A well-known relationship expert remarks that the ego has no relationship skills! The ego tries to manipulate people by adopting various negative techniques like aggression, resistance, withdrawal and intolerance. Our hearts, on the other hand, rely on intuitive techniques like understanding, forgiveness, patience and trust, to nourish our relationships and take them forward. When our understanding hearts win the battle over the ego, relationships flourish; when ego takes over, relationships lose out.
How does ego manifest itself in ruining relationships? The signs are there for us to see:
1. We expect too much from others, and are not prepared to give as much as we take.
2. We cultivate a sense of entitlement; we imagine that the others are there to do what we need and make life easy for us.
3. We lap up praise and appreciation, but we are not prepared to appreciate others.
4. We become critical, even judgmental to the point of severity and harshness. We set impossibly high standards for others, which do not apply to us.
5. We cease to cultivate that wonderful 'attitude of gratitude' that makes lives meaningful.
6. We forget what it is to forgive with an understanding heart.
7. We live under the illusion that we don't have to apologise under any circumstances.
There are other extremes to which low self-esteem or a negative ego can take us: we may become passive or withdraw altogether and we can become depressed and frustrated.
How can we stop our ego from 'messing around' with relationships that matter to us?
1. Always look for the merits in others: do not focus on their demerits.
2. Develop a healthy sense of humour, especially the wonderful ability to laugh at yourself.
3. Life is too short to be small. Let us not be small-minded.
4. When I find fault with others, I regard myself as superior - better than the others. This is pride, this is egoism. This must be overcome if we are to be truly happy.
5. Take the lead in appreciating others! Do not be calculative in giving and receiving praise.
The secret of successful relationships is to be found in an understanding heart-preferably, your own!
(Dada J.P. Vaswani is humanitarian, philosopher, educator, acclaimed writer, powerful orator, messiah of ahimsa, and non-sectarian spiritual leader.)
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