Offensively Defensive

I started using the phrase ‘offensively defensive’  to describe some of my interactions with other people.  I’m describing the times where I feel like I may be under scrutiny for not living up to societal expectations.  I have fallen into the trap of trying to be defensive of my choices and the state of my life by ‘heading comments off at the pass’ if you will, so that I can make an excuse for something before someone has a chance to pass judgement.  Playing offense with defensive tactics.  In reality I’m being offensive to myself because of my defensiveness.  All this strategy does is opens a conversation that never needed to happen in the first place.  It is so rare for people to actually be disturbed enough by something I’m doing to make a comment.  Being unnecessarily explanatory for inadequacies also makes me appear insecure about what it is that I’m defending.  Looking in on myself, I see a disconnect in how I’m presenting myself to the world.  I carefully wind my way through life, checking my integrity at every pass.  So why am I coming to my own defense before it is called for?  If I were as confident as I think I am in my choices, then there should be no need to defend them.

I have so many examples of times where I use this strategy.  The easiest to spot are when people come over.  I feel the need to excuse the state of my house.  Rather than just letting it be what it is (cluttered because I spend time with my children and writing and reading instead of tidying).  I make excuses for the dishes near the sink or the mountain of clean but yet to be folded laundry.  Rather than allowing the energy to remain clear, it draws attention and my own negative energies to these misgivings, and measures them up as such by my own admission. Other examples include our food choices.  Rather than just stating facts (I don’t eat…) I feel the need to justify everything.  Unless a reason is asked for, people don’t really care.  And it’s not like I explain myself well in these situations, I usually give a partial answer, the one I think people want to hear.  Rather than clarifying things, it’s more like voluntarily putting myself into a fight or flight situation, one which only makes the issue more convoluted!

So…why do I do this to myself?

Because I feel there is some sort of standard that I should be living up to – but there is none, because we are not machines, we are not all alike, and we all have our own priorities.  Because I feel that I am being judged unfairly – but I cannot know that since I am only anticipating and projecting judgments, ones conjured in my own mind and thus a reflection of myself.  Because I feel like I should be better at something than I am – which I don’t need to be, I am what I am, I am enough.

So then, what instead?  I’d like to stop offending myself now.  Could I accept that people may judge my home, me, my children?  Could I accept that their judgement is not mine?  Could I exercise some self-compassion?  Could I choose to be happy?  Grateful for how I do spend my time?  Lose the fear?  Love?  Love it all?  I choose that.  And if I can’t be that yet, I’ll fake it until I can.

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8 comments

  1. A friend once came to visit and, noticing the “mess,” commented, “You are such a busy, happy family with so many interests.” It was such a liberating comment! It didn’t pretend not to observe, but just put such a positive perspective on the fact that I hadn’t been tidying….. I try to hold on to it as a vision of the way things are, even as I’ve got to a point where I am trying to sort out the house to make it easier to liven…. Anyway, glad to have found your blog! 🙂

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    1. Thank you so very much for sharing this. I feel that is why my house fluctuates from tidy to unruly, but often it’s not perceived that way. More aptly, my perception of the way it’s perceived is not that way. Hopefully you’re still close with that friend, since it’s important to surround ourselves with wonderful, positive and liberating people! I’m glad you found my blog too 🙂 Welcome!

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      1. You also seem to have very young children, and three of them! So if your home were immaculate and tidy, that would be noteworthy too! We’re all just working out how we want to be in our lives and our homes and sometimes the clutter piles up and the chaos is a force of entropy and other times magical elves come in the middle of the night and everything is baking- soda-vinegar clean and tidy as a fantasy — it’s just all part of it. I am currently in a phase of taking the long view and trying to massively de-clutter but this is challenging too. Anyone judgemental about other people’s houses just needs to be regarded as dealing with their own stuff. We’re all doing our best. I need to go down now and face that double-sink of dishes 🙂 But then it will grow back by morning.

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      2. There seems to be a zeitgeist thing around releasing ourselves from all the stuff that comes along with stuff…. That book looks good. I’m trying not to collect any more self-help books 🙂 Or any books for that matter, she says, in a house crushed under the weight of books….

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      3. We also have a ‘book problem.’ I borrowed this one from the library on audio book…although I ended up taking so many notes that I might have been better off buying it. If there was one clutter-free book that I’d recommend, this would be it (and I’ve read them all!) There was a time when I thought my destiny was to help other people declutter their lives…then I had children 🙂

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