Hump Day Crush: Full On Ego

Last week’s piece on Grand Romantic Gestures (GRGs) spurred some interesting discussion in some areas.

Pretty much all of it jumped right ahead to the point I was going to make this week.

Here’s the thing that most people come to realize about GRGs–they’re an absolutely horrible way to start a relationship, but not that bad of a thing to mark special events when already in a stable romantic relationship… as long as they are few and far between.

Why? Because Grand Romantic Gestures are excersises in ego that can bring out the absolute worst in the people performing them and those on the receiving end.

In typical real relationships, the egos of the people involved have to balance one another. (Yes, there are exceptions, but those mostly still fall into niche areas of sub-cultures within the greater whole.) By attempting to pull off a GRG, you have to make either yourself or your intended partner the center of attention. Either spotlight can glaring show deficiencies in the subject.

In other words: If you must peform a GRG, you better be damn sure the person youd doing it for can handle the unexpected attention. More importantly, you better be sure that you can handle it if the GRG fails spectacularly.

Like many people out there, I can be a damn arrogant bastard in some situations. I know what I’m good at and, when I think I know what I’m talking about, woe to he who gets in the way of my pratter and gesticulation. My ego is a big one and would regularly eclipse anything worthwhile that I try to do if I didn’t work hard to keep it in check.

How do I do this? Mostly by putting myself in situations where I know I’m not at my strongest. That way, I’m regularly reminded that there are people out there who are much better at some things than I am. Since I often choose wisely which of these other people I subject myself to, I’m also reminded that even those who really know what they’re doing can be nice about it (so I should be able to do that too, right?).

Just the other weekend, I put myself face to face with one of my major weaknesses: a moderately sized group of people where I’d know very few.

Believe it or not, I’m kind of shy when it comes to new groups of people. I like to take time, observe and puzzzle out the norms and patterns of interaction in the group. At a one-night-only event, there isn’t a whole lot of time for that and one has to just kind of hit the ground running. You have to work quickly to find your place in the group and there are undoubtedly going to be more than  afew awkward moments that just leave people staring blankly at you.

There I am, in a situation where my ego just wants to hide under a big rock. I look around me and see numerous people falling right in to the flow of things. They’re obviously people who  know more people there than I do. Then there are the other new to the group people–going through the same awkward stops and starts that I am. And they’re being accepted right quick by most of the “regulars”. That offers hope and fules more relaxed interaction on my part. That increased interaction gives me more opportunities to learn the ins and outs of the group. Before long, I was plenty comfortable with everything that was going on and felt I could hold my own no matter what.

Our egos are our own worst enemies. They can be big and loud and push others away or they can fuel our anxieties and make us hide ourselves away in situations where we know (or think) we’re not at our strongest.

When we attempt to pull off a Grand Romantic Gesture–especially if it’s one of the story-book-fueled ones to kick off a desired relationship–our ego has to be up, front and center, running full on into the situation.

We rarely run with full on ego, though. When we do, we aren’t really ourselves. We’re some over-blown, distored version of oursleves. Just as when we’re full of anxiety, we’re a very understated and stunted version of ourselves.

At either extreme, the impression we’re putting forth is, effectively, a lie. An act beyond (or below) what we normally are. Any relationship built upon that illusion will take a lot more work to maintain and may very well be built to fail as spectacularly as it was founded.

Grand Romantic Gestures only “work” when we’re not ourselves.

The things that do work aren’t quite as grand and are more than gestures–they are deeply expressive honest actions that usually only have deep meaning to you and the person you are doing them for.

Ego has no prominent place in those actions.

We are imprefect creatures, pulled in various directions by our own internal influences. If we give in too much to one tug or another, we drift far from who we actually are. It’s important that we remember we’re all in the same boat in that respect.

When presenting yourself, present yourself–not your ego. We’re all at our best when we’re not running our ego full on.

  • Autumn Szabo

    I was reading about this very topic today. I was given a book called “Difficult Conversations” written by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen, and Bruce Patton. Of course, we all know (I hope) how I feel about self-help books or books on self improvement. But, if you don’t, here it is: the advice in the book is only as good as what you learn and what you can apply. Of course, you are not going to pick it up right away. But, you may get some of the information into your head which will overall improve your perspective and the way you view and value others, and in turn, yourself. Their generic framework is:

    The “What happened” conversation
    The Feelings conversation
    The Identity conversation

    Some of us are more versed at some of these conversations than others. Some of us at excel at certain ones and struggle with others. Apparently, to become an effective person and communicator, you need to address all three.

    Ultimately though, it asks you to check your ego at the door and prepare yourself to UNDERSTAND. Fascinating stuff…….your advice is somewhat consistent with what I have read so far. Your observations are as well.

  • Autumn Szabo

    I was reading about this very topic today. I was given a book called “Difficult Conversations” written by Douglas Stone, Sheila Heen, and Bruce Patton. Of course, we all know (I hope) how I feel about self-help books or books on self improvement. But, if you don’t, here it is: the advice in the book is only as good as what you learn and what you can apply. Of course, you are not going to pick it up right away. But, you may get some of the information into your head which will overall improve your perspective and the way you view and value others, and in turn, yourself. Their generic framework is:

    The “What happened” conversation
    The Feelings conversation
    The Identity conversation

    Some of us are more versed at some of these conversations than others. Some of us at excel at certain ones and struggle with others. Apparently, to become an effective person and communicator, you need to address all three.

    Ultimately though, it asks you to check your ego at the door and prepare yourself to UNDERSTAND. Fascinating stuff…….your advice is somewhat consistent with what I have read so far. Your observations are as well.

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