Have you ever noticed that a lot of people tend to take themselves too seriously? You know who I mean:

• Those folks who huff and puff with righteous indignation whenever they are challenged.
• Those people who glare and stare whenever someone says something they believe is inappropriate.
• Those individuals who seem to believe that it is okay for them to say things to others that should never be directed at them.

Do you have people like that in your life? Do you from time to time find them becoming annoyed by words, situations, or people that they would accept in the past but which have suddenly become intolerable to their egocentric psyches? Are you one of those people? When you see this happening in yourself or others, what do you think might be happening?

Human beings are driven by ego. Every person with a beating heart possesses some level of egoism. Egoism must not be confused with Egotism. The subtle difference between the two is that egoism is the natural pride and self esteem that we all have for ourselves while egotism is an outward display of self esteem which usually comes across as arrogance or conceit. Egotism is generally undesirable in human society but egoism is necessary for a normal, happy life. People who lose their egoism are usually depressed, miserable, or feeling a sense of despair. They have given up. Egoism is what made human beings the superior beings on our planet. It is that special ingredient that causes us to build huge buildings, fly to the moon and constantly research cures for diseases. It creates in us, a need to win!

Occasionally, egoism can turn to egotism. I call this heavying up. Sometimes a person who is normally even tempered and easy to get along with will change their approach to specific relationships. When that happens, we find folks saying things like this:

• “You can’t talk to me like that!” or
• “That’s not funny!” or
• “Whatever!” or
• “How would you know?”

Often this is because the person saying those things has allowed his or her ego to take flight in order to elevate them to a higher position than the person they are talking to. They have decided that the words or actions of the other person are repugnant to them in some way and have decided to react in an egotistical, humourless fashion, thereby belittling the other individual. It is intended to put them down or control them. Sometimes they will simply become uncommunicative in an effort to freeze the other person out. Sound familiar?

There can be many reasons for heavying up but usually the person that has allowed his or her ego to take over is feeling demeaned, insulted, hurt or simply afraid. Their ego is telling them to strike out in order to take control. Rather than thinking the situation through and treating the other person as an equal they believe that they can win by being superior, difficult, sarcastic or uncaring. For a moment in time they are acting like someone else. Their behaviour is neither characteristic nor acceptable even to them. They have been taken over by their internal self-defence mechanisms and they don’t really understand the ramifications of their actions.

When you come across people who are heavying up on you, do not react in kind. Do not retaliate with sarcasm or nastiness. That will only make the situation worse. Instead, take the high road and calmly explain to them that you mean no harm and that you would like help in resolving the issue at hand. Ask if you have offended them somehow and let them know that their opinions matter to you. The idea is to soften their egotistical veneer so that you can get back on track. Usually when it is made clear to someone in the throes of heavying up that they are being unfair or unpleasant, their ego will force them back into a more reasonable frame of mind. You see, no one really wants to be viewed as unfair, rude or egotistical and once they realize that they have been caught, they will revert to a more acceptable mode of communication.

By the way, if you ever find yourself snapping at someone for no apparent good reason, remember this: Stop taking yourself so seriously and LIGHTEN UP! If you can do that every time, your stress level will reduce and you will have a much happier life.

All the Best
Wayne Kehl

Author's Bio: 

Wayne Kehl is an author, lecturer and personal development coach in British Columbia Canada. Find out more about Wayne at www.dlionline.ca