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The battle is about the battle, not about personalities

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In court and beyond, we are offered many opportunities to react angrily to others’ seeming trespasses and lack of consideration. Some police and prosecutors try to talk uncalled-for trash about my clients. Other cars cut us off on the road. Others at restaurants and elsewhere can’t help themselves but to butt into our conversations with a nasty or nosey comment. Others lie about and distort our words and actions and threaten to harm our reputations.

My own skin has been thick for a long time — accompanied necessarily by an open heart and sensitivity to be fully aware of events at all times — but some of my criminal defense clients do get upset easily when a prosecutor does not agree to a settlement that my client wants, when a prosecutor or police officer mischaracterizes my client’s actions or level of culpability, or when a prosecutor acts contemptuous of my client. I am not going to shove down my clients’ throats my approach to thickening one’s skin, but this and other postings on my blog address that, and I can address this matter when my clients request. I do endeavor to prepare my clients in advance that the prosecutors and police might talk trash in the courthouse, and that they have succeeded if that talk bends my client out of shape.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — long small of physical stature and quiet of voice volume but a giant in intellect in drive — sums it up well, that it helps to be a little deaf of others’ unkind words. Otherwise, we will go into the very emotional tailspin that our opponents want.

We have a choice either to keep our eyes on the prize of what we have set out to do for that day, in the current battle, and for our whole life; or to let ourselves get distracted by others’ seeming or actual trespasses.

That does not mean to ignore others’ bows and arrows. A person is foolish to be impassive when someone is about to shoot an arrow at the person. However, the best way to deal with that arrow is with a combination of battle readiness, non-anger, and non-reactivity. When we face imbalance, the goal is to avoid, neutralize, deflate, or eliminate the threat, and never to get bent out of shape about the threat. We can win by owning the outcome.

In addition, others’ seeming trespasses can be learning moments. If someone is talking trash about me, I can consider if any part of that communication is actually a helpful assessment about how I can do better. In the alternative, the trash talk might be based on a misperception that I might want to correct. If the trash talk is about one of my strongly held convictions that I convey in my blog or elsewhere, then expressing strongly held convictions inevitably will result in strong reactions from some people who disagree.

If we truly create our own world — which makes sense to an extent — the seeming and actual trespasses of others should not get our goat anymore than we should get angry at stepping in freshly-laid dog poop. When we step in dog poop, we can change our shoes if we have an extra pair, while removing the dog poop or letting it first dry, and can ask ourselves how better we can avoid the dog poop next time.

If there is no out there for the mind, then others’ actual and seeming trespasses should ordinarily be simple for us to resolve rather than becoming obsessions.

Life is never stagnant and moves along like a river, and sometimes a rushing river at that. The person who aims a slingshot at us today can be turned around tomorrow or many years from now, whether through our planting seeds for them to change themselves, their perception or their views; or through a more rapid turnaround. Today’s opponent can become our ally in tomorrow’s fight. Today’s friend might become our opponent later on down the road. Consequently, when dealing with actual and potential adversity, it is better to take personalities out of the equation.

With all that said, actual and potential battles surround us. We have no choice but to be battle ready at all times — not paranoid about possible battles or threats — but battle ready.