The Art of the Healthy Guard: Don't Get Stuck Playing Defense
PUTTING UP A GUARD IN THE BEGINNING PHASES OF ANY RELATIONSHIP IS A SMART THING TO DO.
Think about it.
If you spend years building a beautiful, magical castle, surely you would want to protect it from unwanted trespassers or guests who will trash it. You would hire the most diligent guards, you would install the most expensive security system, you'd ask people to remove their shoes on their way in.
shoot - if I was a princess with her own beautiful, magical castle, I'd go pick me out the most loyal dragon to watch out for me while I enjoy the precious life I've created for myself.
I DEFEND MYSELF SO I CAN FOCUS ON LIVING MY BEST LIFE, WHAT I LIKE TO CALL "PLAYING OFFENSE."
A LOT OF US ARE STUCK PLAYING DEFENSE. WE ARE SO FOCUSED ON MAKING SURE WE GUARD OURSELVES PROPERLY THAT WE FORGET THAT THE GUARD IS JUST A PROTECTIVE MEANS TO AN ULTIMATELY GREATER END: FULFILLING OUR LIFE'S PURPOSE.
And love, if you are on this site, there is no way you believe that your life's purpose is to play defense.
Let me give you another, perhaps more realistic analogy. in basketball, the "pick" or "screen" is a defensive mechanism used by the offensive team to ensure they can run a play and ultimately score while on offense. let's say the point guard has the ball and wants to drive and score. one of their teammates will run up and use their body to block the person defending the point guard, ultimately enabling the point guard to best leverage his/her offensive position without worrying about anything but his/her ultimate goal: making that lay-up and scoring his/her team some points.
AS WE CAN SEE IN BOTH EXAMPLES, A GUARD IS ONLY HEALTHY AS A MEANS TO HELP US PLAY OFFENSE, TO HELP US FOCUS ON OUR FOCUS: living out our purpose.
keeping a healthy guard can get confusing though. especially because those of us who have come to understand our worth are often the most guarded of the bunch. and that makes sense, doesn't it?
the more valuable we know ourselves to be, the more wary and protective we should be of whom or what we allow in our space. the prettier our castle, the fiercer the dragon. the better our team, the stronger our defense needs to be.
CLEARLY, I AM IN SUPPORT OF THE GUARD. I WOULD NEVER ADVISE SOMEONE TO LET THEIR GUARD DOWN PREMATURELY. BUT THERE IS AN UNHEALTHY, SELF-DESTRUCTIVE, TOXIC WAY TO BE GUARDED.
HOW DO WE KNOW IF OUR GUARDS ARE HEALTHY?
in simple terms, ASK YOURSELF this:
ARE MY BEHAVIORS CALMLY REINFORCING MY SELF WORTH, STRENGTH, SELF-LOVE AND ENABLING MY GOD-GIVEN GIFTS, OR ARE THEY SCREAMING "PLEASE DON'T FIGURE OUT HOW [WORTHLESS, AFRAID, HOPELESS, INSECURE] I REALLY AM?
WE ARE EITHER GUARDING OURSELVES OUT OF FEAR OR OUT OF LOVE, THERE IS NO IN BETWEEN.
HERE IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE IN BOTH WORLDS:
GUARDING OUT OF FEAR
GUARDING OUT OF FEAR MEANS THAT we ARE stuck playing defense. we ARE SO AFRAID OF GETTING HURT, THAT we DON'T EVEN HAVE TIME to focus on what's important: our process and living out our life's purpose. we cannot guard out of love when fear is involved. it becomes a deeply personal thing, and we develop judgmental opinions of self and others in the process.
HOW DO we perceive ourselves? THINK ABOUT our RELATIONSHIPS WITH FRIENDS, FAMILY, CO-WORKERS, SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, SITUATIONSHIPS, ETC. - WHY DO we HAVE A GUARD UP? WHAT ARE our BELIEFS ABOUT LOVE AND ROMANCE AND TRUST?
IF we BELIEVE we WILL NEVER FIND SOMEONE LOYAL, LOVING AND WORTHY OF our TRUST, our GUARD IS PROBABLY UP BECAUSE we HAVE A NEGATIVE PERCEPTION OF THE WORLD, AND TO TAKE IT A BIT DEEPER, we HAVE A NEGATIVE PERCEPTION OF WHAT we'RE WORTH. we ARE GUARDING ourselves OUT OF FEAR, BECAUSE SOMEWHERE DEEP INSIDE, we DON'T BELIEVE we ARE WORTHY OF A LOVING, LOYAL, TRUSTING RELATIONSHIP.
This is why guarding out of fear is unhealthy:
we ARE SPENDING SO MUCH TIME fOCUSING ON our SECURITY SYSTEM, THAT we FORGET ABOUT THE CASTLE ALTOGETHER. SURE, we BUILD THE TALLEST FENCE TO ENSURE NOBODY CAN SEE our CASTLEs, LET ALONE ENTER, BUT IN THE MEANTIME, OUR CASTLE IS GETTING DUSTY AND RUSTY because WE ARE PAYING IT NO ATTENTION AT ALL. many of us don't even believe we have a castle worth visitinG. WE ARE FOCUSED SOLELY ON PROTECTION, not because we believe we are worthy, but because we believe we are worthless. WE DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO SEE US BECAUSE WE ARE AFRAID OF GETTING "FOUND OUT," THAT OTHERS WILL SEE US IN THE SAME LOW WAYS THAT WE SEE OURSELVES.
