How Defenselessness Can Bring About Peace of Mind
guest post by Carol Howe
We cannot hear too many that defensiveness does not make us safe; quite the contrary.
Many disciplines remind us that only when we are open and accepting, rather than closed and suspicious, are we truly safe.
Long ago my husband and I had an opportunity to put this philosophy to the test, one I will never forget. We were on a tour of several South American countries, including Ecuador.
In those pre-internet days, magazines were a major source of news and information, and as we planned our trip, I remembered reading in National Geographic about a tribe of indians, dubbed the Colorado Indians, that lived only in a small area of Ecuador and nowhere else in the world.
These indians were so named because they painted themselves up with red berry juice (Colorado in common usage means “colored red” in Spanish). Since we were from Colorado, it seemed like a great idea to find these name-sake Colorado indians and have a look for ourselves.
After we had settled in and done a day or two of local sight-seeing, we rented a little Volkswagen, got the insufficient directions available about the indians’ whereabouts and headed off on the two hour, utterly harrowing drive from the city of Quito, situated at more than 9,000 feet down to sea level and the jungle home of our indians.
Of course, there was hardly a sign that said, “This way to Colorado indians,” so we followed as best we could the meager directions given at the hotel. Finally we were successful, and turned from the “highway” onto the narrow and nearly invisible dirt trail into the alleged jungle home of our indians. The already narrow road became even more so and the thick foliage brushed the sides of our little car as we twisted and turned onward to who knew what!
We peered into the underbrush and any little clearings that presented themselves as we proceeded but not a single sign of an indian. There were no turns or intersections in this jungle so no possibility of an inadvertent wrong turn.
And we felt sure we had followed the directions and were in the right place.
Then, we made what was to be our final left turn, and to our dismay, up ahead of us was an open clearing, a swampy mess with the road literally ending in the swamp with thick trees beyond and on both sides. Since we were literally encased in jungle foliage, there was not an inch available to negotiate a turn-around.
Then suddenly out of nowhere, six Ecuadorians - not the indians we had traveled to find - appeared on the right side of us some yards away with very large machetes in hand. I’m sure they were stunned and alarmed to find us in their midst.
Before we even had a chance to consider our dilemma and what to do about it, my husband, a tall, blond, handsome blue-eyed man, who probably appeared to hail from another planet to these small native men, instinctively hopped out of the car with a smile on his face and confidently walked toward these fellows as if he were going next door to visit his favorite neighbors.
I watched with fascination and relief as these men visibly relaxed, dropped their weapons, and walked toward my husband with growing smiles on their faces, as well.
He pointed toward the car, obviously in need of assistance, and these six fellows plus the two of us picked up that little VW, turned it around! We all waved, smiled and were set to continue our adventure once more. But still no indians - such a mystery.
That mystery was later solved.
Shortly after commencing our trip back up the mountains to the hotel, my husband pointed to a tiny little hovel/shack some distance off the road, on a dirt plot with chickens running around in the yard and said, “I think that’s a bar. Let’s go in.”
My response was why on earth would you think that’s bar! He responded that he could see in a tiny window and it had a shelf that held several bottles on it. I suggested he go in to investigate and I would stay in the car, having had enough adventure for the day.
He entered, motioned for me to come in, and sure enough, he was right.
It was a tiny little building, probably 15 x 20 feet total, dirt floor, chickens on the inside as well as outside, three round tables, and one owner who spoke only Spanish. I told him, in what few words I knew, that we were trying to find the Colorado indians. He smiled and indicated he would be right back. Sure enough, a few minutes later he returned with an indian in tow, looking just like the pictures in National Geographic.
We all sat at the three different tables and communicated as best we could and thereby discovered that we had been in the right place but at the wrong time. It was siesta time and we were driving right through their territory, probably only yards away from them, but they were all resting and had no need to make their presence known. Quite an adventure in every respect!
Now this experience presents a graphic example of the truth that living an undefended life produces marvelous results:
Had we approached those men with fear and the presumption that they wanted to harm us, we would have implicitly sent an energetic message that they were guilty, we presumed their intent to hurt, and in effect, declaring them the enemy. And the downward spiral would have dangerously continued. Under the circumstances, deciding to pencil them in as “the enemy” would have been a very poor choice on our parts!
The dynamic at work is that all humans carry an innate sense of guilt, often unconscious, and when people are treated as the enemy or with the presumption that they are dangerous, this latent sense of guilt is activated and hostility is aroused. Presuming someone/something is the enemy becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
On the contrary, when we live openly and in a friendly manner, assuming the best about people, that too plays out with an increasingly happy and enjoyable outcome.
That is because being open with people sends the non-verbal message that they are not guilty, they are safe to be around and that tends to bring out the best and most helpful in them.
Any time we assure anyone, verbally or energetically, that we trust them, feel safe with them and that all is well, everyone gains, no one loses and we have done our small part in adding positively to good will on the planet.
I have done this - presuming the best with strangers - endlessly in large and small ways over many years and never has it failed to have a happy outcome.
Best wishes in leaving a trail of smiling strangers behind you!