Do you ever noticed that you spend much time defending people? A spouse, a friend or a family member may be someone that you spend time and energy defending to others. Have you ever asked yourself why you are defending that individual?
I have spent a great deal of time over the years defending different people and their actions to others. And I have heard clients over the years defending people in their lives. Recently, I really examined this whole idea of defending people in our lives and why we do it.
There is an endless number of possible reasons for defending someone in our lives. Perhaps they are being treated unfairly, so we defend them. Perhaps they are going through a rough patch of life, so we defend them. Perhaps they have a habit of acting badly at times, so we defend them. Wait a minute….what!?! That last one is the one that I am concerned with right now.
I am going to focus this discussion on friendships because I don’t want this post to turn into a book. We can look at other types of relationships in future discussions. I will talk about my own experiences and if they resonate with you, give it some thought. If none of this rings any bells, good for you! You are in a good place with the relationships you choose.
Over the years, I have had a number of people in my life that, looking back, I realize I spent a great deal of time defending to other people. They would behave in ways that weren’t the best and I would defend them and support them. As I look back, I realized that most of them wouldn’t do the same for me and didn’t over the years. I also realized that they treated me well part of the time, but as soon as I did something they didn’t like, they were suddenly critical of me or absent from my life. So why, pray tell, did I allow this to happen? Why did I continue to participate in these relationships?
Well, first of all, in my definition of a friend, you are loyal, trustworthy, dependable and honest. You are able to be who you are and you allow your friend the same. Here’s the catch, we tend to assume that others define friendship the same way we do. And we proceed with a friendship for months, even years, without really paying attention to what’s going on in that relationship. We may notice negative things from time to time, but we defend those things (even to ourselves) and keep going. Eventually, the relationship may end and we still will defend that person. At this point, this gets into how we feel about ourselves.
Once we have identified that someone is not like us and may not be such a great friend, why do we still defend them? We are defending ourselves. We are defending that we chose them as a friend and allowed them to behave how they do/did. We are trying to say that we didn’t make a mistake, we weren’t wrong about them. Maybe we weren’t wrong and we didn’t make a mistake. It’s okay if and when a relationship changes or ends. If we are secure in who we are, then we allow them to be who they are, acknowledge this didn’t work out and move on. If we keep them in our lives, we acknowledge that we know they have some issues, but the good points outweigh the bad. We don’t have to DEFEND them or ourselves.
As I continue through life, I am getting more selective in the people I call “friend” and I find that I am not defending people so much. If they do something I don’t like, I simply acknowledge that and move on. If others say something about that person, I tell them to take it up with the person in question and I don’t try to explain or “defend”. This has improved the quality of my life. I am finding more peace and I hope you do also!