The following piece is an excerpt from my book, “Word, From Your Mother,” a daily guidance journal written for my children, Liv and Pierce-Gabriel.
Do you need to defend yourself when you feel as though you were “attacked” verbally? Buyer beware; this is the stuff of the ego. I was listening to Eckart Tolle today. He quoted an excerpt from, A Course on Miracles (I highly recommend you read this, though it is an intensive study and as thick as the Bible). He stated that you’re identifying yourself with an illusion or the conceptualized/fictitious sense of self when you’re defensive. When you are defending yourself, typically, it is to provide safety of the self.
In other words, when attacked verbally, there is nothing for you to defend. You are safe. You aren’t going to be eaten alive. It would be best if you never let words hurt you. I understand that it is a difficult practice not to defend oneself. The other day, Dad and I were taking a ride in the car. I was driving, and he was perusing through Facebook. He noticed something that my cousin Christopher had posted about women (particularly, wives) always moving their husbands’ things without asking, therefore causing a raucous. He was going to reply, “Yes, my wife not only moves my stuff, but re-gifts it back to me.”
Okay, how could I not become defensive about that quirk? I immediately started defending myself that I had only done this once. Still, he has not let it rest (since 2007, mind you). And that by posting that terrible comment, it would make me look like an idiot. I further defended that if he had put his stuff where it belonged, this would not be an issue. Again, I also defended that everything has its place and its home. Black socks don’t belong on the countertop where I’m preparing food! So on, and so forth.
Well, he didn’t end up posting the comment because he recognized my sensitivity about the subject. He also told me to relax and that he was joshing. I still ended up chatting in my head; I said to myself, okay, here you go protecting your “little me, ego.” Who cares what other people think? Do you want to focus your time on something so trivial? Do you wish to contribute to this act of unconsciousness?
That question ended up bringing me back to stillness. Again, a challenging practice but worth being aware of. We have conditioned our minds to react defensively. What do we gain from that, though? What sort of satisfaction is there in being defensive? Not much. It is essential to bring ourselves to awareness when situations like this arise.
If you can catch yourself before you react and be thoughtful about whether your response will serve you, it is worth taking the time to realize this. I can say that when I’m able to catch myself in the heat of the moment (before reacting), I’m able to gain perspective, be receptive to my “now,” and return to the stillness within. The peace within is all-knowing. It reminds me that I’m safe and unconditionally loved. It reminds me to refuse to harbor negative thoughts or to react in a way that would only make things more dissatisfying in my life. As Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “What other people say about you is their karma; how you react is yours.”