Weapons of choice

How can you tell if you’re playing at being invulnerable? 

You can’t tell what you’re doing if you’re not prepared to spend some time observing what you actually do, daily.

It’s a challenge I know, life seems to be so full and we’re always busy juggling things so that it all keeps going according to plan. So, if you don’t have all day to watch yourself in action, set aside a few minutes at the end of each day and reflect on your day.

I invite you to consider these brief descriptions of some of the weapons of choice for the invulnerable. This is not about feeling guilty. It’s about self-discovery and requires some honesty. Read each of the descriptions and ask yourself: is this a weapon I choose?

Sarcasm: the use of irony to mock or convey contempt – a sharp sword for cutting others down to size. ‘Only a moron would think that was the right thing to do.’

Blame: assigning responsibility for a perceived fault or wrong to someone or something else – a pointed spear for jabbing others. ‘Look what you made me do!’

Shame: humiliating someone, especially in front of their peers – a heavy mace for crushing opponents. ‘Even my ten year old can do better than that!’

Denial: refusing to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or responsibility – a solid shield for defending yourself from an attack. ‘It wasn’t me!’

Closed-mindedness: an unwillingness to consider new ideas – a complete suit of armour to protect you from doubt or being wrong. ‘If it’s in the bible, it’s the word of God, so it’s the truth.’

I know I feel a little uneasy when I become aware that I am wielding one or more of these weapons. If we’re not careful we can walk into a self-shaming ambush. Remember, it’s only when you become aware of your behaviour that you can do anything about it.

What can you do if find yourself using any of these weapons? First, forgive yourself. Most of us started using these weapons to protect ourselves as children, when we didn’t have all the information. Then, each time you become aware of wielding a weapon, stop, take a breath and remind yourself that you can choose another response.

You can choose to accept responsibility for your actions, you can offer a compliment or offer help instead of judgment, you can choose to listen instead of insisting that you’re always right. It’s not that hard to choose an alternative response – once you become aware of your automatic reactions. It’s impossible otherwise.

The best shield for protecting yourself from a perceived attack is recognising that the attack is taking place in your mind. Let’s not confuse this with physical attacks on your body. If you value the health of your body, move it out of harms way. If you find yourself with people who want to hurt your body, it’s time to consider why you’re hanging out with them. Time to choose new friends or ‘lovers’.

And, if you lay down your weapons, you may get a surprise. The world and the people in it look a lot different when you’re not looking at them from behind a weapon or from within a suit of armour.

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