During my recent trip to Las Vegas, where I worked at the World Series of Poker (WSOP), my gambling habit relapsed. These days I am much more aware when I relapse. I catch the signs earlier, am ready and prepared to contemplate and investigate my actions and determined to make positive changes to reduce the likelihood of it happening again. I am also quick to forgive myself and move on. Sometimes I may even find something new in my internal investigations and Vegas was a classic case in point.
I doubt that this is a 100% male problem, but in my own personal experiences of relationships it seems to be the case in my life. So if you are male I want you to pay particular attention to what I am about to say next, as it could save your relationships from falling apart.
Most of us are controlled by our ego. Some of us are embroiled in a war that consists of daily battles. Then there are others who aren’t even aware that they are controlled by their ego; some don’t even know they have one.
Our ego likes to be right and it likes to be a cut above the rest. It is at the centre of all of your relationship issues; it is the destroyer of marriages and friendships. Let me give you two very recent examples of how my ego works.
Whilst pre-booking my seats for my holiday to Tenerife I booked an aisle and window seat for my son and I. I believed that nobody would choose to sit in between us and therefore would have the row to ourselves.
At check-in the airline employee told me that the flight was full and drew attention to the space between my son and I. I asked her to move us both to the aisle and centre because I had family in the adjacent row and didn’t feel it was polite to talk over a stranger. The employee told me that she couldn’t leave an empty seat by the window. I asked her why and my ego did not like her response because there was no logic behind it.
This employee doesn’t make the rules and I am not going to change them, but this did not stop my ego from making my point for the next 15-minutes.
I am very fortunate that my writing takes me all around the world. I meet the most amazing people, very successful and sometimes famous people. When I have conversations with people I always talk about my stories, my travels and the wonderful people I meet. This is my ego trying to show that my life is superior. My ego is trying to keep me elevated above those I am talking too.
During my gambling relapse I had a light bulb moment. I started to pick on my girlfriend and the way that I did it was very particular. I focused on a habit she has that I believe is not a good trait. It’s personal to her and so I will not share it here and don’t need to in order to prove my point.
Over a period of a few days I consistently prodded and poked her about this habit. I not only consciously made remarks, but also believe I sub-consciously added to her pain and sorrow. I believe I was trying to transfer my own inadequacies into the heart of one of the closest people in my life. Somehow my ego believed it would save me pain if I transferred it to someone else. Maybe if I could try and help my partner to change their habit I could remove the focus from my own.
My behaviour not only saddened my partner, but it also drove her to increase her activity in the habit I believe to be destructive. I was 100% responsible for driving her to partake in the very actions I abhorred. I was becoming her risk, and I coach people to remove risk from their lives. I do not want to be removed from my partner’s life.
In stark contrast, when I told my partner that I had suffered a gambling relapse (something that affects her as much as I), she laid on the bed next to me, stroked my hair continually, smiled throughout, told me she loved me, said she forgave me and asked what WE were going to do next?
Now that’s what I call freedom of judgment and controlling the ego. I realised in that moment that I have been the direct cause of so many of the bad habits that those closest to me have relied on in order to get through a life with me. If it can happen to me, then it can happen to you.
Awareness of the problem is the first step. Not only am I aware of my ability to transfer my issues to other people, but also so is my partner. This allows us to both capture these things before they get out of hand. We can discuss the issues and work out a way of handling things differently. Over time, this way of behaving will become stronger than the transference and I would have also created a better habit and become a more loving man.
I want to thank my partner and all the other amazing women on this planet who have to put up with the ego of man for so long. I don’t think most of them even know what they are doing…I really don’t. So have patience and if you can, point them in my direction and maybe I can help them understand.
Does this article resonate with you? Do you have a story tell where you have inflicted pain on another and want to put an end to it?
Photo courtesy of Juan Pablo Colasso cc @ flickr.com