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In Defense of Self

Posted on July 21, 2018 at 2:55 PM

"I’m a fighter. I believe in the eye-for-an-eye business. I’m no cheek turner. I got no respect for a man who won’t hit back. You kill my dog, you better hide your cat". - Muhammad Ali

"Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent people ignore". - Anonymous

Do you ever spend a great deal of mental energy debating whether you should defend yourself against the actions of others? The two quotes above represent interesting perspectives on how to address a situation where we believe we have been treated wrongly by the actions of others. Now I recognize that Muhammad Ali may have changed his perspective over the years. The point here is to think about which one is your “go to” response? (After reading the blog, please share your go to response.)

I have been thinking about how we decide when to defend our self and when to let things go. Often I am quick to stand up for family, friends or a stranger, yet, when I have been treated unfairly I say nothing to that person and instead ruminate about it in my head. This leaves me feeling like I am betraying myself and I wonder why I fall into this pattern.

Unlike the young Ali, I am not a fighter. Oh, I may wish to do something but I don’t. Perhaps you respond in the same manner. I think for some of us we want to avoid conflict, or are concerned about the various stereotypes and labels placed on women who respond when unfairly criticized.

Some of us may have been taught to be quiet, not to rock the boat. Others may be concerned about the stereotype that gets attached to them if they display anger; whether that is the “angry black woman” or being called the “b-word”.

So how do we decide when to defend our self, forgive or ignore the whole matter all together?

  • Is it dependent upon the source; an internet troll versus a colleague at work, a store clerk versus our boss?
  • Is it a matter of context; the injustice harms our reputation or is a fundamental criticism what we value and believe?

Let’s consider for a moment the difference between a colleague speaking poorly of us and not receiving a well-deserved promotion. How do you defend yourself in this scenario? Do you go about speaking poorly of your colleague to anyone who will listen? Do you complain about the missed promotion? Neither of these reactions gets you any further to your goals.

In fact, these actions move you away from your goals since they are retaliatory and are based on a fear that the comments may be seen as truthful, but they are not. Responding in accordance with your truth, knowing that you are valuable, may be difficult at the moment, yet this is the best course of action. You may have to walk away, end the phone call or calmly notify the individual that you will be leaving the meeting, but this is the right action to take.

Remember you are intentionally working towards your goals. The best type of self-defence is to move the energy in a constructive way and not get caught up in the negative energy of others.

Be Strong. Loving. Fearless

Categories: Decision making, Empowerment