Last year my son was very involved in national tennis tournaments, so our weekends were most of the time spent next to tennis courts watching him play. I recall the first time I came across the “Rules of the Tennis Federation”, there was one clause that got my attention. It read as follows- “It is strictly forbidden for parents to interfere with the matches, at all times, which may result in the player being disqualified from the game”.  I chuckled and thought that it was rather drastic, but little did I know that there were good reasons behind this…

When Parenting and Ego come into play

For the under 12 year old category onwards the matches ran without umpires, as the rationale was that the players are mature enough to start counting their own points, make honest line calls, and it also helps to develop and promote fair play amongst the players. However, some parents took upon themselves to apply their ‘good intentions’ by acting as ‘unofficial umpires’, but lacking in impartiality and fairness in their judgements (from an outsider’s perspective), thus creating chaos and arguments in many cases. All these incidents had the following in common:  

  • Instead of the players fighting for the fairness of their own match, parents decide to take the matter in their own hands by interfering without the permissions of the players, because they think that they “know better”
  • Winning the match was so important to some parents as they perceived a winning outcome as being a reward and a way of valuing themselves as being ‘successful’ parents
  • Some parents were so desperate for their children not too fail, in this case to lose the match, that they would go to any lengths possible to prevent this from happening
  • The players felt the high expectations that were imposed on them and their desperate need to seek approval and acceptance from their parents was so obvious, it was disheartening  

I could not help thinking of the long-term psychological effect this would have on some of these children as they grow up constantly seeking approvals from others, losing understanding of their true Self in the process.  If we as parents only congratulate and support our children when they do well at school, or win a prize or a trophy, we would be teaching them that:

Our own Self, values and worth are measured by circumstances which are out of our control, when in fact it is the complete opposite

The Road to Recovery

I met with my Tai Chi/Reiki Master and teacher Daniel Lai last week and the subject of Self and Ego came into full focus. Below is a summary of our conversation and Daniel’s feedback:    

Our Ego is an intricate part of our Self, and in simple terms is the platform used by our higher Self to express its state of mind. The Ego is perceived as being a friend when in our Self we experience happiness, joy or contentment, alternatively as being the enemy when our Self is going through stress, unhappiness or losing control in a situation. We again come back to the concept of Yin and Yang.  The key is to strike a balance

We should rather use the word Self instead of Ego, as the word Ego is always tagged with negative feelings.  For example, when we say “this person has the ego the size of a mountain”, it is not perceived as being a compliment but rather the contrary! The Ego and the Self are inter-related and therefore should neither be considered a friend nor an enemy. 

For most of us, our Self will have the tendency of labeling things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by using past experiences to make those judgements and the more we do this the more we fall into the trap of wanting to be in ‘control’. We start expecting a lot out of people and we get angry when they do not perform according to our expectations. For example-

  • I am qualified to do this job, they should all be listening to me
  • They are all ungrateful, I spend so much time and energy helping them out, and this is how they thank me!
  • She/he is my wife/husband, he/she should be listening to me
  • We have spent a fortune on lessons and he still is not able to win any games, what a waste!  

It demands a lot of energy to be stressed and to build up defensive obstacles.  On the other hand, we save a lot of energy by letting go, being calm and accepting

Nourishing Our Self

We neglect to feed our Self with care, love and inner happiness, and instead use benchmarks such as a successful job, a luxury car, a beautiful home, money in the bank and all things material to measure success and achievements. Material things do not make us whole inside.

Moments of joy, contentment, laughter and peace is the answer

Ways of Nourishing Our Self

  • Make a point to disconnect yourself from technology such as TV, phone and internet for the first hour after you wake up and instead use that first hour of the morning to have some “ME” time, such as meditation, make breakfast, reading.    
  • Make time for yourself during the week, be it to pamper yourself, go to the gym, read quietly, or spend quality time with good friends.
  • Develop activities to promote empathy and compassion by helping people in need, perhaps a friend? Often in distressing situations the mere fact of being present for emotional support is enough.    
  • Practice your listening skills
  • Practice accepting people for who they are with their strengths and weaknesses, without judgement 
  • Practice building new relationships and new friendships
  • Practice tolerance and control of your own emotions, especially when confronted in difficult stressful situations

My Favourite Quotes on Ego and Self

The ego is your self-image, it is your social mask, it is the role you are playing. Your social mask thrives on approval. It wants control, and it is sustained by power because it lives in fear.

Deepak Chopra, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams

The moment you become aware of the ego in you, it is strictly no longer the ego but just an old, conditioned mind patter. Ego implies unawareness. Awareness and ego cannot coexist

Eckhart Tolle

Everyone makes mistakes, gets rusty or out of date, can always improve and I am no different. Being on the defensive or upset about criticism is just my ego talking


Quote on Self and Parenting

Adults constantly raise the bar on smart children, precisely because they’re able to handle it. The children get overwhelmed by the tasks in front of them and gradually lose the sort of openness and sense of accomplishment they innately have. When they’re treated like that, children start to crawl inside a shell and keep everything inside. It takes a lot of time and effort to get them to open up again. Kids’ hearts are malleable, but once they gel it’s hard to get them back the way they were

Murakami, Kafka on the Shore

My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me

 Jim Valvano

Meditation Time

Introducing Pauline Guerin, our guest of the month. Pauline has been practising yoga for 10 years now and used to suffer from chronic back pain. She started practising yoga and it transformed her life. Later on, she decided to become a yoga teacher.
Her life motto is ”Be playful, kind, loving and passionate in what you do, life is full of endless possibilities!”

We invite you to join her for a 10-minute meditation at the end of this post. Enjoy!

Wishing you good health and see you soon for another chapter of