If a muthafucka punches you in your shit and follows up with a wild flurry of haymakers, what you gon’ do? If your significant other accuses you of cheating when you’ve been completely faithful how will you respond? How about during one of those awkward moments when something you intended to be a playful joke is taken in the absolute worst possible context and the person you said it to starts to spazz on you…again I ask, how would you combat this? The answer is exactly the same in all three situations…you will defend yourself. My first example is rather extreme and more “knee jerk” than the other two because we are hardwired to instinctively eliminate physical threats to our safety by fight or flight. Although a high level definition of defense is the opposition of offense, the concept denotes a far more broad and pervasive aspect of the human experience, particularly from the standpoint of thought and behavior. Per conventional wisdom, self preservation is a universal law. At a fundamental level, we all come to understand at an early age that no one will ultimately look out for you the way you look out for yourself. Upon making this connection, we begin to maneuver through life striving to advance our self interests with this thought ever present in the back of our minds. What I find to be the object of intense intrigue is our seeming innate predisposition to present defenses of ourselves in situations that don’t necessarily warrant them. Have you ever found yourself explaining something as trivial as why you like a certain food? Perhaps you’ve found yourself making an odd purchase at a department store only to begin assuring the person ringing you out, that the item in question is not for you. I just can’t help but wonder why it is we feel the need to justify ourselves so frequently but fear not, for I certainly have a few ideas.
In many respects, the need to protect ourselves from any given intangible force is born out of fear. We don’t want to look stupid, weak, desperate, lame, the list goes on and on. For most of us the default mode of operation is to always put our best foot forward and keep it front and center come hell or high water. People are deathly afraid of being embarrassed, ridiculed, or taken advantage of…and so like rabid canines in an alley, we defend. This tendency is not relegated to any specific people, places, or things. It’s prone to manifest itself in virtually any given cipher. Part of the problem is the way that we judge each other. Generally, we base our perceptions of one another on observable behavior. The merit of the approach lies in the fact that, this is a rather effective and telling method of gauging what a person is thinking, since actions precipitate from thoughts. Competition is another variable that is more than worthy of mention. Throughout the history of humanity, even at the genetic level, the strong have been the survivors. In order for this proverbial cream to rise to the top, a weeding out process must operate. As its gears turn, a measure of virtually innate sadism manifests itself, particularly in the powerful among us. Some people just get a sick thrill out of making other people miserable. Between the assholes, bullies, crooked cops, robbers, gold-diggers, and haters one can’t help but be at least somewhat guarded while maneuvering through this world.
So why else do we tend to be so edgy around one another? I’m of the mind that in many instances, it’s because we aren’t comfortable with, or confident in, ourselves. Think about it, if you’re dissatisfied with you, how can you possibly expect others to be impressed? It’s not very likely, so you don’t. This scenario wreaks of vulnerability. So we mentally lay and wait for someone to insult us or question some aspect of our persona and when they do, we’re ready to strike back. I think the key to alleviating this condition is learning to accept ourselves as we are, and others as they are. Am I suggesting that we applaud mediocrity or accept cruelty in others? Absolutely not, however, I am stating the sad fact that some people are incorrigible and insatiable. It’s impossible to please or co-exist in harmony with everybody, so why try? It’s not worth it. My advice is that people focus on cultivating self in an honest effort to eliminate bad habits, learn to love learning, and take responsibility for our microcosmic ciphers with the knowledge that they are what we make them. When we realize that all conditions are impermanent, the true power of change becomes evident, and the desire to engineer it increases. Change agents stand up!!!!!!!!!!!!!