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.

Thanks for dropping by, Peter

It’s not about invulnerability

A few words from The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman.

“The peaceful warrior’s way is not about invulnerability, but absolute vulnerability – to the world, to life, and to the Presence you felt. All along I’ve shown you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is the warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.”

sword_samurai

In my experience, this is hard lesson to learn. I know I thought the way of the warrior was all about invulnerability, being able to withstand the inevitable assaults of life. All that training I received about needing a ‘thick skin’- another term for armour – to protect myself from the realities of the harsh world we live in, was a lesson I had absorbed as a boy. I thought warriors were able to maintain their composure no matter what was thrown at them, because their training helped them become invulnerable.

That might work on the battlefield, when the other guy is trying to slice you in half with his sword. Trouble is, once we adopt the warrior stance, we take the same attitude into other aspects of our lives. If your guard is always up to maintain your invulnerability, and nothing gets through, it’s impossible to cultivate intimacy in any of your relationships. You let no-one touch you and you touch no-one, except to strike them down.

I’m sure you’ve encountered some of these warriors along the way. I know I have; and I was one in my younger days. These are the people who can’t be told anything, because they are too busy defending to listen. These are the ones that don’t feel anything, when everybody else is falling apart around them, because they can’t risk being taken advantage of by showing a weakness, like sadness or joy. They’re also the ones who don’t share anything of themselves, in case you detect a weakness in their armour and exploit it to your advantage.

At some point, the books I found myself reading, contained a different message. I realised that although I was good at invulnerability, I was not good at intimacy. With some loving help, I started to see that I had it all back to front, that I had blundered down the wrong path. I discovered that I could choose the pathway of the peaceful warrior, and take up a different sword on a very different field – the field of possibilities.

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior is one of the recent books I’ve read, but it’s been around since 1980.  You can explore Dan Millman’s philosophy at www.peacefulwarrior.com .

If you’re really looking to transform your mindset from invulnerability to vulnerability, I suggest you spend some time with a new book called Daring Greatly by Brene` Brown. Check out her website at www.brenebrown.com .

Thanks for dropping by,

Peter