This subject has been swirling in my mind for some time as I’ve endeavored to guide clients through painful onslaughts of rejections. The current trend seems to be that without explanation, singles dump their supposedly best friends for someone brand new, or just quit communicating, period. One person was told, “There’s nothing wrong with you, I’m just tired of our friendship.” Having been dumped, my client asked “Why does this hurt so much?” Mentioning an injured ego made no sense to him.
When Ego takes a blow from an unkind statement or rejection, the Quick-and-Gone-Anger is first on the scene with notification that something is terribly wrong. While evaluating the damage and considering the best way to deal with the confusion and hurt, Revenge-Anger whips around and clamors “Let me fix it.”. However, ER-Wisdom (Emergency Room) steps up and quietly cautions,” As much as you’d enjoy getting back at that person, putting Revenge-Emotion in the driver’s seat will create more problems. A better approach is acknowledging that what a person says or does, reveals more about them than you.
Several have tearfully shared stories of being critically raked over the coals by family and friends regarding incidental things said or done or not said or done that they couldn’t even remember. These victims have a feeling of loss and need to understand what part Ego, Anger and Wisdom play in resolving relationship problems. Victims need to have their sense of value restored. One of the things that comfort some who have experienced severe criticism, is understanding the possibility that the ‘unloader’ may have underlying personal problems blocking his/her normal filters. Before responding to the offender, seeking out a parent, friend, pastor or therapist to listen to your story will have a calming and cooling effect. ER-Wisdom is always on hand, ready and willing to quietly and effectively reveal the best way to deal with the situation and the person who has caused your anguish.
When rejection and critical words involve the bruising of one’s ego some older clients were unsure what that meant, which gave me more reason to discuss the connection of Ego, Anger and Wisdom. in my informal mixed-ages poll of, “What is the meaning of Ego?” the answers ranged from “I have no idea, show-offy”, egotistical and arrogant” to “I avoid Ego,” “I have no Ego” and finally, an accurate definition, “Ego is me, what I think and believe.” Ego doesn’t need to be capitalized, nor Anger or Wisdom, but because the words are central to the subject, I am capitalizing them.
EGO: Dictionary: that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the “self” or “… A person's sense of self-esteem or self-importance. Google Resource: The “I” or “self” of any person; their thinking, feeling, and action, distinguishing itself from the selves of others. Familiar words like egotism; conceit; self-importance: “Her ego becomes more unbearable each day,” “Your criticism wounded his ego.”
Another related definition of the Ego has to do with being self-centered or egotistical. We get the term “narcissism” from the Greek myth of Narcissus who fell in love with his own reflection. Narcissists have exaggerated or puffed-up egos who are takers, not givers. Understanding the Ego can help people avoid conflicts that arise from Ego dynamics. Therefore, if we’re alive, we have an Ego. Ego is merely factual. Ego is who we are. The Ego operates based on the reality principle, for example, if a person cuts you off in traffic, the Ego prevents you from chasing down the car and physically attacking the offending driver. Though a big Ego is usually considered to be a negative trait, in fact, the bigger the Ego, the better. Big Ego doesn't mean you're stuck-up or conceited; rather it means you are able to access within yourself the truth in any given situation. I especially appreciate this last sentence.
Since relationship-tangles involve Ego and Anger, seeking Wisdom which gives understanding is a long-standing guideline in calming and inspiring seekers toward long lasting reconciliation. Reading stories about wise people reveals that they listen, read, memorize and practice what has helped others. Problem- solvers learn all they can from listening and reading the Bible and consulting other spiritual guides.
Most people are acquainted with the Anger Emotion but perhaps unfamiliar with its various forms: Quick and Gone, Brooding, Revenge and Uncontrolled. Learning that the first form of Anger—Quick and Gone-- is actually our friend to be used sparingly in drawing attention to a problem that exists. The other anger forms promise nothing but trouble and sorrow.
WISDOM: Dictionary: the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.” Listen to his words of wisdom”, intelligence, understanding, insight, perception, perceptiveness, discernment, good sense, common sense judgment, foresight, clear-sightedness.
Intentionally relying on Wisdom’s knowledge and understanding beyond our own reasoning requires self-discipline. The best is found in the Scriptures. Counselors and therapists will suggest behavior guides and goals that far outweigh anything that we could imagine as the following true story describes.
For 23 years I was stuck in this narcissistic cycle with my husband. One of the greatest gifts I've given myself (and my girls) was removing myself from that cycle. Here's how it went:
Phase 1: narcissistic ego was injured/threatened based on a situation/statement. Something as simple as "Why did you forget my birthday?". By the way - who forgets their wife's birthday?
Phase 2: narcissistic rage would erupt/explode. Screaming, storming out of the house.
Phase 3: the flip - all of a sudden, he was the victim and I found myself apologizing for something I had no reason to apologize for.
Phase 4: gas lighting (it's a thing and it's very real) - he would try and convince me the situation never occurred - I had imagined it/I was hallucinating - tried to make me think I was crazy. Then we would have to pretend like none of the above ever happened and we went about our day. And then - it would happen all over again and again for 23 years.
I certainly believe there is a strong relationship between ego and anger - I lived it - for decades and it can destroy a relationship. On a side note, a favorite quote by David Augsburger, a minister and author, "Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable".
As a result of this horrible experience, I’ve disciplined myself to pay attention to my emotional intelligence. When upset by something said, shifting into neutral and saying, “isn’t that interesting”, works. Taking more time to reflect and be more intentional about my relationships and decisions keeps me grounded along with scriptures like Psalm 46:5 always on the top of my mind, “God is within her, she will not fall”.
Jesus said: “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest… Matt. 11:28-30. Heavy laden depicts carrying a heavy load of anxiety, etc. Dependable Wisdom, ready with Understanding and Appreciation in tow, meting out ways in which to equip and restore injured egos:
· The first healing realism: Taking a step back and giving adequate time to think about how to regard and positively resolve the problem of injured feelings.
· We have no control regarding what is going to be said or done that makes us sad and injures our Egos, but we do have control on what we will do with it.
· Read the scriptures which offer wisdom, understanding and appreciation and acknowledging that as long as we live, there will be hurts and slights to deal with.
· Pray for guidance, wisdom, understanding, appreciation of others and patience.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Ps. 111:10 (NIV).
Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Prov. 13:10 (NIV)
But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit…James 3:17 (NIV).
The Apostle Paul, who had a strong ego struggled with developing the same Ego as Christ when he said:
In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry. Eph. 4: 26-27 (NIV.