­one abuse you in any way. It just means allow­ing the other per­son to have their point of view, which you are will­ing to con­sider, or agree to disagree.

If you are right, then you make the other per­son WRONG. No one likes to be wrong.  It would be much smarter to lis­ten to the other per­son and rec­og­nize what works with their point of view instead of what does not.

2.  Lis­ten

Most of us pre­fer to be heard, to say what we want to say, to express our­selves, to get our point across. What would it look like if all of us would do that all the time out loud? There would be no one to lis­ten. Every­one would be talk­ing. In fact, this is exactly what is hap­pen­ing all the time, except that we are talk­ing to our­selves while pre­tend­ing to lis­ten. We even pre­tend with our body lan­guage to lis­ten when instead we are judg­ing and assess­ing, eval­u­at­ing, think­ing about what we would say next, think­ing about some­thing entirely dif­fer­ent, or just sim­ply check­ing out. We have so much invested in what we think that we actu­ally believe that our own real­ity is the only valid and the right one, that only our inter­pre­ta­tions and mean­ings are real, good, right and true. We do not even try to con­sider other peo­ples views. We just com­pare them with our own views. If they match, then they are right.  If they don’t, then they are wrong. What’s more, we have fixed expec­ta­tions about what we will hear from the other per­son – espe­cially the ones close to us –that we have already decided about it. We hear what we want to hear and NOT what’s being said. What are the chances of the other per­son say­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent and actu­ally being heard? As far as you are con­cerned, the chances are prob­a­bly nonexistent.

Con­sider how your rela­tion­ship, and in fact your life, would change if you were to lis­ten to the other per­son as if they may have some­thing cru­cially impor­tant to com­mu­ni­cate to you. What if you could actu­ally learn some­thing extra­or­di­nary if you only lis­tened with­out all the thoughts that fill your mind? You might actu­ally hear some­thing. You might even dis­cover some­thing won­der­ful and new about the other per­son that would be so sur­pris­ing to you, and your whole rela­tion­ship might shift. We were not given two ears and one mouth for noth­ing. Just con­sider that.  Try it out. Your rela­tion­ship will improve by leaps and bounds.

3.  Be vulnerable

Both of the above skills require you to let your guard down. By talk­ing and being right we think we are assert­ing our­selves. Instead what is really hap­pen­ing is that our ego takes con­trol.  Our ego has only one agenda: to be right in order to sur­vive. We are still dri­ven by the neces­sity to sur­vive a saber-tooth tiger, but our lower brain with thou­sands of years pro­gram­ming does not dis­tin­guish between a saber-tooth tiger and a sim­ple con­ver­sa­tion. In for both cases adren­a­lin kicks in. So, every con­ver­sa­tion auto­mat­i­cally becomes a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion for us. The only thing that will save us from this self-destructive behav­ior, is to use our abil­ity to self-reflect and become highly self-aware, to observe our thoughts, feel­ings and actions. In other words, ask your­self a ques­tion: What the hell am I doing? Am I under­min­ing my rela­tion­ship and my hap­pi­ness by try­ing to sur­vive? Sur­vive WHAT? My recommendation…learn to be vul­ner­a­ble. There is really noth­ing to sur­vive. The only way to have a great rela­tion­ship is to let your guard down and be vul­ner­a­ble. Besides, being vul­ner­a­ble is very charm­ing and attrac­tive.  Try it!

Aware­ness exercise:

•    How impor­tant to you is it to be right in a con­ver­sa­tion?  (scale of 1 to 10)
•    Think of some past con­ver­sa­tion that has dam­aged your rela­tion­ship. Was it worth it?
•    Pay atten­tion to what goes on in your mind when you are lis­ten­ing to some­one talk­ing, espe­cially when you have some­thing invested in the out­come.
•    Notice your feel­ings when you think you are in a vul­ner­a­ble position.







Ego In A Relationship

ego |ˈēgō|
noun ( pl. egos)
a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

I am not a psy­chol­o­gist, so I’m not going to go in depth about all the facets of ego, super ego, etc. For the pur­poses of this arti­cle, I will con­cen­trate on the above def­i­n­i­tion and what it means for rela­tion­ships. In this “new age” we often hear that in order to be spir­i­tu­ally and even morally and eth­i­cally advanced we must shed our ego because it is some­how in our way. Hav­ing an ego, or a large ego (what­ever that means), in our mod­ern cul­ture is a bad thing. Noth­ing can be fur­ther from the truth.

Ego is not only indis­pens­able – you can­not get rid of it because it is part of your per­son­al­ity – but also very nec­es­sary in order to have, as it says above, a sense of self. Now, we can talk about a healthy or unhealthy, bal­anced or unbal­anced ego. Where in our rela­tion­ship does this ego, or sense-of-self, come into play? A per­son who has low self-esteem is prone to being a vic­tim, depressed, a drug addict, an alco­holic, etc. The other man­i­fes­ta­tion for low self esteem (the self-importance part) is when one’s ego is arti­fi­cially boosted, which usu­ally hap­pens in order to com­pen­sate for some short­com­ing. These peo­ple hav­ing a low self-esteem will do any­thing to mask it, hide it, pre­tend that they have high self-esteem and try to con­vince oth­ers of the same. They develop their own kind of sur­vival strat­egy doing oppo­site of the ones who acknowl­edge it and exhibit their depres­sion, vic­tim­hood and other short­com­ings, by being overly ambi­tious and very suc­cess­ful (which doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make them happy), or become bul­lies, abusers, right­eous fanat­ics, or even crim­i­nals. Exhib­ited low self-esteem and con­versely exag­ger­ated self-importance are detri­ment to one’s grasp of real­ity, thus cre­at­ing a dis­cord between their own per­cep­tion of them­selves and that of others.

Curi­ously enough, our cul­ture treats low self-esteem as nor­mal, espe­cially if our behav­ior com­pen­sates for it; in other words if we pre­tend well oth­ers buy into it. In my prac­tice I have never met a per­son with gen­uinely high self-esteem. Peo­ple with “very high self-esteem” and grandiose think­ing are con­sid­ered to have delu­sional dis­or­ders (isn’t low-self esteem delu­sional as well?), and are usu­ally put into insti­tu­tions under the guise of Napoleons and Cleopa­tras. Those who do not end up in a men­tal insti­tu­tion become so-called great lead­ers such as Idi Amin, Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, and … you name it.

All these ego imbal­ances have con­se­quences and they show the most with those we are clos­est to in our rela­tion­ships. As you can see, main­tain­ing a healthy and bal­anced ego is of the utmost impor­tance if one is going to main­tain a happy rela­tion­ship. Med­i­tat­ing and hav­ing some kind of spir­i­tual prac­tice, doing yoga, exer­cis­ing etc., is all very well and they should not be neglected, but neglect­ing aware­ness about who you are, how you occur to oth­ers, hav­ing your bound­aries, pre­cisely defined val­ues, ethics, being in integrity and aware what you tol­er­ate (where you are out of integrity), in other words, with­out keep­ing your ego healthy and in bal­ance, hap­pi­ness and suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships will always be out of your reach. (Remem­ber, you choose your part­ners too.)

Hav­ing a healthy ego means hav­ing a strong sense of self as sep­a­rate from oth­ers. Hav­ing clear bound­aries and dis­tinc­tions between our own feel­ings, thoughts, needs and desires and those of oth­ers, and also being respon­si­ble for what’s our own.

I may be delu­sional, but I think this arti­cle is great! Of course I am never good enough, but that’s another story. :>)

Man­i­fest your best.




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