The ego is the sum total of all your smallest ideas about yourself - Robert Holden
As challenges come along in life I notice we are often rush out to meet them in our weakest and most frightened states. Perhaps we've gotten so used to being harried, tired and behind the eight ball that we don't even notice we've rallied up our most inadequate capacities and gone straight out to try to resolve our most important issues.
I have been thinking about the resiliency of the Human Spirit and as I reflected on the nature of all of our "spirit" a rather dis-spiriting idea occurred to me. How many times have I had an important decision, a delicate conversation or a really tough life challenge, and allowed myself to try to resolve it using my poorest mindset? The answer was, unfortunately, many times!
Examples of what I mean:
- agreeing to have "the talk" about your relationship when you are tired or have been drinking
- standing up to confront a co-worker about a bad habit while thinking "that was the last straw!"
- correcting or disciplining children in the heat of anger
- talking to the boss after you've already missed the deadline and haven't slept well
What I'd emphasize in each of these examples is not the situations or the physical states, but rather the mental states.
It is common to all of us to lose our way, lose our temper and address issues when we know that our our mental capacities are on low ebb. Everyone can get stretched and find themselves with less of their normal abilities in any given moment.
Of course it would be great to say that we could recognize this is the case in advance and then be sensible enough not to "go for it." But the very real problem with this is that it is precisely in your poorest mental state that you are least likely to listen to your very good sense.
So is there any good end to this cycle?
As it turns out, there is ...
I'm sure there's an answer to this question, but when did all this madness begin? Not the madness of the economy, or the madness of the markets ... but the madness of not thinking for ourselves anymore? The madness of thinking that what we think has no impact.
I've blogged on a similar topic before, about the things that come out of our mouths when they are left unattended. Shocking. The automatic unkindnesses, the unthinking gossip - as if we just tossed out one more teeny tiny toxic and non-biodegradable plastic bottle onto a very, very large ocean of humanity. Like it doesn't matter because it's just the one. After all, how will the girl walking by EVER know you made fun of her hair, or compared her ass unfavorably....
I am not sure we can dissassociate what we are saying from the impact it has on the speaker. Yes, the words leave the lips, but the feelings linger and the only one experiencing the effects is us. Ever feel bad after cutting someone down or saying the mean thing just to be clever?
And that is just what we are willing to say other people! Our inner talk is far less sensored and just as, if not more, damaging. Our self- talk, or mirror talk... "I'm so fat" "I'm idiot" "I'm a pig" etc., etc.,
We are hard on ourselves. We are hard on other people. No one ever gets a break. No wonder we need motivational speakers to G-ourselves up with 'you can do it!' rhetoric. It is like some insane cartoon routine, I smack you on the head with the hammer and then take back the hammer so I can smack myself or make sure I'm standing in the way when you smack you.
There's no reason why we can't take a moment to question the things we say and the things we think before we release them like toxic gases. After all, we all know that poisoning the planet is the same thing as poisoning ourselves.
It doesn't seem that far of a stretch that maybe, just maybe, it's one emotional ecosystem too?
With all of us connected, what makes us think we'll escape the long terms effects of our own words after we are gone? The same little voice that tells us it doesn't matter if you toss that gum wrapper on the ground?
If you feel affected by this post, give someone the gift of seeing that you and they are the same and treat 'yourself' to some loving kindness. Do it for me.