to Out on a Limb,
a monthly newsletter from Martha Clark Scala. This free e-zine
is meant to invite and inspire you to maximize the joy in
Good, the Bad, and the Ego
My parents spent
some of their first years of marriage in Europe. Based
for a time in Brussels, Belgium, they acquired a fairly
good command of conversational French. This second language
came in handy when they needed to converse amongst themselves
within earshot of their three children. Naturally, this
practice wrought curiosity … what
were they saying? We also had pottery with French sayings
on them. For example, “On a toujours vingt ans dans
le coeur.” Translation: one is always 20 years old
in one’s heart.
My mother, who
was toujours vingt an dans le coeur, had a favorite French
phrase. She pulled it out of her goody-box when one of
us got feedback that wasn’t 100% favorable. “Chacun à son
goût,” she’d say, with such confidence.
Phonetically, it sounds something like this: “shock-un
ah sawn goo.” Translation: to each his/her own taste.
This gem-phrase comes in handy for a number of situations
where you think you did something well but the feedback,
however delicately delivered (or not), tells you that you
did something poorly, or lousy.
If the feedback
you get is 90% favorable, and 10% points out some weaknesses,
do you tend to see that 10% in bold, italicized print,
with a font that’s two times larger
than anything else?
It is our ego that fixates so fully on whether something
is good or bad, and which has a hard time entertaining
the possibility that something might have positives, negatives
and so-so’s. The challenge is in knowing when to
make constructive use of the difficult feedback, and when
to say to yourself, “chacun à son goût.”
if Ego is the Problem …
may conclude that the solution to this problem is to eliminate
the Ego. Not so fast! Ego has both positives and negatives,
too, so it’s not advisable to jettison it out of
your psyche just because it is problematic at times. This
would be equivalent to deleting a first draft of a business
memo or piece of creative writing just because someone
points out that it has problems and needs work. Perhaps
a half-measure is more appropriate: rather than eliminate
the Ego, why not change your relationship with it? What
would it be like to say to Ego, “You’re not
the boss of me!” (I wonder what the French translation
of that phrase is!) What would it be like to change the
balance of power?
I Hear About Tai Chi
the teachings of Tai Chi practice is to invest in loss.
With less investment in winning, Ego’s thirst
for perfection might be tempered.
At a Tai Chi website originating in the United Kingdom,
I found this:
no significance to praise and your ego will stay quiet.”
The French word for quiet is tranquille. Phonetically, it
sounds like this: tron-keel.
Everything sounds better in French, don’t you think?
I’ll attach no significance to your agreeing with me,
and say, chacun à son goût!
Joy-Gram for July
something that you believe you are lousy at doing. That
means the “I can’t carry a tune out the door” folks
get to sing a song in the shower, or the car. That means
the “I can’t draw” folks get to play
with stick figures and symbols to capture a scene. That
means the “I can’t write good prose” folks
get to write at least a paragraph for no other purpose
than to write it. And while you do this, say to that Ego
part of you inside, “you are not the boss of me;
I do not need your praise.”
have asked me how to find past newsletters at my website.
Until now, they have been invisible! If you would like
to re-read or forward past Out On
A Limb newsletters, click
By no means
do I have joy “figured out.” Please do not assume
that I do! I write Out On a Limb as much as a meditation for
myself in the ongoing pursuit of joy, as for you. I think this
pursuit is a lifelong journey and that the full experience
of joy is, at best, episodic. May we all have more episodes!
Martha Clark Scala, MFT • 721 Colorado Ave., Suite 201, Palo Alto, CA 94303 •