The ego is always on guard against any kind of perceived diminishment. Automatic ego-repair mechanisms come into effect to restore the mental form of "me. " When someine blames or criticizes me, that to the ego is a diminishment of self, and it will immediately attempt to repair its diminished sense of self through self- justification, defense, or blaming. Whether the other person is right or wrong is irrelevant to the ego.
It is much more interested in self-preservation than in the truth.This is the preservation of the psychological form of " me. " Even such a normal thing as shouting something back when another driver calls you "idiot" is an automatic and unconscious ego-repair mechanism.
One of the most common ego-repair mechanisms is anger, which causes a temporary but huge ego inflation. All repair mechanisms make perfect sense to the ego but are actually dysfunctional. Those that are most extreme in their dysfunction are physical violence and self-delusion in the form of grandiose fantasies.
A powerful spiritual practice is consciously to allow the diminishment of ego when it happens without attempting to restore it. I recommend that you experiment with this from time to time. For example, when someone criticizes you, blames you, or calls you names, instead of immediately retaliating or defending yourself - do nothing. Allow the self-image to remain diminished and become alert to what feels like deep inside you. For a few seconds, it may feel uncomfortable, as if you had shrunk in size. Then you may sense an inner spaciousness that fels intensely alive. (I have done this on many occasion, like standing your ground and allowing the other person to show their reactive behaviour with whatever insults they wish to hurl at you. Without responding, my inner light expanded and I felt much stronger.) You haven't been diminished at all.
In fact, you have expanded. You may then come to an amazing realization:
When you are seemingly diminished in some way and remain in absolute nonreaction, not just externally but also internally, you realize that nothing real has been diminished, that through becoming "less," you become
When you no longer defend or attempt to strengthen the form of yourself, you step out of identification with form, with mental self-image. Through becoming less (in the ego's perception), you in fact undergo an expansion and make room for Being to come forward. True power, who you are beyond form, can then shine through the apparently weakened form. This is what Jesus means when he says, "Deny yourself" or "Turn the other cheek." This does not mean, of course, that you invite abuse or turn yourself into a victim of unconscious people.
Sometimes a situation may demand that you tell someone to "back off" in no uncertain terms. Without egoic defensiveness, there will be power behind your words, yet no reactive force. If necessary, you can also say no to someone firmly and clearly, and it will be what I call a "high-quality no" that is free of all negativity.
If you are content with being nobody in particular, content not to stand out, you align yourself with the power of the universe. What looks like weakness to the ego is in fact the only true strength. This spiritual truth is diametrically opposed to the values of our contemporary culture and the way it conditions people to behave.