I was in an accident today – not the physical kind that leaves visible injuries, but the emotional kind when big egos collide into each other and leave shattered friendships all over the ground. I blush to admit that one of those big egos was mine. It’s now sitting back in an armchair wrapped in bandages, pondering what just happened and assessing the damage done.
Big egos collide in a disaster
A collision happens when one or both objects are headed in the wrong direction, and neither stops in time. This analogy works for me in the ego world. In my case, it was of course the other big ego headed in the wrong direction, because I know I am never wrong 😉
Still, when I look back on my flight path, I suppose I could have taken a different route. Instead of feeling insulted and misunderstood, I could have considered the fact that I did not communicate my intention well enough. Instead of defending myself, I could have apologised for being ambiguous.
Insisting on right of way
Story time! A ship’s captain noticed a blip on his radar which was directly in his path. He radioed the other ship to change course. The ship replied that he should change course himself. Again he instructed the other ship to change course. Again the ship refused. Finally he threatened to run over the other ship with his large tanker. The other ship calmly replied that he was welcome to run his tanker aground since the other ‘ship’ was actually a lighthouse.
Big egos collide in the same way big ships collide. They don’t like to change course. Their size gives them the illusion that they have right of way. Therefore they very often run aground.
Not stopping in time
The arrogant captain in the previous story presumably had the good sense to change course once he realised he was up against a lighthouse.
When I question my big ego sitting there in the armchair, it mumbles sheepishly when I ask if it could have stopped in time. “Why didn’t you just stop arguing?” “I wasn’t arguing, I was explaining.” “Could you tell from the reaction that your explanation wasn’t working?” “But I had to tell the truth from my point of view.” “So the other point of view has truth too, right?” “But my side of the story is more reasonable!“… We could go on all night this way.
Regardless of who is ‘at fault’, in a collision both parties lose. Parts get broken. Confidence is shaken. Momentum is lost.
And yet, not all is lost. We can choose our reactions to accidents. In some accidents, both parties get out of their cars and start screaming at each other. In others, both apologise and together work out a way to deal with the mess.
My big ego is thankfully not so stupid as to scream and point an accusing finger at the other big ego. Unfortunately, neither is it wise or humble enough to take the first step and apologise.
So we are in limbo at the moment – my big ego sitting in the armchair looking woeful and wronged, and me looking on in frustration because I can’t kick it out of the room. We live together, you see, my big ego and I.