05

Hold Back Self-Centredness

In a way, the last couple of verses were like a confrontation. Look at this: 3Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. 4Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.

Our whole being objects to this, because our nature is to cover for ourselves first. Instinctively. Self-defense kicks in immediately when you’re threatened. Therefore, when you disagree with someone, you think of yourself and only yourself first.

What a terrible experience my wife and I had in a shop in a town close to here! You know it is very difficult for me to imagine what one tile would look like covering a whole floor. So we went from shop to shop. Eventually, we got the feeling that we had the right tile, but we still had a few questions.

We couldn’t find someone to help us, because as soon as we reached the desk, we became aware of a small war starting between the boss and his assistant. Something had gone wrong with an order or something and the one was blaming the other.

So we turned around, pretending to look at some more tiles. But they didn’t even see us when we returned and so we had to turn around again, back to the shelves. Fortunately, after the dust had settled, we were able to help the assistant who clearly needed sugar water. We then left quickly.

Looking back at the argument between the boss and his assistant, we realized that each of them only saw his own side of the problem (unfortunately, in view of all the clients). Neither could see or try to understand the other person’s point of view. If only they had kept their emotions in check and listened to what the other person had to say, there would not have been that much noise. Unfortunately each one only thought of himself.

Shortly after this I was talking to a young couple during a premarital session. The first two topics that we discussed were communication and conflict. Suddenly it hit me. Conflict was communication and uncontrolled emotions. Communication is essential and probably the most important element of a healthy relationship. The ego messes everything up by throwing emotions into the mix. And that is when the problems start.

How many relationships could still have been going strong if not for the self taking centre stage?

Well, it’s really not worth it. Just once try and see the other person’s point of view. See if you can’t meet him or her on their side. It will be no skin off your nose to try just once to understand why the other person is doing things in a certain way.

And then to find the difficult one: At times the best solution is to be the least. You know who you are. You don’t have to win every argument. Stand back and let the other one win. Remember, next time you may be in that position. They do say every dog has its day!

The world will definitely look completely different if we make more space for one another, better understand one another’s background and nature, and push oneself towards the back and be the least.

Reflection

How strongly does your own self come to the fore?

Where do you have to stand back?

Is it easy to be the least?

Father, I realize once again that there are so many places in me that still need a lot of work. One of which is definitely my ego. Please help me to sometimes hold back on that own self and to try to understand others. Please help me to be the least. Amen