“Too dark of eyebrows. Too dark accentuates under eye and wrinkles. Use a wand for pink highlight in inner tear duct.”
My friend of 40 years gives me helpful advice. For as long as I can remember she’s shared on everything from which type of Miracle-Gro to use in my window boxes to why Gevalia coffee was an essential morning brew. She is a great researcher with as much life experience than me and her expertise is based on both.
My pal loves and only wants what’s best for me. So why did I pause upon receipt of this helpful tip in a tiny text? What was it that made me want to explain?
I put it on carelessly at the last minute.
It looks much lighter in the tube.
I hate to waste, so I’m using it up.
Was I really about to use some of my precious daily energy to explain my eyebrows?
The night before we’d seen one another’s faces on our phones for the first time in months. In my time zone it was end of a long day. I’d just taken the trash to the curb. In the morning, I sent a quick selfie as evidence of my (albeit questionably better) current appearance.
There it was. My appearance. Always just a little worried about how I look to others. Do I look okay? Do I know enough? Did I do the right thing? In the quest to be seen as capable and to be loved I defend. My brain goes there before I even know it.
How many times in a day do I do this? Too many. It’s subtle. I can be gracious. And it will always take a micro bit of my energy.
Whenever I’m silently saying “I’m right/You’re wrong” by my defensiveness, I have another choice: “You’re right!” Two words. Two syllables. Said with enthusiasm.
What would it be like if I chose this response instead? Not simply when I get a helpful hint from a trusted friend, but anytime truth is spoken? When I’m in the middle of a rigorous debate with a coworker? When I see a post about the pandemic that raises my heart rate and makes a valid point?
Before I reply to the text, another one arrives.
I should have said this FIRST. You are a splendor.
My need to defend, as usual, was in my mind. It’s time to say Thank you!… another couple of words that can always be said with enthusiasm.
How open are you to personal advice?
Do you ever needlessly defend?
What feedback fears do you have?