Quiet Your Ego
Take a moment for some self-compassion
We just came back from South Carolina, our first camping trip of the 2021 season in our new tent-on-a-trailer called a Kamparoo. Paris Mountain State Park is just north of Greenville, South Carolina. The weather was glorious. There was no rain. The temperatures were in the low 80s during the day and in the 50s at night. There was just one problem.
On the first night, as I walked back from the restrooms, I stepped off the path, fell hard on my back and slid down a slope covered in slippery pine needles. I hit the ground so hard that Mary said she could hear the "thwump" as I landed. As I lay there, I completed a system check; back still functioning, legs still moving, head still attached. All seemed well as Mary helped me to my feet and lectured me lovingly about looking where I was going. There was only a minor ache in my foot. Unfortunately, the pain grew over the next few days, so most of my time at camp I spent limping around.
Later in the week, we had planned a 4-mile hike. Mary suggested I take it easy after several days of playing nurse to my sad limping self. But I was not missing out on a big hike with our friends.
Maybe I should have listened to her because my foot throbbed after that hike. Oh! Did I mention that while chopping wood, a piece flew out and hit me on the shin? I only knew there was a problem when I looked down and discovered a sock soaked in blood. Luckily, the leg it hit was attached to the same foot that I hurt previously, so I didn’t have to change my limping pattern.
I had to quieten my ego as Mary tended to my sore foot and bleeding leg and gave me a lecture on camp safety and "being more careful." I had to forgive myself for my foolishness in rushing around and careless about what I was doing.
These days, taking time to quieten our egos seems important. There’s a lot of egos around.
What would happen if we all agreed to slow down for a moment to become more open and less defensive?
It all boils down to a lot less ego and a lot more gratitude and appreciation. Two of the best ways to quieten the ego are through the practice of self-compassion and mindfulness.
Practice Self-compassion. Treat yourself with the same kindness that you might give to a dear friend or loved one who feels guilt, shame, or anger.
Practice Mindfulness. Taking moments frequently throughout the day to stop and look and realize where you are, to do nothing for a moment.
I'm going to practice what I've learned while camping right here at home.
Find moments to appreciate nature and the people around me.
Obsess less with the latest media headline.
Take more time and consideration to look around me.
And maybe start listening more carefully to my wife's helpful, instructive comments
At camp, we live in a tiny village, exposed to the other campers, wildlife, nature, and the weather. You quickly realize that openness, friendliness, helpfulness, and appreciation create a greater sense of safety and well-being than fear, judgment, and self-defense.
No wonder we always come back feeling relaxed.