The other day my wife and I had a fight, and she called me an egotist. Although there are always at least two viewpoints to every argument – and I don’t want to get into too much personal detail here – the statement made me reflect. Although I did not agree with her point of view, in essence I had to agree that I have an egotistic streak in me. But isn’t that a good thing? How can you ever be confident and successful if you don’t like or respect yourself? Certainly a measure of egotism is healthy. But the question is how much is good and how do you know when to tone down or ramp up your egotism?
It’s clear that for any relationship to work, there needs to be some kind of balance from both sides – and I suspect there is no real recipe or formula. The equilibrium in each relationship will lie at a different point, probably between 40 and 60 per cent, depending on the individuals. Only the involved partners can define the point of equilibrium, as it is dictated by their own comfort levels. With equilibrium, love and respect can flourish and relationships can develop to the point where the “whole” is greater than the sum of its parts – well in theory at least.
Where things go wrong is when one partner perceives a deviation from the equilibrium. This is also where the dynamics get complex. As individuals, we all have our own view of what is tolerable and what isn’t: our filters. Then there is the individual temper or the fuse; some people have a short fuse with frequent eruptions, others have long fuses that don’t erupt often but produce much larger eruptions when they do. As people we are all just different, and it is our ego that guides us when we judge and react to our partners’ actions or words. It is also our ego that gives the elasticity to the equilibrium point. Some people would call this the “give and take” of a good functioning relationship. Are we willing to accept certain things, tolerate others, ignore the little things because we are focused on the whole? The problem with ignoring the small things is that sometimes they are like a tiny stone in your shoe; the moment you feel something you can decide to ignore it or take the time to remove it. Even if you decide to ignore it at first – the stone might not be painful, just annoying – sooner or later you will sit down, take off your shoe and try to remove the irritating object. It all comes down to tolerance, and it is your ego and personality that set these tolerances.
But just like an elastic band, our ego will lose its elasticity if it is always stretched. Through constant over-stretching, it loses its ability to contract back to its original form and becomes damaged. The good news is that by becoming more aware of your situation you can protect the elasticity of your ego. By clearing up perceptions and by removing the tiny stones in your shoe immediately, you won’t have to test the elasticity of your ego.
Francis Lambert – Zabok, 30th November 2013