Tuesday, December 31, 2013

You're Wrong. I'm Right. Here's Why.

It usually goes something like this.

Someone makes an observation about me. Something personal. I don’t like it. I get defensive. I explain why their observation is wrong or I start arguing my side, trying to provide more context so they can come to a better conclusion about me. Really, it’s so they can come to a conclusion that I prefer. When people don’t see me the way I see myself, it BOTHERS me. I’m like, Nope, you’re wrong, here’s why.

I want to control how I am perceived. Sometimes it seems that I even want to control what is said to me. So when people say things about me that I don’t like, I get defensive. It messes up my flow and I react.  I don't necessarily get aggressive, but I might pout or act out in some way.  Criticism creates self-doubt for me because I start thinking that something about me is not working, or I have a problem, or whatever.

So when my sister made a comment about how I spend a lot of time on my phone and that is probably why my kids are on their devices a lot, I felt defensive. Yeah, I didn’t like that comment at all. Some hidden guilt, perhaps?

When my significant other says something to me about how I mother our kids, I get DEE-FENSIVE. I have my reasons and excuses. Even constructive criticism, especially when it comes to my kids, is not received well.

I don’t like to be questioned or challenged when it comes to my behavior.  It feels like I’m being picked on, you know? Like, what’s your point? Don’t bother me.  For some reason I don't get defensive when it comes to tactical things, I guess because I'm not emotionally attached.  But question my goodness? my intentions? my creativity?  I get all self-righteous.

I realize that I’m being immature. I’m acting like that girl, a younger version of myself, who doesn’t know herself very well and feels threatened by any and everything. This girl needs to control what everyone thinks of her. She needs to have the last word. She needs to be right. She needs to be the victim, the innocent, the misunderstood.   Anyone who has a problem with her or sees error in something she does is wrong and mean and she wants them to come away from the conversation knowing that. You’re wrong, I’m right. And even when I’m wrong, I have my reasons, so I’m still right. So there.

Enough is enough.

The woman that I am now knows herself and has nothing to prove. I know that I can’t control who I am to anyone else, but I can control who I am to myself. Why do I need to get all bent out of shape when someone says something to me that I don’t like? When someone questions my behavior or intentions? My peace of mind should not be dependent on being understood by others. I mean, it’s nice to be understood, but I don’t want to need that approval in order to feel content with myself.

And what about accountability? What about growth?

Sometimes a person can say something that hits a nerve, an insecurity that we have yet to fully acknowledge; and because we haven’t dealt with it, our reaction is super emotional and defensive. Deep down we know that there is truth in what they are saying and we don’t like that they have brought up something that we don’t want to deal with.   What?! You’re mean, you’re wrong, here’s why. Now, feel bad about yourself and apologize.  This is my ego talking to my imagined oppressors.

When I’m at my best, I’m calm and thoughtful and aware of my emotions without being a slave to them. I’m graceful in the midst of discomfort. I know that I always learn about myself from my relationships and interactions with people. If I’m secure with who I am, I should be able to hear both praise and criticism without taking off on an emotional roller coaster. I don’t need to change anyone’s mind about me. I can listen and reflect and decide what to do with the feedback I receive.

This is important to me because what I crave most is inner peace. I spent so much of my life only feeling peaceful when I was in good standing with others. So now, when someone makes a comment and I overthink it and it steals my peace of mind, I feel that familiar angst that comes from playing the victim, having my peace stolen away, feeling unhappy because someone said or did something that wasn’t part of my script.

When I give my peace away so easily, I'm wrong.  Even if I'm right, I'm wrong.

Do you feel defensive when people question you or challenge your thinking? Being defensive requires a lot of energy. We can’t allow ourselves to be controlled and pushed and pulled all over the place by what other people think of us. Instead, “Breathe it all in. Love it all out.” I think that’s a Danielle Laporte quote, but I’m not sure. But yeah, do that and save your energy for productive things like finding love in hopeless places or whatever it is you do that makes the world a better place.

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  1. Thanks for this! I sometimes feel this way. As I age I find out that defensiveness, and playing the victim isn't necessary. Happy New Year!

  2. You struck a nerve with me on this one. A comment that I usually get is that I'm "aggressive." That instantly puts me in defense mode. And it's usually from people who barely know me. Once that comment is made to me, I shut down on that person. It makes me feel bad. To me aggressive reads negative. I don't like being viewed that way but I can't do anything about that. I can be loud, speak my opinion or voice my thoughts confidently and that always gets me the label of aggressive. I'm still working on not letting that word bother me. I struggle, but I'm working on it.

  3. This has truly blessed my life! I see myself all over this! These are definitely areas that God is truly working on in me. This could not have come at a better time in my life. Just being able to openly admit my struggle is liberating. Thank you so much!

  4. Oh yes..this sound all too familiar to me. I still at times get anxious when I'm in the presence of people who question the decisions that I make; and by me speaking up or definding my truth would cause some type of conflict I'm working on it. With each interaction. And with each interaction that I am able to just BE my truth and “Breathe it all in. Love it all out.” I feel a little bit more free and lighter.

  5. Reading this I felt like I was reading about myself. I know these feelings all too well and have shared similar experiences/reactions. You are so inspirational and I appreciate your vulnerability and encouragement. I will keep thinking about your line: "I can’t control who I am to anyone else, but I can control who I am to myself." That is so powerful and truthful!

  6. oh Ms. GG, there you go again speaking directly to me.
    "I spent so much of my life only feeling peaceful when I was in good standing with others."
    I have done just that, and its sad really, because the things are so trivial. If there was a good moment here or a shared smile or laugh there, I would think, "ok great, we're good, solid, we are just ok". And that would give me peace...the temporary kind. It was horribly silly. People making comments about my age, or what I'm doing or not doing would have me on edge some days, just festering like "Why on earth would they say that?! I need a rebuttal!" But I realized in the middle of 2012 that I'm growing up more actively now, like I did when I was younger but more mental, spiritual, emotional growth than just physical. Because of that, I would have to grow intentionally, and positively as well. That is still something I struggle with, but with God, really listening to myself on the inside and just taking things one moment at a time, I'm progressively finding my own peace outside of who agrees or disagrees, or feels whichever way about me. Thank you for your posts, they are a catalyst for my continual positive growth.

  7. This was so on the money. I was listening to Deepak Chopra on the 100 Life Goals webinar and he said that the energy we spend defending ourselves from people's negativity (real or imagined) is draining (paraphrased) us and then we wonder why we don't have the energy to do things that we need or want to do! "When I give my peace away so easily, I'm wrong. Even if I'm right, I'm wrong." Made me think of that directly. He also said that what people think of me is none of my business… I think that its paramount to making sure that we are on course with where we want to go to let go of other people's judgement, and allow them to think what they want, while we do what we want; as long as we are not infringing on their personal space or peace.

  8. This is amazing! I have to save this because it really and truly stuck a nerve with me. I am a people pleaser and even when it doesn't seem like it, I'm too concerned with what other's think -- particularly those close to me, my loved ones and family members. This quote bears repeating "My peace of mind should not be dependent on being understood by others. I mean, it’s nice to be understood, but I don’t want to need that approval in order to feel content with myself." My peace of mind should not be dependent on others outlook and opinions/view of me. That is their view, lens that they see through. Likewise, I have my outlook, opinions and views of otherwise that I see through my 'lens' and really, it has nothing to do with them and it shouldn't change how they feel about themselves.