Steering the RelationshipBy:
I like to describe the ego’s job as the protector. This “guy” is the part of us that stands on the bow of our relationship and frantically yells, “Ice berg!” when it sees trouble ahead. This is useful information, for sure. However, when the Ice Berg Guy is scared, he becomes erratic and impulsive and wants to grab the wheel. But he is not trained in navigation and not the guy you want haphazardly steering the ship.
That job should be left to Captain Spirit—the wise one who strategizes the best course of action in alignment with the ships circumstances, capabilities, and destination. The Captain is creative, calm, responsible, steadfast, and quite capable of leading the ship out of harms' way.
The problem is that the ego thinks it knows how to protect the ship best. After all, he is the one who saw the iceberg. The ego’s strategy is always to blame the iceberg for being in the way and to expect the iceberg to move. So, he typically will steer right toward it and angrily blames the iceberg when the collision happens. The Spirit on the other hand, accepts that the iceberg is where it is and realizes that the only thing that will save the ship is a course correction and takes responsibility to do so.
In addition, the ego typically waits until the iceberg looms large right in front of the ship to react. Consequently, requiring a monumental amount of change to steer the ship out of harms' way, limiting the ability to do so unscathed.
While the Captain’s course of action is to look ahead, plot a course, see potential icebergs in the distance and strategize with wisdom. Thus, with the slightest advance adjustment to the course, the Captain can avoid the problems entirely with little or no drama.
I invite you to consider which part of yourself you are allowing to run your relationships. Notice if you wait until your situation is desperate before you seek help or decide to change course. Notice if you blame others for being the way they are and expect them to change rather than altering your responses to them in order to bring about different results. Notice if you blame, control, yell, argue, are passive aggressive, withdrawn, revengeful, conniving, needy, desperate, jealous, possessive, distrusting, dishonest or judgmental. These are all the erratic behaviors of the ego in a misguided attempt to steer the ship. Then, notice how well that is (or is not) working for you.
Mindfulness and responsibility are what moves the locus of control from the Iceberg Guy to the Captain.
In order to lead your relationships to safer and smoother waters, begin to be mindful of these two distinct parts of your crew.
- Notice. Stop to remember what your destination is and which way you are actually heading. What do you truly want? What are you doing, saying, and thinking? Are those choices leading you toward the destination of a healthy, harmonious relationship? Are you expecting others to move or change in order for you to get where you want to go, or do you see that you are the one responsible for making changes?
- Take a deep breath and put your Spirit in charge. Your spirit is wise, intuitive, creative, responsible, compassionate, understanding, discerning and present. A mere intention, along with a deep breath, can switch the control from ego to spirit.
- Then choose your next thoughts, words, and actions in alignment with your destination.
Once I read a passage in a spiritual book that I loved. It said, “Hold fast to the pillar of God.” I meditated on that metaphor. Later that day, I was down at the harbor waiting for my boat captain husband to come in from his charter. I was leaning against a pole by the dock when I remembered the passage I had read. I reached up and grabbed onto the pillar I was leaning on as a symbolic gesture of holding onto the “pillar of God.” I then wondered, what the sign said at the top of the pillar I was clinging to and couldn’t help but to laugh out loud as I read, “Never Leave Your Vessel Unattended.” Indeed, sage advice for relationships.
Eve Eschner Hogan is a relationship specialist, and author of several books including The EROS Equation: A SOUL-ution for Relationships. In Real Love with Eve, she shares skills, principles, and tools for creating healthy, harmonious relationships—with friends, family, lovers, co-workers, and the world at large. Her uncommon approach to common sense will help you sail away from ego battles and into the calmer waters of real love. Learn more about Eve's Heart Path retreats at sacredmauiretreats.com.