How Defensiveness and Unhappiness Go Hand in Hand
by Jordan Myska Allen, a lover of life and entrepreneur. He acts as a psychological, spiritual, and professional consultant and practices applied integral thinking.
A good idea, community, or spirituality speaks for itself and doesn’t need defending. If criticism isn’t true, those falsehoods will be borne out over time. If criticism is well founded, the ideas need improvement and can incorporate the criticism, or they are wrong and should be let go. I’m happy trusting people to make those decisions and mistakes for themselves, to judge the usefulness of information and perspectives in their lives for their own purposes.
In My Defenselessness My Safety Lies
There’s a beautiful quote from A Course in Miracles that sums this up: “In my defenselessness my safety lies.”
In many ways this is classic psychology—if I’m defending against some attack, some part of me must be afraid that it is true. If someone said, “Jordan, your blue hair is ugly,” I’d laugh. I wouldn’t need to defend against the ridiculousness of the comment because my hair is not blue.
Embracing a mindset of defenselessness means a deep certainty that who we are can never be usurped, that nothing can ever really attack the essence of our being, and therefore it never actually needs defending. This deep certainty in the essence of who we are is a wellspring of happiness, joy, creative, and love. When I touch into this peaceful surety, I can express love to others and myself even when they are trying to attack me, even when my ego wants to defend against the perceived threat.
This can be a challenge. I have found it difficult, especially in times of intense emotion. Yet the more I commit to defenselessness, the easier it is for me to feel the love which underlies that commitment. And all of my defensive reactions are ways I get to see my fears and uncertainties. It’s fine to have them, it’s very human, but I don’t need to take them so seriously because all attacks are just as ridiculous as calling my blue hair ugly. They are just information that is either true or false. If the information is true I can incorporate it, if it is false I can laugh it away.
Opening to Alternate Pespectives
I think it’s great to get alternative perspectives on the things we hold closest to us. It helps deepen our relationship to what is important, and often opens us up to places we have been unconsciously blind. These unconscious blind spots often keep us from being happy, because we are always defending against them and therefore always feeling attacked, and therefore forgetting to remember the deep peaceful certainty of who we really are. Yet we should hold these alternate perspective lightly, just as we should hold our own perspectives lightly, because nothing can ever actually threaten our true nature.
So I strive to open to alternate perspectives while seeing them in context. Does it come from fear or love? If someone feels snubbed by a particularly dominant theory, or cast out from a community, I weed out the emotional response from the information. Their critique may still be accurate—our human emotions don’t discredit the truth of a particular piece of information—but then we can see the information as just that, not having to buy into the emotion of the attack. And not buying into it we choose against the unhappiness of our own defensiveness, thereby opening us up to love more fully.
In Service of Love
I’m rather convinced that a more encompassing, complex, loving perspective will continue to be developed in humanity, and expressed regardless of who it is expressed through or the words it uses. I’m certain that our current understanding of reality will be surpassed by a deeper and wider embrace. I study and practice and share joy in service of that love, that true essence of who we are, that is more true than anything else. I think the views I hold have helped me be more loving, but the second they don’t I hope I let them go, and do whatever necessary to let my actions support the expression of that love in the fullest way possible.