FOR MY BALLERS, WE ARE SPENDING A WHOLE SEASON PRACTICING OUR DEFENSE. OUR MAN-TO-MAN IS THE TIGHTEST IT'S EVER BEEN. OUR PLAYERS CAN OUT-REBOUND ANY TEAM IN THE GAME. BUT GUESS WHAT? ONCE THE BALL IS turned over to us, WE have not the slightest clue what to do with it. we can't dribble let alone drive and score.
DON'T GET STUCK PLAYING DEFENSE. DON'T FOREGO THE PROCESS FOR the sake of protection. our purpose is TOO BEAUTIFUL, POWERFUL, and IMPACTFUL FOR US TO BE SPENDING OUR ENERGY playing defense and only defense.
GUARDING OUT OF LOVE
ALAS, GUARDING OUT OF LOVE (LOVE for self and others- even those we are safeguarding from). when we guard out of love, we only play defense to BEST LEVERAGE our offense. we are so committed to our purpose, and we recognize that a guard is simply a screening mechanism to ensure nothing gets in the way of our process. it's nothing personal, it's purposeful.
IF YOU HAVEN'T GUESSED IT YET, THIS IS THE RIGHT WAY TO BE GUARDED, AND IT ALL STARTS WITH HOW WE VIEW OURSELVES.
we've SPENt SO MUCH ENERGY AND EFFORT INTO GROWING OURSELVES INTO GREAT PEOPLE. WE ALSO RECOGNIZE THAT WE ARE GOING TO KEEP GROWING INTO WHO WE WERE CREATED TO BE. WE PRACTICE SELF-LOVE and SELF-CARE IN ORDER TO REINFORCE OUR SELF-WORTH EVERY DAY. we have a greater appreciation for our process and that is why we are so protective of it. we are laser-focused on our purpose. THUS, WE HAVE ESTABLISHED EXCEEDINGLY HIGH EXPECTATIONS FOR THE peoplE IN OUR LIVES: WE HAVE RELEASED OURSELVES FROM ANY PEOPLE, OBJECTS, MINDSETS and HABITS THAT AREN'T SERVING US, and WE HAVE LEARNED TO SET HEALTHY BOUNDARIES. WHY WOULDN'T WE WANT TO SAFEGUARD THIS BEAUTIFUL WORK IN PROGRESS THAT WE have worked so hard to BECOME?
WHY GUARDING OUT OF LOVE IS THE ONLY HEALTHY WAY TO BE GUARDED:
UNLIKE THOSE OF US WHO GUARD OUT OF FEAR, GUARDING OUT OF LOVE RELIES ON THE BELIEF THAT WE are oh-so-DESERVing of LOVE. WE KNOW WE WILL FIND SOMEONE WHOSE VALUES ALIGN WITH OUR OWN, and our self-worth is so high that we are more than happy staying alone until we've found them. and we know we'll find them; WE have no doubt THAT there ARE LOVING AND TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE IN THE WORLD. our perception of self mirrors our perception of the world, after all.
WE DO NOT OPERATE OUT OF FEAR OR LACK OF SELF-WORTH OR HOPELESSNESS. WE AREN'T STUCK PLAYING DEFENSE. WE PLAY OFFENSE. WE OPERATE OUT OF LOVE, FOR OURSElves AND FOR everyone ELSE - even if THIS MEANS WE MUST LOVE OTHERS FROM AFAR BECAUSE THEY AREN'T READY FOR OUR CASTLE. WE ARE SMART ENOUGH TO KEEP THEM AT A DISTANCE, AND STRONG ENOUGH TO EXTEND OUR LOVE TO MEET THEM WHERE THEY'RE AT. YOU SEE, WHEN WE GUARD OUT OF LOVE, WE ARE ABLE TO POSITION PEOPLE IN OUR LIVES IN A WAY THAT PROTECTS OUR process, BECAUSE THE PROCESS IS OUR FOCUS.
HOW DOES THAT SOUND?
putting up a guard initially is A smart thing to do. depending on who you're dealing with, keeping a guard up for good - if you're not able to release yourself from this person entirely - may be necessary.
but we must be careful not to guard ourselves out of fear, because all we are doing is protecting ourselves from external pain while we allow our internal pain to fester and spread. we hurt others before they can hurt us; we hurt ourselves before they can hurt us. when we guard out of fear, somewhere, deep inside, we believe we deserve this INTERNAL pain.
SO, MY LOVE, IF YOU HAVEN'T ALREADY, START PLAYING OFFENSE. ACT FROM A PLACE OF POWER. CHOOSE TO GUARD YOURSELF OUT OF LOVE.
BECAUSE, AFTER ALL, WE HAVE EVERY RIGHT TO BE PARTICULARLY PARTICULAR ABOUT WHO AND WHAT WE ALLOW IN.