On reading my title you might immediately think it a little contradictory. It is in fact, another one of those beautiful paradoxes, I so much enjoy spotting.
Let’s take listening as my example
If you’ve ever studied anything relating to stimulus or sensory modalities, you’ll know all about our tendency, to be biased toward one of our senses. Put simply, if you’re prime modality is auditory, you’ll think and process thoughts in terms of how things sound. If it’s visual, you’ll tend to think primarily in terms of how things look. Kinesthetic and you’ll think very much in terms of how things feel or taste.
As a listener, I’m acutely aware, of how people can either use hearing as a tool for empowerment, or the abuse, of their fellow man. I’m also aware, of how deep listening, is something many people struggle with, if they have either a fragile ego, or one that’s overblown.
Taming our ego, involves lifting it or awarding it proportion, and balanced perspective
At a deep level, arrogance is fear, even so, it can also be the result of an overblown ego. When this is the case, listening to the opinion of others, can be challenging. If our ego is overblown we remain stunted and unable to accept new, revised information, that’s often easily handed to us. The overblown ego thinks it knows it all.
The alternative, of a fragile ego, creates difficulty in deep listening because of its need to protect itself. We may not want to hear what someone has to say, because the ego hears it as a threat, to what we currently understand. Feelings of inadequacy may cause us to refuse to listen to anything. We fear it might add to our uncertainty. For the male therapist dealing with issues of negative transference, your female, auditory client, might not have been listening to a word you’ve said.
Failing to listen is common to those with a fragile ego who wish to project their feelings of inadequacy on to others
We only need consider the long term effect of not being listened to. It’s manipulative effect, can be very damaging through being demeaning, especially to someone who thinks primarily through the use of sound. When the deep listener is ignored, or constantly asked to repeat themselves, it can be extremely disempowering. Make such an individual aware of the game being played though, and it quickly changes, the situation.
Nowadays, when someone – who I understand to have perfect hearing – constantly asks me to repeat myself, I simply stay silent. It could of course be the case, that this is the long term intention of this tiresome game, so rather than continue to play it long term, I simply give them what they want immediately; my silence. Game over.
When we listen deeply we empower others, and in turn, ourselves
After all, people do often have some very interesting things to say. If our ego is fragile and defensive, or overblown and dismissive, we will be denying ourselves the opportunity to learn from others, and empower them, in the process.
In conclusion, taming the ego involves finding balance. The first step is to raise our awareness of how we might be damaging and limiting ourselves/others with our ego. We do this by paying close attention to how people interact with us. Are they really listening? Do you feel ignored? If so, allow yourself to be more attentive to what they say and do; notice any changes.