Turning Defense into Acceptance of Accountability

Recently, I heard myself say, “I didn’t intend to…” From my self-protective, bubble of limited awareness persona point of view, this statement makes sense. This deflection, however, resists acceptance of accountability. I don’t question my defense because that would expose something I’m hiding on purpose. What am I hiding? My fear of culpability!

Why do I fear my accountability?

What Can I Do to Reclaim My Accountability?

“I didn’t” and “I’m not” (negations) often offer me an easy indicator of defense. Whenever I hear a negation (n’t, not, never, no, etc.) come out of my mouth, I can assume I’m in defense. Whenever I hear you say those words, and feel your defense, I can assume I’m in defense, too. Defense is defense no matter who shows it because it is I who perceives it. Defense is just an indicator, and so…

Rather than shoot the messenger, my mirror, I can pay attention to the message. Once aware, I’m in a position to accept accountability. To soften my defense, I can use my language to remove the negation out of a defensive statement. Then I have something to work with. “I didn’t intend to…” becomes, “If I did [intend that]…” Then, inquiries into hidden intentions can arise.

The following self-inquiry questions can perhaps lead to self-awareness and acceptance of accountability. Referring to our example above, “I didn’t intend to…” Once I calm my protective persona’s defensive posturing, I realize it’s just an indicator, a message to myself about my unconscious intention to survive.

I can then question that intention by inquiring about how I feel concerning the message. Based on that feedback, I might ask myself, “If I did intend to [do that]…,

  • Who did I believe I was to intend the outcome I observed?”
  • Why did I intend that outcome?”
  • How do I feel now about what happened then?”
  • What do I intend now?”

This inquiry starts a process of acceptance of accountability for my creation. Evidence of acceptance:

  • I would hear few or no negations in my communications.
  • I would hear connecting questions like, “How can I help us reconnect]…?” and “What do you need [for the relationship to reconnect]?” and etc.
  • The other person would report feeling cared about.
  • My body and mind would calm down.
  • A sense of profound joy in connection.
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Freeing Power of Humor

Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh? Laughter can have positive physical effects on the body and can play a huge role in the relief of mental-emotional stress. As a healing agent, laughter can stir up and cause the release of hidden defenses like bias, prejudice, and other thinking errors.

Rigid adherence to programs limits my experience by blinding me to alternatives. This certitude affects how I experience humor. When in certitude, one feels they must follow the program – from which they can’t “let go” and they can’t “move on.” In this fixed state of mind, I accept the wrongness of humor and thus reinforce the rightness of certitude.

Between the absolute rigidity of certitude and extreme flexibility of the undefined lay ambiguity. Ambiguity offers variety in interpretation of expression, a recognition of a paradox, and the essence of humor.

Healing Power of Humor

Perhaps humor exposes the paradox in and absurdity of my extreme rigidity or flexibility. Once I’ve exposed my secret defenses, I have an opportunity to deal with them. Sometimes recognition of a paradox in my belief, behavior, or thought process brings me a chuckle that grows in the sharing.

Laughter, then, may be the manifestation of release of defense. Perhaps the compliment my laughter gives to a comedian is a “thank you” for helping me see the ambiguity in my defense.

When the feeling of freedom to choose returns because of the recognition of ambiguity, I may express that feeling as bliss, exhilaration, love. Those are the same feelings I express when connected to my gratitude.

When I get triggered, it’s because one or more of my beliefs has been challenged. Humor can offer us a gift for consciously questioning our triggers. When a joke strikes a nerve, it’s probably presenting me an opportunity to question a hidden belief.

When I don’t find humor in a type of comedy, it may be because I’ve invested in a hidden defense I’m not yet ready to let go of. I may be so invested in a drama related to the comedy that I can’t see the humor in it – yet. This is so especially when I feel offended by the comic presentation.

Psychological Benefit

Once aware of the hidden defense, I might inquire into it and derive psychological benefit from the experience. Even acknowledgement of my defense can open the door to philosophical inquiry.

Like humor, this type of questioning requires an environment of ambiguity in which I make myself open to alternative interpretations. This openness presents options for choices.

Commitment to one option collapses ambiguity into the certitude of a choice. Defense follows to support the choice, reinforcing certainty and resisting ambiguity.

In a balanced environment of certainty and ambiguity, philosophical inquiry can raise awareness and open doors to creativity. And maybe a good laugh!

Remember – both certainty and vagueness are necessary aspects of experience. How rigidly I apply either determines the level of paradox I experience in my life. A paradox subject to exposure that can come in the form of humor.

When life seems so serious it can’t be funny, maybe I’ve overlooked an opportunity. Then may be the time to seek and find a good laugh.

Perhaps the best laugh is the one I have on myself, the ultimate paradox of absurdity and reason. When faced with a paradox, question them!

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Aced Out! A Blue Jay Metaphor

Sometimes, nature provides an obvious metaphor for me to enjoy and incorporate into my life. From their acrobatic flight style to their azure color, we love blue jays, Several live close to us. We also enjoy their apparently playful nature.

We put unsalted peanuts out on the back porch occasionally and enjoy watching our little jays sort through, pick out, and fly away to secret them.

The jays don’t eat the peanuts. Rather, they fly away to bury them. We later find peanuts in our garden beds, our compost pile, in our grassy areas – everywhere.

We lay out peanuts and then watch from our vantage point above the action. The fun begins when more than one jay notices the peanuts, which is common because we call them when we put the peanuts out.

Aced Out!

