lately, nvc participants have been asking about ego – ya, but aren’t we just giving the ego some gratification when we talk about our/someone else’s feelings and needs…? what do we do when we can see that it’s an ego need, and maybe not what the person really needs…?
HUH?! the first few times i felt surprised, struck and even jolted by the “absurdity” of the question (in the context of my inner/outer world). what?! ego?! where the f… are we coming from?! just another spiritual label and judgement. my jackals: gosh, instead of coming to more freedom, we read s*%t like Mother and Sri Aurobindo (and thousands of others) and then we think that we have to abolish ego and that every action that we can’t make sense of is ego, that everything we don’t like in ourselves and others is ego… ego ego ego…
i wondered where this concept came from… it just seemed SO odd to me. it just didn’t fit into my paradigm of reality, based on what NVC (and more lately IFS) offers me. i guess ego is something we’re labeling, but i don’t think that ‘something’ is always the same thing… i guess i might have parts (maybe exiled ones or firefighters) who might sometimes behave in ways that other parts of mine don’t appreciate. they get triggered (scared?) and start to judge the other one, maybe sometimes labeling it as ego. but then i’d just say that the part who ‘acted out’ was (obviously!) trying to meet a need, but that very likely the strategy was not 100% flaw-proof and so maybe some other needs weren’t met at the same time. so then come the judgements, “you’re so selfish, egoistic; all you think about is yourself; you just wanted the other to lose, etc…”
the reason this is all so alive right now is because i had an interesting moment this morning, and i suddenly thought, “oh, is that what they mean by ego?!” i was out running and was about to pass an old amma picking up goat leaves. i’ve seen her before, alone, but this time she had 3 young boys with her. one boy looked back, saw me approaching and then started (in my judgement) mocking me, pretending to be running alongside his friends. i noticed some mild irritation arise in me – mild because i’ve seen such behaviour before and so therefore it’s always a bit expected; irritation because a part of me is so bored with being seen/treated as a weird outsider… anyway, when i passed the boy, i tapped him lightly on the head (his height was perfect – his head came up to my chest) and said, “dhai ‘monkey,’ yen ande merri wodaran…?” meaning, “hey monkey, how come you’re running that way…?” i passed them and they giggled after me.
i noticed a small part of me that had an impulse to turn around – and do what, i don’t know… but something that – exactly – ego! something that was so-called hurt or ‘dishonoured’ and needed to protect itself, needed to stand up for itself, needed to win ‘the fight,’ couldn’t let those stupid kids win. wow… l’aura… look at yourself… making a big deal, getting all wound up… you know you couldn’t win anyway… we always have our freedom… no matter how scary you might appear, those kids could still laugh at you once you’re gone… haha…! pathetic! now, this all happened so quickly and with so much lightness that i’m actually celebrating! i’m celebrating my chilled-out-ness and celebrating my observer-mode, and celebrating the learning and clarity at the same time (i guess learning and clarity are harder to come by when i’m caught up in pain…)!
then i thought, huh, okay… how would it not be ego – without judging and suppressing my own reactions…? how could i still have that reaction, that feeling of being made fun of (and therefore excluded, not respected), that longing to be seen and accepted for who i am…? of course, i just have to have an authentic dialogue – hey kid, when you do that, i get the sense you’re making fun of me. you know, i’ve lived here my whole life and i’d like to feel like one family with you… but i guess it’s weird, huh, seeing these westerners running around for no reason…? like we take ourselves so seriously…? and i guess you were just playing with me, that you didn’t really mean anything to hurt me…? is that it…?
this way, my so-called ego (or i’d prefer: wounded part) gets to be heard and received, and my other part (the one that could have been judging that part for being ego in the first place) also gets to have its values lived out – care, curiosity, openness for and trust in that little village kid and his intentions… awesome!
so, you see, no need for EGO labels… it’s all just parts being activated at different times, and feelings and needs… yay!