We have a choice. We can either live in our defenses and there are so many forms and types of defense mechanisms… OR we can opt for peace.
Recently I got the opportunity to experience being on the receiving end of a verbal wall of defenses resorted to by a friend in protective mode. Later he admitted feeling “exposed” as being “wrong” about something, which then triggered an automatic need to defend in an effort to protect himself from being found wrong. It became obvious, when we processed, that these verbal defenses had been a default position since childhood, used to counter the attack he was sure was inevitable were he to admit his culpability and/or vulnerability. For to be found mistaken or wrong is to be seen as weak, inadequate, or inferior, which the fragile victim ego does not take lightly.
His defenses sounded something like this:
“I didn't mean to: get in your way … say that … do that, etc.” (proclaiming innocence)
“I was just kidding … I didn't mean what I said,” I wasn't doing that … I would never do that, I'm not like that…” etc… (denial)
Taking responsibility for ourselves has an altogether different emotional tone AND sounds very different. It offers a much kinder way of treating oneself – and others; it opens the way to a radically different level of acceptance and surrender.
Taking self-responsibility might sound something more like this: “Thank you for the feedback … I appreciate it.” “Yes, I see how defended I am right now.” “WOW, wonder what I am believing to be so triggered?” “How can I see this situation in a more positive light?” “Thank you for pointing my defenses out to me; it will help me respond differently in the future.”
The important thing to know is that neither of these options are wrong, even though one type of response is certainly more mature than the other. The path of Awakening means we become conscious of the ways we hide from ourselves and the world, and we take direct action to align with a higher Truth, which is recognized by the compassion, kindness, and acceptance it generates in our system.
But our defenses also serve a purpose, for they point out to us where it is we are holding ourselves prisoners in shame, like for instance, anytime we believe we are being found out for having made a mistake. We fear being found out as wrong because on some level we have bought the notion that being right will somehow save us from shame and pain. This reflects the mind set of us as children. Frankly it remains where most of the world remains today regardless of their age.
So we can live in our fears and defenses, or we can choose to practice accepting ourselves as bumbling-fumbling, mistake-making, problem-finding and blaming, HUMAN beings. We can make room for forgiving ourselves for our human imperfections, even as we forgive those around us when they bumble along in their imperfect, often wrong, judgmental (like us) and seemingly vulnerable humanity.
It's not perfect, but it is indeed a much kinder, more peaceful way to live.