I was on the bus, heading to work. It is always a great experience to take public transportation in our great city of Montréal. I live in a very cosmopolitan and mixed neighborhood, so I get to see all kinds of people and I just love it. It was 8am and the bus was full of people, mostly high school students. I was wearing my headphones, listening to the daily, New York times podcast which I highly recommend if you want to keep up with current affairs. So, here I am , minding my own business. It is the morning, I am not talking to anyone, I am just being pushed around and I am pushing people around as the bus was full at capacity. I am doing this as politely as I can but patience is running thin.
Then some teens started shouting. It happens. I put the volume to the maximum to cover their screams. Yet, I could still hear them, as if the audio was off. I couldn’t believe my ears. They were shouting, insulting each other playfully and they were being obnoxious. The primitive part of my brain lit up and I went into attack mode. I wanted to tell them to shut up, to behave, to stay still and be silent. I didn’t have time for this youthful nonsense.
I was mad, so mad that I even surprised myself. Then, as I was thinking about how mad I was and how stupid I must have looked, it hit me, and I just smiled. In the middle of that vocal chaos, I realized that I was letting my ego take over. My ego was running the show. I was making this episode about me, when it clearly wasn’t. How do I know that? I was a kid once. I did the same thing. As a matter of fact, I was worse. I remember that because I really was worse. Hell, I still shout today for no goddamn reason!
My ego almost made me snap at these innocent kids. I almost snapped at kids for being kids. I almost caused a commotion because teens were doing what teens do: have fun and be silly. As I was contemplating the enormous mistake I almost made, I asked myself “What kind of man would behave this way with kids 20 years younger?” . I guess the kind of man that allows his ego to take over in an instant, without resisting. I am not bragging but I am surprised at how much my ego nearly made me behave inappropriately in a situation that had nothing to do with me. They weren’t shouting at me, or near me. They were in the back and I was in the middle of the bus. To be honest, they were loud the first minute and then, they settled down, as teens usually do.
As people, we tend to make things about us, when they are not. I made this thing about me when I frankly shouldn’t have. The same thing goes when people are in a flight and a baby starts crying. People get collectively upset and they want the baby to shut the hell up. They keep looking at the parents and occasionally throw a disapproving look. Really, people? You think the baby is crying because it is having a great time? You don’t think the baby itself would rather be napping instead of screaming its lungs out? We all know some kids are difficult and have no manners but usually those kids are older. If a toddler is crying, something is wrong. Yet, people will make it about them and how they feel. How about the poor kid’s feelings? The pressure is hurting its ears, the cold air is bothering its lungs a bit, the baby can’t quite sleep peacefully, maybe it is hungry and it ends up crying, but this is about you. Seriously? It is about you, the adult? You cannot be patient and be understanding? I know the flight can be hours long but stop being pissed off at things that are not meant to hurt you. The kid has no intent of hurting you or annoy you. It happens. You are stuck in a difficult situation. Deal with it. Be an adult. It isn’t pleasant but find the strength to deal with it.
Try as hard as you can to keep your ego in check. I am saying this as a person who can barely keep his ego in check. Nevertheless, whenever that happens, I celebrate the way NBA players celebrate when they win the championship. I believe the ego is there to mess with us. It will make you believe that certain things are about you when they are not. The ego can make you impatient and less tolerant. The ego can mess with your sense of self. When neglected or when it isn’t tamed, the ego will cause some damages. I am not going to pretend it is easy to keep the ego in check. It is the hardest thing there is out there.
Just take a deep breath and think. It is impossible to do that when you are pissed but try it. Take deep breaths, try to be analytical and put the ego in check. Not everyone is out to get you or hurt you. Some situations aren’t even about you. Your ego will trick you into thinking it is. Yet, if you step back, like I did on the bus, or like people do in plane with a crying infant, you will see that a little patience and analysis can calm you down. There is no magical fix as usual. But the ego is there, waiting, looking to take over. Don’t let it. Deep breaths and a little smile can go a long way. Not everything is about you. If you want to know how to keep your ego in check, there are a few books on amazon, or try yoga, it really calms the soul.
Just one man’s opinion…
Now, smile, keep the ego in check and go on with your day.