We get attacked. That’s a reality of life. Somewhere, at some time, someone is going to come after us. We’ve going to get cut, clobbered or end up with an assorted collection of contusions. Sometimes the intentions of those that hurt us are misdirected, and at other times they’re completely intentional. Sometimes the actions of others are the stuff of mindless impulse and therefore kind of shot-gun in their intention. At other times the actions of others are completely malicious, being viciously planned and savagely implemented. There are times when the actions of others are based on an errant understanding of events or circumstances, being tragic mistakes and gross misfires. At others times the intent is simply to hurt so the nature of the precipitating event is altogether irrelevant, other than being a product of cruelty and by-product of selfishness. When these things happen, we naturally respond. Yet, what does our response say?
Obviously we respond. We respond to a whole bunch of things in a whole bunch of ways. Oddly, our response is often not analyzed because we assume it to be normal or appropriate given whatever it is that we’re responding to. If we do in fact analyze our response, it’s often because we thought that our response was too pensive and tentative, or we thought it was a too bit robust and overwhelming. In other situations, we might think that our response was completely misdirected or somehow inappropriate given the situation. Then there are the situations where we feel that we shouldn’t have responded at all when we did in fact respond, or we chose not to respond when we should have.
However we respond, we respond. Whether that’s a response that’s thought out or thoughtless, we respond. Our focus then tends to be solely on our response, whether it’s a good response, a bad response, or a rather irrelevant response. It seems that we tend to analyze our response instead of analyzing what our response says about us. There’s this crafting, managing and executing of our response, but really nothing about what the response tells us about us. We might be wise to quit looking solely at the response, turn things over on their backside, and ask what our response says about us. What does the nature and type and kind of response say about who we are? What does the intensity and direction and flavor of our response suggest about who or what we are at our core?
A Bit of Analysis
Fulke Greville wrote that “No man was ever so much deceived by another as by himself.” That should create a whole lot of caution within each of us. Of all the people that we interact with, it is ourselves that we should be analyzing the most. We really can’t afford to live our lives walking in the darkness as if the darkness is the only thing that we can walk in. We can ill-afford to do things like some brainless simpleton, assuming that doing them is just doing them. Truth be known, we’re much, much more complex than that.
There’s a tendency in human behavior to respond without asking why we’re responding the way that we are. Maybe it’s something primitive, something that has to do with the whole concept of fight verses flight. When it comes to survival, we don’t necessarily have the luxury of stepping back and pondering what we’re doing. Or maybe it’s more about convenience; that stopping and thinking and contemplating takes time and energy, and maybe in the rush of it all, it’s just messy and inconvenient. Or maybe we don’t really want to understand why we’re doing what we’ve doing. Maybe that will uncover some less than complimentary things about us that we’d prefer not to know. Yet, we need to know.
What Our Responses Reveal
Often our responses reflect our deep-seated, gnawing insecurities. In some instances those insecurities result in a response that’s wildly disproportionate and entirely over the top. In responding like that, we insure that whatever or whoever’s attacked us is sufficiently repelled or annihilated altogether. At other times we don’t respond at all, fearing that if we do we’re likely to incur further attacks or more abuse. So we run and we hide.
Sometimes are responses are entirely misdirected, misallocated and misapplied; in other words it’s all reflexive and nothing of reflection. We may not have the maturity to fully understand exactly what happened to us and why it happened to us. We may not have developed the depth of intellect, insight and the balance of maturity to render a response that’s appropriate to the offense. So, if our response is rather wild, we might be immature.
We do tend to be an impatient lot. Impatience simply means that we want some sort of result in the ‘right now.’ Impatience means that we forfeit thinking in favor of doing. We forfeit gathering data in favor of doing the deed. We strike out instead of strategize. Our impatience drives us to an immediate, reflexive action that will likely serve to enflame a situation that we’re attempting to douse. If our response is knee-jerk, we’re likely impatient.
Many times our response is deliberately directed to meet our need or serve our agenda. In the fuming mindset of retaliation we take little if any time to consider the collateral damage of our choices. Nothing happens in isolation. If we ignorantly act as if that were the reality, we’re simply slogging around in the egocentric backwaters of selfishness. If our actions are all about self-preservation and they spurn the common good, we’re likely selfish.
Most of the time, our responses will challenge our ethics and our morals. When we respond to an attack, the most devastating, brutal and agonizing responses are likely unethical. If we really want to ravage someone and leave the landscape of their lives scorched and barren, that action will probably be immoral, or so close to immoral that we’d be stupid to engage it. If we really want to wail on somebody and drive them so far into the ground that they’ll never crawl out, we’ll probably have to stuff our ethics, turn a blind eye and live with the guilt of it all for the rest of our lives.
What Our Responses Say About Us
Don’t just respond, even though that’s the easy thing to do. Ask what your response says about you. Let your responses cause you to respond to you. Ask the hard questions. Do the tough analysis. Face yourself. You will be a better person who leaves behind a better world even when that world attacks you.