I was doing the early morning work journey on the tube when I found myself breaking up a physical fight to stop two grown men from physically mauling each other.
We were in the midst of the usual London commuter-crush. There were no seats, so I was forced to stand. I noted the first man aka Fit-Early-Thirties-Intense-Looking-Arabic-Man enter the carriage a stop or so after me and slide himself into the corner by the end of the tube door while he stood and read his book. The other man aka Puny-Grey-Curly-Hair-Middle-Class-
The problem presented itself and intensified as more and more people joined the carriage – tube-crush reared its ugly head. This levered Fit-Early-Thirties-Intense-Looking-Arabic-man further along the carriage.
I could see it happening in slow motion. Fit-Early-Thirties-Intense-Looking-Arabic-Man veered into the personal space of Puny-Grey-Curly-Hair-Middle-Class-
I looked at Puny-Grey-Curly-Hair-Middle-Class-
Everyone on the carriage stopped breathing. 30 seconds barely passed the threat being issued when the offensive connection of trouser-leg to shoulder sparked the explosion – Puny-Grey-Curly-Hair-Middle-Class-
Thankfully, Fit-Early-Thirties-Intense-Looking-Arabic-Man was leaving at the same stop as me so I could move on knowing there would be no more fracas – he gave me a nod of thanks and respect and left.
It set me thinking ever since – I’ve experienced many occasions where people would justify occasions when it is ok to be aggressive or violent. It also hit me that, as I’ve grown into a man, the things that bothered me when I was 16-20 were completely different to what bothered my in my 20s – this changed significantly in my 30s and now my 40s. I grew up in Tottenham, where looking at someone in the wrong way could spark a full-scale all-generation war, let alone the detonation caused putting your hands on someone. Yet in my 40s, I look past things that, many years ago, I would have called in the Calvary for.
It’s called growing up.
I know a lot of people – in person and through the social networks, who’s sense of humour proclaims giving someone a “beat-down” to resolve every day life-clashes – heck I’m partial to it to accentuate a joke. People often throw these threats as warning to all in their environment what their boundaries and trigger-points are. I seriously have to ask the question though – really:
Are the things that make you “loose it” nowadays different to 10, 20 or 30 years ago? What justification do you currently use to “go-in” on someone?
I learned a lot about ego, both through my psychoanalytical studies and practical work as a learning & development consultant, and as a practising Nicherin Buddhist. Few adults work on their ego as a concept that requires continual review and development. I got to understand the difference between how our mental values (cultured and self-nurtured) give us a clear picture of what our social and physical environment “should” contain. The mental conflict between, “should” and “is” produces an ego-state, triggering emotions and acting as an accelerant to choose a set of actions, ranging from:
a) Managing the difference between the two ego-states and acting smartly and assertively, to defuse the potency of the other person’s actions
b) Carrying out an action to show the other person that their behaviour is unacceptable
My learning has taught me to question whenever I am mindful to lash out verbally, behaviourally or physically, to pour ego-dye on the situation – first of all understanding the ego of the other person, and secondly to understand the part my ego plays in the situation.
If both egos are at extreme ends, the higher potential for a clash. However even if the other person is at the boiling point, I can cut the ego element out of my own thoughts, feelings or behaviour, diffusing the situation and manage a potentially volatile situation. In my case, I get through ego-driven situations with a huge amount of emotional-intelligence demonstrated through wisdom and skill, garnished with lashings of personality. I’ve been at it a while and the more I try, the better I get at it.
Am I saying that sometimes we have to suck it up and try to see the situation from the other’s point of view? Yes. Am I saying that we should be door-matts? No. All I’m saying is, if we try to double-think a situation and try not to inhabit the destructive space of:
- Instinctive verbal come-backs
- Last-word arguments
- Adopting principled-stances, regardless of check-mate
- Adopting stand-offs in relationships
- Flying off the handle
- Berating someone verbal in an effort to change the way they think or their behaviour
If you could someone times just think: how am I going to turn this situation around, considering where the other person is at right now?’ It would give you the opportunity to get on or stay on the same page – it will produce much more “in-tune” circumstances. Basically it stops you walking around as though life is all about you – you work on how much you can understand the world of other people (and get along / get through!!!).
So – what are the things you boast about to your friends and say: “I’d loose it for that…”?
Now look at them again. Really look. At your ego. And how it exacerbates the issue and your behaviour. If you choose not to “loose it”, what would really happen? Would that be so bad?
Work on striping the ego out of your every-day situations wherever possible. It would be hard at first – may take years even – but the benefits are immeasurable. After all, you’re grown – are you really growing through?
SpiritedStrength = daily life driven by: • heart • realness • liberation • purpose • learning • happiness