I got defensive today. Someone said something and I read into it and I took it to an extreme and I got defensive. I knew I was getting defensive because I could feel it. I could quite literally feel the change in my muscles. I felt my neck start to stretch out and my chin rise - like it was trying to distance itself from the rest of me. I felt my head tilt and my eyes squint. I felt my lips purse - not pucker, in a cute little kissy kissy move - but purse in a "ooooooh reaaaaaally?" sort of move. I felt it in my chest - it got tighter, and in my heart - it got faster, and in my stomach - it got hollow. I got defensive. I sure shootin' did.
I know better. Heck, I TEACH better. I've spent hundreds of hours researching and teaching about defensiveness. I know chemically what's happening. I know it's a misfire, a misunderstanding, a misinterpretation in my brain. I know my brain is trying to protect me. I know it thinks I'm in danger and so it's reacting to a perceived threat. I know that getting defensive will only lead me where I most don't want to go. I know defensiveness ruins relationships. I know not one person in the history of forever has ever gotten defensive, reacted, dealt with the fall out and then said "Well, that went really well! Good decision!" I know all of this and still, I got defensive. Even worse, it happened today, on Positive Tuesday.
C'mon me, you know better.
The good news? I didn't REACT defensively. I employed a few techniques I've learned. I asked follow up questions. I listened. I found something, anything, to agree with. I told my brain "open up, open up, open up" and I got out of the conversation as soon as I could. I was safe. I didn't make it worse. Whew. Close one.
But now what? What do I do with all the lingering yuck? Because even though I didn't REACT defensively, I still FELT defensive. And this is the real trick. Not just learning how not to react but learning how to retrain your brain so that a "moment in time" doesn't become "every moment, every time."
So. Now for the application. Once the smoke has cleared on the moment of defensiveness, and you can think a bit more clearly, here are a few things that will keep you and me from cycling back through it all over again:
Gotta scoot. I've got some redoing to do! (and I'm gonna watch that seal again)
Remember, you are awesome!