Wednesday, January 23, 2019

How Defensive Are You?

Give me a D! Give me an E! ... Defense!

image credit Rolling Stone
Now that the Patriots have beat the Saints, Super Bowl fever has officially hit football fans everywhere.
I’m a foodie and a marketing major college drop-out so I spend my time researching nacho recipes and branding trends.
I’m in it for the commercials.
Oh and Adam Levine. #HalftimeShow

Nevertheless, this is not a football article. But can we talk about defense for just a minute? Defense is usually a term saved for athletic competitions but people can go on the defense too. And we do it every day.

You’ve been defensive, right?
Your work gets critiqued ... you defend yourself.
A loved one accuses you of not caring/helping/listening?
You defend yourself.
You get held accountable? Defensive. There are lots of scenarios in which I am instigated into becoming defensive.
It's life.
It is a part of who we are and I imagine it has a lot to do with our will to survive. Innately we’re all trying to survive and thrive and any challenge to that will provoke us to be defenders of ourselves. Lucky for us we don’t have to fight for caves or land or fire anymore. So instead we fight for our reputation or our social status.

When something - anything, really - happens that instigates us to feel the need to become defensive ... whether it's justified or not (because sometimes, if we’re honest, our adamant need to defend ourselves is unnecessary)... it does one thing; it immediately isolates us emotionally.

It’s why when we feel wronged we immediately find someone to agree with us.
Let me create an example: my husband and I share a closet and he becomes critical of the way I organize my side and he expresses to me that he is infuriated with the state of all my stuff.
My response -  I immediately explain to him all the reasons why my side of the closet looks the way it does:
”I need all those clothes”
”I do 100 things every day to take care of this family, I would think those things would count for something” and
”Oh, yeah? Well, talk to me when you remember to pick your socks up off the floor!”

Instead of listening, I defend myself further creating a space between us
that gap becomes dreadfully, emotionally uncomfortable.

In order to avoid the isolating discomfort that forms in the wake of my defensiveness, I must find a way to not feel alone so I look for someone to talk to.
Because if someone would just listen to my closet woes and agree with me, then I don’t feel alone and if I’m not alone
I feel better and if I feel better
I feel right.
So I call a girlfriend, “Can you believe my husband is incredibly clueless? He’s mad about OUR closet when I’m the one who does all the laundry? He knows I need work clothes and casual clothes! It’s not MY fault I need so many things! I swear he has a lot of nerve telling me how to keep my closet!”
To which my faithful friend says, “He’s ignorant! All you do for that family and he’s gonna fuss about closet space!”
And now I feel completely validated, and since I’m not alone - my friend totally agrees with me - the discomfort I felt is gone! "See?" I tell myself, "being defensive about the mess on my side of the closet worked" and I feel - BAM! - justified.

And yet the problem remains.

How many times do we run into similar scenarios?
We’re right?
They’re wrong?
Somebody agree with me.
Are you always right? Really?
Are you quick to be defensive?

Here’s what I know....nothing ever changes without first examining our beliefs. Author Mark Manson states “Openness to being wrong must exist before any change or growth can take place

Soon, maybe even before today is over,
heck, maybe before you’ve even read this entire article,
someone will say something to you that doesn’t match your preconceptions.
That doesn’t make them wrong - I mean they could be -
but maybe it’s an opportunity for you -
an opportunity if you’re open.
A chance to learn
to grow
to change
to feel that sweet feeling of not having to have your emotional fists up all the d@mn time.
Because when you’re not on the defense you’re on offense.
And you know that’s where the points are scored
and the matches are won, right?

"Go Team! Go, YOU!"

Also, I'm making these nachos!

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