Confronted by outstanding merit, there is no way of saving one’s ego except by love. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
One of the single biggest life lessons that can change both your relationships and your ability to succeed is to learn how to get out of your own way. Generally we learn this lesson in hindsight, after we have already squandered an opportunity or harmed one of our relationships. This happened in my life on both fronts this week, thus now I am practicing a healthy dose of the self-forgiveness lesson instead.
The recent release of a book on Eco Sex that borrowed from my tagline on making love sustainable was the first example of my ego blocking me from my own success. I still remember the day that I got the email from Stephanie Weiss about providing samples for her new book on Eco Sex. She found our eco love products and was excited to include them in her book, which has received national attention, by the way. Her publishing house’s former editor had been talking to me about this book idea before she had left. My own book’s progress was languishing. Needless to say, all I could see was red. Good Clean Love products are not featured in her book as they could easily have been. It was a perfect, out of the book example of my ego getting in my own way.
Even more painful is when we see our egos lead us astray in our relationships. They whisper in our ears in a quiet yet determined beat about how our partner is not interested in spending time with us or willing to extend themselves in some social situations. The tune doesn’t have to play too long and we slip into a negative bias about all that our relationship doesn’t provide, completely overlooking and minimizing all the places where our partner shows up and sacrifices silently every day. My ego has still not learned the critical lesson of the benefit of the doubt. My ego still does not have the capacity to trust that even if my feelings are currently being hurt, my partner is doing the best that he can.
The crux of the issue in both these situations was that my feelings were hurt. I didn’t have to turn it into a losing battle about the right to some words, or even who got the deal with a publisher. Looking back at how my feelings controlled my behavior at that time, I feel silly and small. In the same way, I don’t have to spin the story of my husband’s disinterest or unavailability into a weekend long competition about who extends themselves more for the other. There is no winning in the one-up game, just senseless hurtful words that only increase the distance that I am suffering from anyway.
My ego rarely leads me to what my heart actually wants. If I couldn’t have gotten the book contract, I wish I could have used my heart so I could be included in it. If I can’t get my husband to be interested in what I want to do, I don’t have to trash all that he does do. I can just have my wounded heart, look at it and go on without turning the relationship in on itself. Healthy relationships add health and years to your life. Unhealthy ones are worse than being alone. I surrender. I know that what I want is not coming from my ego; it is a perspective that requires heart. I am not sure how many days in my life I will have to learn the lesson of which voice I want to listen for, but I am ready to give up the half truths that feel like the whole story when my ego is bruised and my feelings are hurt. How about you?