When boomers re-enter the dating scene, they sometimes have a difficult time letting go of their past experiences, their sorrows, doubts, unrequited loves, losses, fears, and insecurities. They are afraid to love somebody again, and they are afraid of being loved back. Where did all these emotional obstacles come from? Ego. An imbalanced ego, that is.I always advise those looking for another love to take a look at their ego and give it a tune up. Your ego is your "I." It is your singular point of view. Be prepared to embrace your ego and encourage it to expand in a healthy way. When you do, you will become more self-aware and more confident. Not only will this help you get ready to date again after a divorce, but those you meet will respond favorably to someone who knows and likes herself. .Here are some "ego tips" to help get you started.There is nothing wrong with having an ego. Having an ego is like having an attitude. We all have one. An issue arises when its an overly inflated ego (like having a bad attitude). What does your "I" say about you? It is balanced and healthy? Or does it feel overly self-important and self-righteous on the one hand, or miserable and deflated on the other? Ego functions as your inner CEO. Ego is regarded as your psychological executive. Ego can be a warrior standing fast at the entryway to your body, mind, and heart, helping you make sound decisions. But when it's battered (as it sometimes is after a rough breakup), it can be a sly and destructive trickster. What kinds of choices are you making in your life right now? If they are extreme (overindulging or super hyped up on the one hand, or isolating and punishing on the other), your inner CEO needs an adjustment. Ego also functions as your CFO (Chief Financial Officer). It judges gain to be good and loss to be bad. However, nature makes no distinctions. Life is full of gain and loss. Practice seeing both sides of situations, without judging. Learning to accept give and take, ebb and flow will help prepare you for the ups and downs of future love relationships.
When the ego is egomaniacal, so are you. If your ego is healthy, your expectations are healthy and expressed in a healthy way. If you are always trying to control everything, or believe you are always right, then your ego needs to be dialed down.
Trust is directly linked to ego. If you insist on placing greater value on your own opinions rather than those of others, trusting will be difficult. The more you practice humility, the healthier your ego will become. When you do this, trusting becomes easier, opening the door to love.
Practice ego boundaries. Without a psychic boundary, you are easily absorbed into other peoples definition of you. Understanding your ego strength helps you become aware of your own feelings and those of others. By gently revealing these feelings, you not only define yourself, but you may discover that there is little or nothing to fear in doing so.
Conflict can put ego into perspective. Strange as it sounds, conflict can be the key to unlocking the doors of deeper intimacy. An honest, deep, and committed relationship will continually confront you with all the parts of yourself that are not totally loving. The conflict this creates in a relationship can be painful and uncomfortable as it stretches you beyond the boundaries of your ego. But putting your ego aside and facing those uncomfortable feelings will bring you closer in your relationship.
Barbara Kennedy, MPH, MSW, is a well-known relationship coach, prominent speaker, and public health educator with a private relationship coaching practice in Scottsdale, Arizona. Her new book is Baby Boomer Men: Looking for Love (www.babyboomermenlookingforlove.com).