Defenses = Damage

Have I ever mentioned that I’m one of those nerdy people who listens to audiobooks in the car?  I am.  Recently, I was listening to an old Deepak Chopra book and he was discussing the concept of aging- or rather, not aging.  He stated that healthy relationships are a key to our longevity.  And when discussing how to maintain healthy relationships, he suggested letting down our defenses.  Because being defenseless is the key to being invincible (what?  Isn’t that like letting people walk all over you?).  When you are defenseless, there is nothing to attack (Oh, ok… now I get it).

In contemplating this, I am reminded of an argument I overheard several years ago…

A man and a woman were passionately disagreeing.  Judging by what they were saying, I could assume they were either recently separated or quickly moving in that direction.  At one point, the man told the woman that her behavior was inappropriate and he asked her to lower her voice.


Divorce brings out our defenses like few other experiences can.  Embittered exes frequently resort to attacking each other (and each other’s car, house, clothes, partners, extended family, etc) instead of jointly focusing on the issues to be solved.

“You’re selfish!”
“You’re frigid!”
“Your mother…”
“Your brother…”

When assaulted by such an attack (or such a perceived attack), it’s easy to shift into Defense Mode and issue a counter attack or, of course, employ a defense.

“And you’re a hypocrite!”
“I’m just not attracted to you!”
“Yeah?  Well, your mother….”
“At least my brother….”

While I’m far from being zen enough to flawlessly apply this logic to every aspect of my life, it’s easy to see how this Defenseless Philosophy can help propel a couple out of the “frying pan” and into neutral territory.

Even when the practice is only adopted by one party, the effect can be positive.  This was recently evidenced by a mother who shared her story at Co-Parenting 101 when she spoke about being The Bigger Co-Parent (even thought she’s only 5’1”).  Her story proves to us that perhaps the best defense is to conduct oneself with kindness and a peaceful disposition.


10 comments on “Defenses = Damage

  1. Chandi says:

    reminds me of an attack my ex made toward the end of our year and a half divorce process. he threw this comment at me, in an attacking say: “Well the whole marriage got messed up because YOUR DAD wasn’t supportive enough of you in that incident when you were 15 and so you expected way too much of me and it’s all your dad’s fault!”

    Now, that was a LOW blow from someone who purports to be a Buddhist. And it was really LOW because my dad did EVERYTHING for us. My ex would have walked away with NO money from the divorce if not for my parents who bought us every large thing we owned (two properties, a car, most of the furniture, the trees that were planted in the yard, the new deck, etc. etc.) My parents also gave him the only sense of real family he ever had.

    I couldn’t believe he’d be so low as to blame anything on my dad. I did not attack back and believe me his dad is the biggest loser I’ve ever met and never lifted a finger toward helping us in anyway. I certainly had “ammunition” to attack back but I didn’t.


  2. Deesha says:

    Thanks for the shout outs! I really appreciate the distinction you make: react vs. respond. That’s powerful. Thank you!

  3. Great post. As a Divorce Expert and Life Reinvention Coach, this is at the core of so much of my work. You are absolutely correct. It is so easy to forget to remember what our desired outcome really is. Rarely is it to hurt another person, most often it is to protect our pain.

    When going through divorce, we are challenged emotionally by such an enormous transition and in coping with the uncertainty and overwhelm, we often find it difficult to manage our emotions and have clarity around how we really feel.

    Thank you for reminding us of this distinction!

  4. A very important reminder and one that I have to make to myself frequently.

  5. not only in divorces, we can really use this in every aspect of life. (so long as the people concerned do not take us as push-overs and understand that the reason we’re not defensive is because we love them.)
    whatever the case, this defenseless philosophy, if used properly can be beneficial for any relationship.

    and I listen to audio books in the car too!

  6. duchessdi says:

    I just read a book written by the Dalai Lama and he said,”… it is worth reminding ourselves that what brings us greatest joy and satisfaction in life are those actions we undertake out of concern for others.” This sounds rather commonsense to me cos I’m brought up with this knowledge. I put it into practice recently by being focused on my partner, getting him to talk about things and showing my support. There was a moment where we both felt (literary) this deep connection forming and our eyes turned red… the feeling was amazing.

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