Recently, I came to understand that there is a vast difference between being defensive and defending oneself. One comes from a position of lack; it says, in your body language and the tone of your voice, that you feel like less. The other comes from a position of power—not power over others, but power within yourself. Defending yourself is sometimes about the words you choose, but it can also be about the words you choose to let slide off your back. Defending yourself is about taking the offence—whether that means putting someone in their place immediately, or modeling for them the type of behaviour that you expect when they are around you. When you are defending yourself, you are demonstrating your boundaries and expectations in a big and strong way. When you behave defensively, those boundaries become very, very weak.
Having made this distinction, it became easy for me to pivot into an offensive position. Awareness is half the battle, as I like to say. And as generally happens, this pivot exposed me to a plethora of perspectives I hadn’t been aware of before. Most notably—most relevant to me and my life—came this one surprising, yet also related, realization: I had been living from the position of victim, rather than the position of owner of my life. I didn’t even know I was behaving in this way, going about my life as though I was victimized by it. Once I realized it, however, it was so easy to see how stupid I was behaving, how far from a victim I actually am, and how to better take control over myself and my attitude. It was another pivot, and one that made all the sense in the world. As I made this pivot I literally felt like I was shedding skin, becoming lighter and more free in the process.
I have been leading up to these lessons and realizations for years. I have been gradually climbing a stepladder to my own personal mountaintop for as long as I can remember. I know, cognitively, what is at the top—that is to say, I know what I am aspiring to. But while climbing, it can be hard to maintain perspective. Every time a rung breaks, every time you take a fall, whenever your limbs are too tired to continue, it can feel like a major hurtle to overcome. I always keep my mind’s eye on the prize, what Dr. Wayne Dyer referred to as “the shift,” the thing that makes your entire sense of purpose and awareness wake up as if from a heavy slumber, but when my actual eyes can’t see anything other than the rungs before me, it can lead to moments of self-doubt and even depression. Perhaps I’m a slow learner. And I do tend to overthink things. But there are lessons to be learned from needing to persevere, from needing to learn how to be patient with life. From relying on your own personal strength to see you through, to building your own endurance.
The thing about pivots is that you never know when they will come or what will spawn them. You climb and struggle and struggle and climb and then one day, a fly starts buzzing around you in an exceptionally annoying way, and whoosh out of nowhere you begin to understand from the depths of your belly that you are no longer willing to take crap from anybody, and a clear path for your life emerges. Ownership emerges. Just like that. And suddenly, after climbing all those rungs with no end in sight, you shoot straight to the top of the mountain. And the panorama is breathtaking. The ground beneath your feet is solid. The air is clear and the breathing easy.
Except, once there, you realize that you’re not at the mountaintop at all. There is a lot more mountain to go. Except, now, the paths are greener and gently sloping. The climb is pleasant rather than arduous. You can see that there are several forks in the road ahead of you, you know that there are dark corners ahead, and more pivots to be made, but when you take an offensive position in your life, when you make the choice to not be weak before the naysayers, to not be weak before yourself, and still, to be humble before the Universe, the path, however long, becomes much more pleasant to journey.