Let go of the need to defend your position.
don Miguel Ruiz
It happens so easily to all of us. We suddenly find ourselves in the middle of a highly spirited discussion and discover that we are face to face with an opposing or alternate perspective and so we automatically step into the role of “defender” of our position, digging in our heels...gently at first and then with increased vigor...as we set out to convince others of our point of view.
What is it that encourages and even entices us to go for the “win”? What is it that is driving this behavior that is so prevalent...and even predictable in the human psyche?
And, while we ponder that, imagine how disarming it would be to encounter an individual who has no need to convince everyone of the validity of his position, no need to be recognized by everyone as holding the "right" answer.
I had my own personal encounter with a situation like this a few years ago during a holiday gathering at our home. It was a very subtle experience but later I strongly felt the significance of the moment.
Several people had been invited over for the holidays and we were chatting happily and enjoying the interchange. I am not sure how we landed on this topic, but someone introduced the subject of
The Ides of March.
At that point, I enthusiastically interjected myself into the conversation, remarking that I happened to know that The Ides of March fell on March 12th and that I knew this because The Ides of March was the birthday of a good friend of mine with whom I had worked. One of our guests commented that The Ides of March was actually on March 15th. At this observation, I strongly asserted that I was certain it was the 12th and that I had a memory of holding a very specific intention to recall that particular date. After my interjection our guest declined to assert his belief that March 15 was the date in question and the group moved on past the consideration of the event’s date to its actual meaning.
By the way, Wikipedia describes The Ides of March as "a day in the calendar notable for the Romans as a deadline for settling debts."
This little incident was long forgotten by me until a few months later on March 15 when I happened to hear a commentator announce that it was The Ides of March.
Oooooops! I thought and looked online to verify this unexpected piece of information. As I absorbed the correction, two thoughtscircled in my brain. The first was: How did I ever confuse this date and become so convinced that I had it right? The second was: What a considerate
guest we had hosted at our home that evening during the holidays. The visitor had obviously known his information was right and yet he chose not to make a point of debating this with me in front of the others.
This gesture of his felt important to me. I saw this behavior as evidence of his generosity and thoughtfulness and I made a point of telling him so the next time we spoke.
How refreshing it had been to engage with someone who was not harboring a strong competitive need to prove his point. And, on the fifteenth of March, the point was made for itself quietly and with no aggressive fanfare.
This choice of action of our guest that night most certainly revealed his honoring and understanding of human emotions. Giving me the opportunity to learn for myself what I did not know was actually very profound. He clearly saw that the date itself was not the primary issue and neither was emerging as the person who had all of the answers.
He had no need to engage in a battle of rightness; he just wanted the opportunity to plant the seed of what he knew to be true.
This individual was obviously able to enter into a moment and quietly leave his gentle signature on it, inviting others to engage with the information in the perfect moment for them. No need to defend...just a subtle awareness and affirmation of how we learn best when we are in the most relaxed and curious frame of mind.
What a splendid idea! No “debt settling” of The Ides of March...rather just an eloquent exploration.