Defensiveness is the First Act of War


You know that feeling… the one where you are suddenly hot with anger and on guard because someone said something to hurt your feelings?

Why does it hurt? Words don’t hurt until we give them meaning, -meaning WE have a thought about them.

Our natural instinct is to resist and fight back because we don’t like how it feels. We feel attacked. 

But the reason it bothers us is because even if the statement isn’t fully correct, we can find a kernel of truth in it.

I remember an incident when my now, high school senior, was 2-3yrs old..  My older, 6th grade son had asked me to drive him and a friend to school in a fancy convertible Porsche we were baby-sitting for a friend.  I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t have time to install the car seat. I hated saying no because frankly, I felt like at this point in his life, he needed a “yes.”  The school was less than a mile away and on residential streets, so I made the quick decision to just strap my youngest in with the seat belt (I know,- not smart!) and drove them to school.

I drove super cautiously, aware the entire time that I wasn’t doing what I should, to keep my baby safe.  I made it to the school, dropped off my older son, and then as luck would have it, the crossing guard started screaming at me, telling me I was the worst mother in the world, among other things… I couldn’t figure out her rage until I looked into the back seat and saw that my toddler had wiggled out of his seat belt and was standing up!  I immediately pulled over and strapped him back in… all while the verbal assault by the crossing guard continued. Wow. I was so filled with shame, and so angry that she was so completely berating me… but most of all, upset with myself because I knew that she was right.

I could have yelled back,- trust me, part of me wanted to!  But I really understood that she didn’t know me at all. She had no idea what kind of mother I was… her judgement of me was one small moment (a not so good one),  and I knew that I was not only a good mom, I was a great one. And as dumb as this choice was, I knew there wasn’t another mother on the planet that loved her kids more that I did.

When you can stop for a moment and find that kernel of truth,, you can say, “Hmmm, you are probably right!” You get to end the war before it begins and also embrace an opportunity to grow.

When someone questions your beliefs, your habits, your decisions…  Responding with, “Maybe you’re right.” Will quickly diffuse the situation and end the fight before it begins.

There is nothing wrong with not being perfect! We are all a hot mess! But there is something beautiful about owning the mess and being willing to admit our faults. It doesn’t make us less than, damaged or broken.  It makes us perfectly human.

Doing this one thing will defuse your own anger and allow you to feel more love. And who doesn’t want that??  Do I love that crazy mean crossing guard? I sure do! It was her love for children that made her behave that way.  Besides, holding a grudge or resenting her would just rob me of what I want to feel most. Choosing to love is all for me, because I’m the one who gets to feel it.