No Egos Beyond This Point
ego humility pride
This realization sits well with my understanding of Buddhist psychology: there is a difference between an event an our reaction to it. Fear, anger, pride, disdain, joy: all of these are responses to things in the world, and they are not inherent in the world itself.
If we realize this, we can take a step back and avoid getting swept up in our emotions. Keeping this truth in mind allows us to take an active role in deciding how we respond to situations, since we are the ones who get to choose what our response it.
This allows us to make some pretty awesome steps in growth. Where normally we might respond with outrage when someone cuts us off in traffic, we can instead observe (respond physically by avoiding an accident), decide not to ruin our morning with anger, and get to work calm and focused.
Instead of responding with fear or anger when our loved one brings up a concern in the relationship, we can listen (which alone might do a lot of good), observe and learn, and formulate a response grounded in solving our mutual needs and desires. The first response can end in a breakup, while the second can lead to increased commitment and closeness.
We get to choose.
I had the chance to apply this lesson very soon after I learned it.
I am offering movement training in exchange for business consulting with a friend. When he started talking to me about my perception of jobs and financial stability, I realized that business consulting involved much more than simply discussing action plans and marketing ideas.
At first, I got really defensive, but he pointed out that we were trying to come to a joint solution on my issue, not impose his way of doing things on my life (he also told me bluntly not to get defensive, which served as a good reminder). I was aware of how agitated I was getting, but I was also aware that I wanted his advice.
So, instead of cutting him off at every opportunity, I tried to sit and listen and just learn.
I'll admit, it was really hard, and I certainly have a lot to work on, but by recognizing that my commitment to growing was more important than my need to defend my worldview (which wasn't really under attack anyway), we were able to come up with a perspective and a plan that clarified my goals and needs and communicated his ideas.
Basically, we reached a point of collaboration rather than descending into an argument. We could have left that meeting frustrated with only half a plan, but we were able to leave with a new sense of connection and a solid roadmap to how I can get on my feet financially.
Photo credit: sweetron1982 on Flickr