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Feel The Defensiveness And Do It Anyway

There is a saying that advises us to “feel the fear and do it anyway”. I find this phrase both annoying and inspiring. I am irritated at the suggestion that I should not use fear as a reason to avoid taking difficult or uncomfortable actions. Fear is a stellar excuse to stay in bed and pull the covers up over your head to avoid the risk of failure. Besides, doesn’t the feeling of fear serve a crucial purpose: to alert us to impending danger? In actuality, the degree and causes of the fear are important to consider. Too much fear with very little justification stands in our way of getting things done in life. When I think the thought, “feel the fear and do it anyway, Katie!” I curse the truth of it and usually perform whatever action it is I was avoiding. This sometimes leads to failure and sometimes leads to success, but I always learn from it.

In a similar way, defensiveness about our parenting gets in the way of growth and learning. Defensiveness is an understandable and expected reaction to discussing your parenting. We bristle at the implication that our parenting style may not be compatible with our particular child. This stems from the fact that we parents feel responsible for our child’s behavior; the good, the bad, and the really ugly. But the reality is much more complex than that (see my blog entry, Why Blaming Parents Doesn’t Work).

For family coaching to be successful, everyone participating needs to be open to changing their own patterns of behavior. How does one go from feeling defensive and functioning in protection mode to feeling open and curious? What may help is to acknowledge feelings of defensiveness when they arise. Allow for those feelings to visit and describe them out loud. Share the thoughts and bodily sensations that accompany defensiveness. You may even want to write them down on paper. Don’t throw it out; fold it up and set it aside for now so you can proceed without the weight of it on your shoulders.

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