Fred Boyles Columnist
My ego has a great purpose of keeping me alive and to that end it always wants to be right and not change. So where is the freedom from this?
My ego has me say and do things that anger and hurt other people’s egos, I engage their egos and then they want to get even with me, so round and round we go. Ego engaging ego. Again… freedom?
At my last team meeting, I was depressed and angry about breaking my word to myself regarding a business project. I needed help from my team to discover the wound I caused myself.
On my men’s team we have several rituals, but one most used is the “check in.” Designed to have your team listen to you as you share what is presently going on with you, it’s a great ritual that allows you to discover where you stand.
So something happened as I was the first guy in the circle to answer the check-in question.
“Are you a chief or an Indian, a thinker or doer?”
I had come depressed and angry but did not know why. The question was confusing and did not allow for me to explore how I was doing. Consequently I judged the man and the check-in question as incompetent, and my ego took over. The more I argued and was un-coachable, the more I engaged other men’s egos.
The more they worked to prove me wrong, the more right I thought I was. And the more right I was, the more men reacted to my righteous anger.
I noticed how each man abandoned reality of what was said at the beginning of the check in and started interpreting and even changing what was said, in order to prove me wrong. It was insane, and I started the whole mess.
Now, let’s jump ahead to the end of the meeting. There was a man who did not attack me and seemed down. Some inner voice had me ask him what was going on. He shared what his ego was saying to him, “Your so fat, it’s hopeless. You’re going to die young anyway, all your brothers and sister have.” I felt sad and realized that I had taken his time by resisting the check-in and by telling the men how I WAS feeling.
I was keeping the illusion alive that I am safe from other men hurting me when I act as a dangerous, angry man. All I did was create other dangerous men whose egos would not allow them to share their hurt.
Here’s the answer for me. So what if the check-in question did not support me expressing my depression and anger? I could have said, “I am depressed and angry and I don’t know why.” That was reality. Everything else was my ego wanting to be right and keep me the same.
A team can be a place to express your anger, but it’s not healthy when directed at your team for not being a perfect team. That’s just our ego being right and making sure we will not change.
The biggest lesson is that we will not make it a safe place for other men who need to discover they are angry, and discover they’re hurt unless we feel the love for our team. This will help us heal ourselves. And once we find this, there will be the desire to pay it forward to the next man with whom you circle up.