The Danger of Ego

A huge emotional week for me this week. In fact, for a lot of people I know, and predominantly the little people I adore at my school. Hence the heightened level of emotion for me. And for my colleagues.

I was reflecting upon this on my very long journey home this afternoon (to see new blinds installed beautifully throughout my home). I was cataloguing the different incidences, and I realised that most of the ‘things’ that have caused pain and hardship this week arose from the ego. And by ego, I refer to Ekhart Tolle’s conception of ego; that voice in our head that reacts without thought and that doesn’t process the reality or intent of what is said or done.

It is hard being a human in today’s world (harder being a lion, a dentist or Nick Krygios). But realistically, most of our major problems exist as a result of our own actions, or the actions of other people (dentist and Nick included here). A pursuit to be right, to be the best, to be renowned, often without thought for the consequences for others.


How can that ever work.

We are all intrinsically connected. Every action provokes a reaction. If we disempower another person, that action upsets our ecological balance.

I honestly can’t remember if I expressed last night how badly I felt yesterday when I was informed that my careless words hurt another person. I was mortified with myself. The words weren’t bad, my usual sense of humour, but they didn’t take into account the potential personal context of the person they were spoken to. I didn’t know their context so in a sense, not my fault.

However, I don’t see it that way.

There was absolutely no intentional malice. In fact, quite the contrary. But I am still liable for some responsibility for the person’s hurt. And I acknowledged it.

To myself, and then, to them.

We spoke about it today. They said I had nothing to be sorry for. I am still sorry. But we are good.

I could have been ego driven and ignored their pain. They could have been ego driven and milked or ignored my very sincere apology.

We both chose the higher ground. As a result, we are good and we are, in fact, stronger than we were.

I was involved in guiding a mediation with some of my students today. I warned them from the outset that I need their honesty for this to work. And by honesty, I explained emotional honesty, the feelings below the words. It is exhausting but we really move forward without mere lip service to resolution.

It took us a full forty minutes, but the kids let their walls down, pushed through their egos, and acknowledged that they felt hurt, left out and betrayed by the other. Talking it through, me helping the kids look for the emotion/reality behind the words, helped them reach the understanding that everything has happened because they were scared to speak honestly about how they were feeling.

I am soooooo proud of these four kids. They achieved in forty minutes (maybe not permanently) what most adults have failed to achieve in their lifetime: emotional honesty and integrity.

It ended with one of the kids buying the others a chocolate. They all left smiling. They had been heard, really heard, by the others and it validated their existence.

Egos are dangerous things.

They hurt others, but more significantly, they limit the potential of each of our lives.

And that hurts our entire world.

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