Could Choosing Be a Hidden Defense?

In my world of limited awareness, making choices seems to be one of the most natural things we do as humans. So natural, we think we’re making choices even when we’re not. From choosing my words to choosing my mate, to choosing what flavor of creamer I put into my coffee, I think I’m making choices all the time.

Choice has some requirements – like a perception of comparable options from which to select. Comparing options makes the exercise of judgments necessary. Judging options by biased criteria limits awareness of possible alternatives. My rightness serves as the standard against which I judge options. Thus, perhaps most of what we call choice is actually a commitment to defend a judgment. Defending a choice is not a choice!

How can I know the difference between making and not making a choice? Especially when I think I’m making them all the time?

Automatic Choice Paradox

Responses to situations that seem threatening initiate automatic programs we obey without question. My life may depend on how I respond. What becomes automatic to obey is a program. Not all programs work the same way.

For example, when I turn my laptop on, certain programs initiate automatically without input from me other than pressing the power button. Once the computer is booted up, it presents me some choices – or so it appears. To fire up a program, I must tell the computer I want that program to run. I don’t dictate to the computer how that gets done. A program dictates that process. The more I learn about the operation of my laptop computer, the more useful it becomes to me.

How do my automatic programs affect my choices? I see them as a natural part of my daily life. Are they? Where does choice come in?

Although we may see choice as a means of solving limitation, the program for making a choice supports it. Paradox!

Questioning My Choices

Because I follow a set program for making choices, they cannot be considered free. Instead, I experience a sense of choice while obeying a program of defense without question. Even when I question my choice-making program, I’m obeying the previous choice-making program to make a choice to obey a new one! Catch-22!

When I ask an awareness-expanding question, I open a door to possibilities – where freedom of choice resides. In an instant of inspiration, one is faced with a choice between acceptance of accountability and the default, which is to return to defense. This “instant of choice” happens out of time – where flashes of inspiration and possibilities reside. The Aha Zone!

Maybe it’s time for me to question my choices – in a new way. Starting with an investigation of my selection-by-defense program.

A Paradox of Oppositional Agreement

In my bubble of limited awareness, where there are two or more, there is opposition. Thus, I exist because you exist in opposition to me – you’re real because I’m real – validating my reality.

I defend this perception because it allows me to make comparisons. This requires me to divide reality into comparable parts, enabling me to define and refine it in terms of relationships. Things exist in relation to their environment. I exist in relation to my environment.

In this reality, I extend my self-referenced perspective to serve the environment by considering the perspective of that environment. Any thing is a part of my environment while I am part of its environment. How can we be separate and together? You can in a relational reality – where I validate my intention by validating your intention. I assume both. When I acknowledge your existence, I acknowledge my own.

Comparative Validation

I assume you have needs that require fulfillment because I do. My attention is drawn to your similarities to me to assess what needs you have and fulfill. When I see you do something I do, I assume you do it for the same reason. This validates why we do something – and that we exist – therefore, I exist.

At the same time, I’m noticing differences. I assess those differences for the purpose of understanding this other aspect of me. Are they a benefit or threat – and how much of each are they?

With each perception, I notice and judge differences and samenesses to discover my needs and their fulfillment. It’s an oppositional agreement relationship I have with me. It’s a paradox of complementary agreement where I acknowledge that you exist because I need to exist.

Intention Fulfillment

Intention fulfillment is an expression of oppositional cooperation. For example, the pencil and paper express their purpose in cooperative opposition to each other. Each acknowledges the need for the other in their expression.

Within each conflict are aspects seeking acknowledgement of their contribution to existence. This while seeking to express their existence through opposition. And overcome whatever threatens that expression and acknowledgement.

Thus, reality by conflict is a paradoxical consensus in which opposing sides of a conflict agree to conflict. That opposition gives relativity to common agreement – an agreement to make what is opposed real. Each aspect of a concept relates to others in the language of opposition – defense.

Once I learn the language of defense, I can apply consciousness to adaptation. In this way, I can interpret in new ways. Before conscious awareness, I must react in order to live. After conscious awareness, I can choose to respond differently. I move out of reaction and into choice.

Conscious awareness turns opposition from a threat into an opportunity.

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.

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!

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!