Sometimes I read or hear a piece of information or even “wisdom” and it just sticks. It makes sense and it’s the right thing I need to hear at the right time.
A year or two ago I read an idea that hit home. Maybe it’s relatively common knowledge at least among “evolved” types, but here it is. When someone does something we consider against us, wrongs us in some way, and we then say to ourselves or others negative things about that person – that we didn’t previously believe or say – it is an attempt to “right” our ego, to bring our self-esteem back up after it’s taken a hit.
Sure, I know it’s common if somebody hurts us to want to hurt them back, if only by talking smack about them, to ourselves or others. For an example: Bob says you’re stupid to have bought that car. You say or think, “Oh yeah, well Bob is the stupid one! He doesn’t know anything about cars. Have you seen that junker he bought?!” And thus harmony is restored in our little ego universe – which is not a way I would have thought about this in the past. I would have felt justified in being critical.
I see it now though. When someone has hurt me, in my mind usually my first response is to have negative feelings about the person; I lose my objectivity. People do this all the time I know. But there are times now I can pull myself up short and say “You’re just trying to salvage your ego. Are the things you’re now thinking about this other person really true? Were they true yesterday? Will they be true next week? Or is this a momentary knee-jerk attempt to repair your ego?” And it works! That’s my surprise. I can stop myself and separate out my bruised ego from what I really believe/know to be true, whether it’s about the other person or about me.
The fact is our egos DO take hits and maybe we just have to feel hurt awhile and not automatically man our internal battle ships. Because this way of “righting” egos is false; thinking bad sh*t about somebody else doesn’t really affect how we see ourselves. It’s a cheap bandage.