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Getting Out of Our Own Way

Getting Out of Our Own Way

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?

Read more: Love, Making Love Sustainable, Relationships, Sex, Spirit

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Wendy Strgar

Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love, is a loveologist who writes and lectures on Making Love Sustainable, a green philosophy of relationships which teaches the importance of valuing the renewable resources of love, intimacy and family.  In her new book, Love that Works: A Guide to Enduring Intimacy,  she tackles the challenging issues of sustaining relationships and healthy intimacy with an authentic and disarming style and simple yet innovative adviceIt has been called "the essential guide for relationships."  The book is available on ebook.  Wendy has been married for 27 years to her husband, a psychiatrist, and lives with their four children ages 13- 22 in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.


+ add your own
2:56PM PDT on May 2, 2013


7:13AM PDT on May 2, 2013

Be open

10:52AM PST on Feb 20, 2012

The best way to get out of your own way, is to make yourself available to someone or something else, in the form of service!

7:14AM PST on Feb 19, 2012


11:57AM PDT on Oct 21, 2011

It's hard to get out of your own way, though! And, in the case of an inattentive/insensitive partner, where would you draw the line? (Some of this article sounds a bit doormattish.) Practically, how do we best get out of our own ways?

6:03PM PDT on May 20, 2010

I lost my keys on the bus today and my ego went haywire! Luckily I have learned that it is my body reacting but I don't have to give in to the panic. I did what I needed to do if I never saw the keys again but it is always surprising how some events cause such a reaction. I am usually have a very "go with the flow" reaction to surprises but losing my keys and wallet somehow blamo!

8:57PM PDT on May 18, 2010

Getting what we want in our own way may either harm or hurt the other person. So it will not help a relationship. I guess we should really care to know the feelings of the other before we decide to make things possible in our own way. Thanks!

12:56AM PDT on May 11, 2010


2:06AM PDT on May 7, 2010

Interesting. It is good to have a healthy relationship with a two way acceptance being who we are in a balanced way.

8:25AM PDT on May 5, 2010

The ego's reactions are driven by feelings that are worthy of exploring. Usually the ego tries to maintain status quo. Change and challenge to the self disrupts this status..So when a book takes a tag line the ego has a good right to feel annoyed..It then up to the subconscious to generate ways to creatively handle and resolve this and chiding the ego may not be the most useful thing to do. How can you re group? How can you revise and protect your new tag lines? your products..the fruits of your labor? Drawing clearer boundaries and defining your parameters may also be the lessons at hand.. I agree that ego gets carried away with itself and must be kept in check. In personal relationships if the ego starts whispering answer it..Maybe how it is getting and grabbing your attention is not the best of ways..Maybe below the surface other feelings need to be addressed..The ego has a purpose ...It often acts like a child having a tantrum.. What makes the child have a tantrum? being tired? need for one on one attention? hunger? feeling frustrated? All of these feelings are important and need to be addressed. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us. Best of luck on your continued success. Stephanie Alt, MS

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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