The following questions and discussion cover Chapter 3:Self in When, Why… If by Robin Wood.
[See Personal Ethics: an introduction and Ethics: Honesty for the previous entries in this series.]
I love how hard this chapter is! It makes you look at yourself (with honesty) and realize how your choices and actions affect others, as well as yourself. Even now, looking at my answers from a week ago, I’m starting to question my self-assessment.
First, let me define a couple of things for those without the book. A Mego is someone who’s ego makes everything about them (i.e. “me me me”). An AntiMego is someone who always puts others first, sometimes to their detriment (i.e. “give until it hurts”). A balanced person may swing slightly between these two personality types, but they avoid the extremes on either end of the spectrum.
In my answers, I call myself a mild Mego. I originally based this rating on the fact that I’ve been very forceful lately, both with myself and those around me. My inner dialogue is less “but how will this make him/her feel?” and more “he/she will survive if I do this the way I was planning to”. At the same time, however, I recognize that I still put other people’s feelings and needs above my own regularly.
For example, my coworker gave incorrect information this morning. The Mego in me didn’t correct her, because I don’t enjoy her acidic attitude (she doesn’t take any form of criticism, constructive or not). I contacted our supervisor to ask for assistance, because she can correct my coworker without getting any lip in the process. The AntiMego in me contacted our supervisor for assistance, because I didn’t want her to continue making errors that affect her students, but I also understood that she wouldn’t handle my correction well. I didn’t want her day to be shot and tension to rule our office for the entire shift. Depending on how you view the situation, I acted either as a Mego or AntiMego.
As always with ethics, nothing is ever cut-and-dried.
Now, on with the chapter’s exercises!
 On the Mego-AntiMego continuum, I feel that I usually act like…
…a 4.9M, close to midrange but not perfectly balanced (and slightly more Mego than AntiMego).
 I say that because…
…I’ve been pushy lately with my wants, needs, and goals. I’ve accepted very little in the way of compromise, largely (I think) as an overreaction to being too flexible and willing in previous years.
 I want to change/don’t want to change because…
…I’m good where I am. I’ve always been midrange and almost balanced, and I think different parts of our lives deserve different levels of self-focus and selflessness. As long as the balance isn’t thrown into a huge pendulum of extremes, I think it’s all good.
 An honest, balanced self image would include…
…recognizing both your faults and your gifts without giving more weight to one or the other. Let each thing, good or bad, be measured on its true merit and not perceived value. For example, having a skill at creative writing is not less useful than the skill of cooking. Sure, cooking will actually feed a family and so forth, but a story will feed minds. Murderous rage is obviously a bigger flaw than biting your nails.
 Write a list of your best character traits; those things that you would love if you found them in someone else. Make sure there are at least ten things on your list.
I’m creative. I’m great with random facts. I say the weirdest things for a good laugh. I have a way with words that gets people to truly listen. I can cook randomly delicious meals out of miscellaneous pantry items in a pinch. I’m not dramatic. I enjoy simple pleasures, like movie night with friends. I don’t belittle or look down on others for not knowing something, because there are no stupid questions. I enjoy helping others. I love with an open heart.
 Write a list of things about yourself that you would like to change. Put no more than three things on your list.
I want to stop being a procrastinator, especially of my own dreams. I want to push myself to learn new things, even when I’m comfortable right where I am. I want to learn to let go better, so I can enjoy certain songs/smells/tastes again without negative memories clouding my enjoyment.
 If you pegged yourself at 3 or below, do something for someone else that can not possibly help you, every single day this week. If you are 7 or above, do something for yourself that can not possible help someone else, every single day tihs week. If you are between 3 and 7, decide which of these exercises you would get the most good out of, and do that. Or do some of both!
It’s hard to do this exercise for two reasons. One, I always forget it’s here until halfway through the week when I actually get to these questions. And two, I’m already a midrange person, so I already make a habit of balancing between myself and others. My biggest change is making an effort to do nice things that are out of the usual pattern, like washing and folding up all of the laundry myself instead of splitting the chore or cooking dinner without help.
 See all the clerks, waitresses etc. that you encounter today as real people, with their own lives, and their own stories to tell. Really look at them. Acknowledge them as people.
I’ve seen workers as people since my first job in high school. It’s hard to judge someone harshly when you’ve walked in their shoes and been just as underpaid and undermotivated. This lesson has never left me, and even the worst waiters and rudest clerks get treated as people.
 Treat everyone sharing the road with you today as if they were real people in cars of their own, with destinations as important to them as yours are to you. If someone cuts you off in traffic, say a prayer for their safety and that of everyone they encounter as they hurry to their goal.
I don’t suffer from road rage. My reaction to being cut off is “hey, be careful!” My usual passengers can attest to the fact that, after a near accident, I pray that person drives much more cautiously after escaping our near-crash. I’ve been laughed at for being too kind, but it falls into the same category as . I can’t not see people as people, and I’m careful about throwing negativity around all willy-nilly.
 Do something spectacularly nice for someone in your family, just to surprise them. If you rated yourself as an 8.5 or above, then the person in your family to “treat” is you!
I’m going to do some serious cleaning this weekend (before class) to treat everyone else in the house. Normally, we scrape by with minimal cleaning (dishes, laundry, and trash) and nobody wants to touch dusting, sweeping, clutter, etc. Occasionally, I choose to do so in an effort to make everyone feel uncluttered and tidy.
[Note: I did do some cleaning, mostly of the living and dining areas. Everyone was pleased!]
Everyone goes through phases of Mego and AntiMego in their life. It’s natural and (within a certain range) acceptable. The key is finding balance in your daily life, and learning to expand beyond your natural state when necessary. There’s nothing wrong with being a Mego, as long as you’re willing to step down and not be the most important thing in the room when it counts.
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