One of my favorite books about self-awareness and awakening is “A New Earth” written by Eckhart Tolle. In this book he goes into great detail about how and why we behave the way we do. The one word that sums up why is ego.
According to the dictionary ego is defined as a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. The part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity. Our ego is formed by our past experiences, our culture, our family and our background.
Complaining and resentment help fuel the ego. Every time you complain about something or someone you strengthen your need to be right and further define your importance in the world around you. That does not mean there are not times when you need to bring someone’s negative behavior or a negative situation to light. An example would be sending cold soup back and simply stating the soup was cold and you would like it heated. But, if you made a scene and made derogatory statements to the waiter, this would be complaining. You would be feeding your ego and placing your status above the person you are addressing. By complaining about a fellow co-worker behind their back instead of addressing a specific performance issue with the worker or their superior, you are coming from a place of ego. I have done this myself. I think everyone has done this from time to time. In the end were you searching to be right or happy.
I think resentment drains more positive energy than complaining. Resenting another human being only causes unhappiness to you. This emotion does not affect the other person’s life. Resentment is nothing more than keeping a past event alive instead of putting it in the past where it belongs. Do you do that? Do you have a family member or old friend that brings up the same event or story over and over again? Have you done it yourself? Recently, I contacted my late husband’s sister to send her something I thought she might like to have of her brother’s. She and her brother had been estranged for approximately 15 years prior to his death. She found out about his death via the internet (I was not able to locate her when he passed as she had moved). When I followed up with an email after the package arrived and welcomed her to contact me if she wished, I was met with an emotionally charged and hateful reply. She indicated I was the reason for her estrangement from her brother. My initial reaction, after the shock of the verbal attack, was to react and defend myself. However, after I thought about it, I realized I had no need to defend myself and I just let her know we obviously remember the past differently and was sorry she felt that way but I respected her feelings. Maybe her resentment towards me was the only way she could deal with the death of her brother. I let it go. I did not feel the need to be right. By not reacting to her resentment I was able to defuse it in my life. It cannot continue without reaction.
After reading Eckhart Tolle’s book I realized I was robbing myself of happiness by feeding my ego to be right. As I have gotten older I have learned to choose my battles wisely. I don’t hold onto resentment of things that have happened in the past, I have left them in the past. When I look back I realize I could have handled certain situations better, but I needed to continue my journey to discover a different way of being. Like you I am still a work in progress. Each day I strive for less ego and try to discover the more spiritual side of myself. For there is where I believe you find peace, contentment, joy and happiness.
So the next time you gossip, complain or hold negative feelings towards someone, question whether you want to be right or happy. Ego = I. I much prefer ‘we.’