Change: It’s here to stay.

Do you play self-defeating games?

I do.

I work hard to minimize their presence in my life. The challenge is, identifying the trigger points so that the self-defeating game doesn’t become a sticking point to living wild and free in the moment of now. Expressing myself with integrity, compassion and love. Moving with grace and ease no matter how harsh the winds or scared I feel to get real.

Recently, my beloved and I were deep in a conversation we’d started based on a question we’d drawn from the box of Deeper Talk cards that sits on our island, waiting for us to pull one during dinner every day.

It is a practice we both enjoy (normally – I’ll get to that part in a minute) because as the tagline on the box states, the cards are “A tool for creating lasting and more impactful connections”.

The box contains 150 prompts.grouped under six categories: Dreams. Life Lessons. Exposed. Courage. Beliefs. Self-awareness. (I also use the cards with another writer friend as a daily morning pages writing prompt )

It is this morning’s card from the ‘Exposed’ section that prompted my thoughts on self-defeating games. “What’s your instinctive reaction when someone or something hurts you?”

A very potent question.

I have lots of self-defeating games and with time and practice, I engage them less when triggered by an event or something someone said or did that causes me to want to take Flight. Fight. or Freeze.

Until I don’t.

That night, with that particular conversation, I spiralled quickly from engaging with grace and ease into sticky messiness.

I was not impressed with myself.

I was defensive, argumentaitve (for no reason other than I wanted to have the last word and get him to say, You’re right! How could I have been so wrong? πŸ™‚ )

After we finally found calm waters again, I realized that I needed to go back to what triggered my response.

Why was his assertion about whatever we were talking about causing my pulse to start racing and my mind to start squirming around looking for clever (read – sarcastic) comebacks rather than seeking harmony through listening to understand his position?

It was a bit of an awakening for me.

I realized in my self-reflection (an important component of defeating self-defeating game behaviours) that I am often triggered when I feel he is assuming a position of authority simply because of his maleness.

I recognized that my upset with his behaviour/response to the question had nothing to do with what he was saying or even his behaviour in that moment. It had everything to do with HOW I was perceiving the way he was – both saying and sitting and behaving and appearing — to be a repeat of words and conbditioning from long ago. The long ago being my childhood and into my twenties and even thirties where in the world as I knew it, I came up against the reality of the times where “Father knows best” grated against my belief we are all equal and my right to say and do and be how I want is the same as yours (the man’s) In that world of inequity. It meant all men know best, men hold the power, we women are the weaker sex and therefore, we must do as ‘they’ say — “Shut-up and be quiet. Know your place. Don’t rock the boat.” which underlay the patriarchal assertion that men are right simply because… they are men.

I realize this is not true of all men. However, I continue recognize it as part of our collective consciousness, particularly in the places where women continue to be treated as chattel and objects.

My beloved didn’t say anything ‘wrong’ during our conversation. My self-defeating game was, I have a trigger point based on past experiences and when I reacted instinctively to that trigger being pulled, I went on the attack to assuage my deeper, historic feelings of being less than, not good enough, not listened to, not – a whole bunch of nots that did not add up to my recognizing my own worth.

Yes, we still live in a world where patriarchal structures and our social conditioning continues to allow the inequities of centuries old beliefs and behaviours to undermine our recognition of the worth of all human beings.

In my relationships, my responses to that conditioning are my issue — not my beloveds. The onus is on me to calm the angry voices from the past that rise up when I see him through the eyes of ‘All men…” so that, rather than throwing bombs of discord, I create pathways to harmony, understanding and deeper connections.


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