One jay I’ve named Ace after the Toronto Blue Jays mascot busies himself chasing the other jays away from the treasure hoard. There’s plenty for everyone, but Ace apparently believes otherwise.

Ace misses out on the feast because he is so busy chasing his competitors away. Chasing away each of the other jays, Ace works himself to exhaustion. Meanwhile, his companions fly in behind him and swipe every bit of his hoard. In the end, we see Ace standing by himself on the porch with no peanuts to enjoy.

It appears he has lost his hoard to his companions because he sees them as competitors. Thus, perhaps he actually lost out to his own fear, greed, and sense of lack.

Had he shared his hoard with the others, he would have had his fill. Because of his fear-driven belief in lack, his need to protect what he believed was his alone, and his greed, he left himself with nothing.

Ace repeats the performance every time.

A Metaphor for Me

I’m looking at all the times when I felt lack in my life – and what I did about it. How I’ve chased away others because I feared they would take what I believed was mine alone. How I’d sought to protect what I believed was my property by warding off others – rather than enjoying the abundance with them. All those times when, while I was away fortifying my belief in lack, others enjoyed the bounty I refused to see.

And most important of all – what will I do with the lesson of this metaphor? Will I reach out to connect with others or continue to chase them away? Will I join in the feast or continue to busy myself working to satisfy a need that isn’t there?

There’s a lesson our beautiful jays are showing me. What will I learn from it?

Will I continue to ace myself out or will I choose another way?

Thank you, Ace!

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Investigating My Fearful Manifestations

In my limited awareness bubble, what is true is also what is right. I interpret every manifestation according to what I intend to be right of me. The first thing I intend to be right about is my survival. I then work to prove that interpretation right, which I present as invulnerability to death. My fear of death makes me defend against vulnerability!

I hide my vulnerability to control my presentations of what I intend others to believe is right about me – that I’m invulnerable! I look for feedback to confirm whether my presentation is convincing or not.

Manifestation provides feedback I can use to validate my beliefs. Yet, when need requires belief to outweigh facts, interpretation of manifestation can be a powerful convincer.

“A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.” (The Boxer, Simon and Garfunkel)

Because I can imagine a scenario in which even the most benign thing might hurt me, I live in a world of fear. That fear affects my interpretations, which affects my experiences!

Intention + Perception = Interpretation of Manifestation

Fearful intentions affect perceptions that affect interpretations of manifestations to prove rightness of fearful intentions. Because I live in a world of fear, here’s how I do this:

  1. I set a fearful intention to prove right my first intention, to survive.
  2. My perceptions make me aware of my symbolic representations of fear.
  3. I compare those symbols with my fearful intention.
  4. I interpret manifestations according to those symbols to fit my fearful intention.
  5. This interpretation proves that my fearful intention is right.
  6. I defend my rightness against the appearance of threat.
  7. Thus, I’m successful in fulfilling my first intention – to survive.

Since I tend to judge based on my sense of sight, my perceptual interpretation of visual appearance can affect the accuracy of my experience. For example, I might distrust a person dressed as a clown based on a scary experience I had of a clown. It doesn’t have to be a threat to present a threat. It’s in my interpretation of the presentation.

When I see someone else’s vulnerability exposed, I may feel relief that it wasn’t me exposed! On the other hand, their exposure confirms the possibility of my exposure. Thus, strengthening my fear of exposure and my need to defend against it.

Eventually, it becomes less about defending myself against real threats and more about defending myself against the appearance of threat. And what is the greatest threat? That which challenges my first intention – rightness!

What About Self-Inquiry?

How can I inquire about the true nature of Self when such inquiry may challenge my rightness and/or expose my inquiry to attack? How do I make a challenge without provoking a defense against it? What happens when I see myself as a threat?

As long as a question appears as a threat that invokes the very mechanism we described above to defend against it, how do I even begin to ask?

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Could Belief Be Its Own Defense?

In my First and Second Degree limited awareness world of competition and defense, I’ve divided up oneness with beliefs. A belief is basically a set of connected concepts I’ve separated out from all concepts to form or add to my story. My acceptance of that belief as truth becomes my defense of those concepts and my story as the story.

Belief as Authority

My belief, then, acts as an authority that proves I am a sovereign individual, free to think and act as I please. Not obvious to me is that I’m the servant of that authority, which is my belief.

Perhaps that’s why I rankle so much when someone, even me, challenges my belief. That challenge is to the sovereignty of my identity – who I am. I am my belief.

In a context of true vs false, my perception of separation defends my story from yours based on my truth. This pits my story against yours in a battle for “the right belief,” which connotes there is a wrong belief, yours. When applied to a group of like-minded individuals, a simple belief can grow to fanatical, perhaps dangerous, proportions.

Thus, my beliefs confirm my paradoxical concept of separation as the one and only truth. One might consider belief as the initial and fundamental defense that separates one into a competition between this versus that.

Belief as Defense

Because I perceive my right belief as separate from your wrong belief, I defend mine from yours, me from you. This belief in separation in sovereignty provides me with a sense of differentiation that I can use to compare – and defend. Thus, I confirm my rightness.

Comparisons can lead to competition in which every concept appears to defend itself against all others. This means that every belief is a defense protecting and protected by other beliefs.

When I say, “I believe…,” am I actually saying, “I defend…?”

To answer a question one must question the answer. When there is only one answer to a question, I’m probably dealing with a belief upon which I’ve placed a high degree of certitude. To dissolve the defense that is the belief, I must question my sense of certainty. Concerning my belief:

  • What is this belief protecting?
  • How is it protecting it?
  • Why is it protecting it?
  • Who am I protecting?
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