Many years ago, my best friend said to me, “Pat, you are very defensive.” Can you guess how I responded? I said, “What do you mean? I’m not defensive.” Isn’t it amazing when we are unconscious or not awake that we don’t recognize behaviors in ourselves that are unhealthy? I truly wasn’t aware how defensive I was until she confronted me and I became willing to look at myself.
It has taken me years of “undoing” behaviors that didn’t serve me or anyone else. Whenever I am defensive, I am living from a victim consciousness and forgetting the truth of who I am as a divine being and loved unconditionally.
A victim consciousness is believing things and experiences happen TO me, not FOR me. It’s poor me, nothing works out for me, why me, etc. It’s about blaming others, manipulation, taking things personally and always wanting to be right or having the last word. It’s about reacting, rather than responding.
When I REMEMBER that everything happens FOR me, I am trusting that the Universe is working on my behalf and often behind the scenes.
- It’s knowing that everything is already planned in the mind of God and nothing is against me.
- It’s knowing that I can relax, trust, surrender and enjoy my life.
- It’s knowing Spirit wants only my happiness and that I am loved.
- It’s knowing that everything that happens and every button that is pushed is a gift.
My buttons were pushed this week and I had the opportunity to practice not reacting, but responding in love.
Growing up, I was a people pleaser. I didn’t speak up, say no, ask for what I wanted, set boundaries and expected my loved ones to read my mind. Can you relate?
We often teach what we need to learn. I learned assertiveness skills and asked for what I wanted and deserved. When I worked as a therapist at the VA hospital, I taught weekly assertiveness groups for years. Little did the patients know how I was learning and practicing right along with them.
As I learned new assertiveness skills, I spoke up about EVERYTHING. When you are learning a new skill or behavior, the pendulum often swings to one direction until it gets back into balance. It was empowering to speak up, not be a doormat, and not be afraid to say no or set a boundary. My children didn’t particularly like my new behaviors as they liked getting their own way.
In our marriage, my having “to be right” and have the last word still shows up at times. Rather than always “speaking up” I’m practicing “shutting up” and not REACTING. Here is what happened:
I was cooking something in the oven and it wasn’t done for another 10 minutes. I had an appointment and had to leave the house. I asked Larry, “Would you please take it out of the oven when it is done?” He agreed and I didn’t think it was a big deal because he is always helpful and was preparing something in the kitchen.
When I returned home, I thanked him and said, “I appreciate you cleaning up everything.” He politely and appropriately said, “I would appreciate it in the future if you didn’t leave the house with things in the oven.”
I quietly said, “OK.” This was NEW behavior for me because it was not what I wanted to say. I was so angry and wanted to blast him. I asked God for help, let go and surrendered to “what is.”
Instead of REACTING with words that I would have regretted, I RESPONDED with love and said, “OK.” I quietly went to the bedroom and wrote my anger until it was all out of me and then ripped the paper up. I don’t think Larry even knew I was angry.
When we came together that night, I was completely free with no residual from the incident. In the past, I would have had to share my experience and discuss what happened. I felt peaceful and didn’t have to say a word. I will speak my truth with what is important and let go of what isn’t.
A few days later as we were chatting about something unrelated to what happened, Larry commented, “I noticed that you didn’t REACT when I was feeling out of sorts this week. Thank you.”
I’m grateful for the grace to continually look at my behaviors and am willing to change. I’m responsible for my happiness and peace.
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