Bobbing and Weaving: The Dance of Justification and Rationalization
We’re not all too bad at bobbing and weaving. We’re pretty good at side-stepping and side-lining issues. We’re quite adept at cutting and spinning, doing a bit of fanciful dodging, as well as deftly running the obstacle course without getting so much as a scratch on us. We’ve learned to see things coming from a long ways away, and we’ve figured out how to duck and cover with rather amazing agility so that all that stuff rolls right by us without so much as a scratch. We get the game, we get the need to master the game, we get the need to succeed at the game, we get gamey at playing the game, and we bob and weave in order to win the game.
The Art of Bobbing and Weaving
However you want to visualize it, we have a way of trying to wriggle around or weasel our way out of a whole array of things as a critical part of playing the game. It seems that our first reaction to being confronted or being called on the carpet is to rapidly figure out a series of shrewd moves to deftly dance around the carpet. We’ve developed an engrained habitual nature where our first reflex is to deflect whatever’s been pointed at us or placed on us. Our initial intent is to figure how we get out of this, whatever this might happen to be. We deflect, we project, we place blame, we accuse, we divert and we bob and weave.
The Curse of Accountability
What we typically don’t do is to evaluate our culpability. Our mindset isn’t naturally one of accountability where we step up, take what’s ours and own it. We aren’t necessarily blessed with a pressing sense of responsibility, and we’re rather lax when it comes to developing an awareness that we’re answerable to the choices that we’ve made. We aren’t particularly prone to own what’s ours; to settle up when we’ve screwed up, fess up when we’ve faltered, and mop up when we’ve messed up. Rather, we bob and weave.
Instinctually, it seems that our more natural and deep-seated inclination is to try and figure out how to get out of something. That knee-jerk reaction seems to be our first response and one to which we quite often become feverishly dedicated. In fact, sometimes we’re so fixated on our efforts to avoid responsibility or circumvent taking accountability that we become blind to anything other than that. If our efforts are less than effective, we can shrewdly raise the stakes by smoothly presenting an endless array of colorful rationalizations and tediously crafting a mind-boggling and rather tangled web of sordid justifications. If that doesn’t work sufficiently, we can engage in the more base practices of blame placing, counterfeiting, distorting, manipulating and straight-up lying. It’s all about bobbing and weaving.
Bobbing, Weaving and Immaturity
Part of our difficulty in being responsible and accountable seems directly related our level of maturity or immaturity. There’s something about immaturity that causes us to instinctively move to a rigorously defensive posture when faced with difficulties or challenges. There’s an automatic and frequently overriding assumption of danger or threat that may or may not be a reality. With a singular focus on danger and not enough maturity to see anything else and subsequently craft any other response except self-preservation, we nervously work to protect ourselves at all costs. The actual nature of what faces us and our responsibility or accountability in it is rendered nearly invisible in light of the blindingly greater goal of protecting ourselves because that’s the only agenda that we see.
Maturity is the seasoning of the person to the fullest manifestation of the person. It is the life-long and sometimes arduous process of intentionally maximizing the abilities, resources and talents of the individual so that everything that the individual is comes to its fullest fruition. Maturity is what rises out of the flames of adversity. It’s the inborn product of outward experiences. Maturity is the thing born of the searing wounds, the blistered feet, the hands worn raw and bloodied, and the inescapable exhaustion of living life without working to escape the living of life. It’s out of this maturity that we are able to move away from the singularly primitive response of self-preservation, and entertain a host of potential options which can be infinitely more rich, expansive and enlivening. Without maturity, we bob and weave.
Bobbing, Weaving, Ethics, Value and Morals
Sometimes bobbing and weaving is nothing more than a character issue. It may rest in selfishness, self-centeredness, varying degrees of rancid narcissism, and a tainting dash of ego here and there. It’s the attitude of self that’s interminable driven by such pathetic questions as “what’s in my best interest, what course of action is going to get me the most of whatever it is that I want, what’s going to put me in the best light or advance my agenda the furthest?” It’s about the tedious strategy and the uncompromising prioritization of the brass ring that unflinchingly dictates any and all decisions. So, if bobbing and weaving most effectively gets me to my goal, let’s have at it. Conversely, if I can get some real and sustainable mileage out of the whole accountability and responsibility thing, let’s be accountable and responsible. Too often the whole “what’s in it for me” mentality becomes the ethic, which is not an ethic but a selfish orientation subversively clothed in the garments of ethics.
Ethics, morals and values stand as uncompromising compasses. They are their own authorities. They are not bent by opinions, twisted by objectives, contorted by agendas or modified by any criteria. They become the goal. They are the agenda. They are the only true north in world with compasses that point in whatever direction is deemed most convenient, or most self-serving, or most politically correct. Ethics, morals and values shape everything else and are not shaped by anything else. Bobbing and weaving are methods and maneuvers by which we bend ethics, water down morals, and parse down values to serve our agendas. Without ethics, morals and values, we bob and weave.
Bobbing, Weaving and Bad Habits
In some instances, bobbing and weaving is simply the stuff of habit. Habit is simply a behavior that’s become so natural that we do it without even thinking about it. The hidden danger in a habit is that, in time, the habit is presumed as normal and healthy. The behavior becomes so habitual that we never take the time to question the habit. We never think to pause long enough and think about what we’re doing and the exact nature of whatever it is that we’re doing. Habit moves the action beyond evaluation. We just go about the business of doing it. And when this becomes the nature of our business, we better believe that our business will embrace a whole bunch of bobbing and weaving.
So, somewhere along the line we’ve picked up the habit of bobbing and weaving. Maybe it was modeled for us in the actions, behaviors and attitudes of our parents or some other adult figure. Maybe it was something that our friends did so we just melded right into their patterns as part of the gang. Maybe it was taught to us along the way by a professor, or it was pressed upon us by a boss, or it’s been modeled by the incessant tides of our culture, or it’s been embedded in us by some wayward mentor. Maybe it was just the course of whatever business we were in so we presumed it as nothing more than “business.” Whatever the case, it became habit and it escaped a solely needed scrutiny. If we let it be a habit, we will bob and weave.
We are Not Designed for Bobbing and Weaving
You may want to take a personal inventory and ask what you’re doing. You might have learned how to bob and weave with a superb degree of dexterity. Indeed, many of us have become quite proficient at this sordid dance. But in the bobbing and weaving, we will bob and weave past priceless opportunities for growth, precious possibilities of all kinds, and we will wholly forsake opportunities to stand up and force all lesser things to stand down. We will become terribly compromised people living out a terribly compromised life of perpetual avoidance.
We are not designed to bob and weave. This is nothing of who or what we are at our deepest core. In the sometimes insanity of life and living, bobbing and weaving is our humanity repeatedly surrendering to something that’s vastly inferior to us. Rather, we are undeniably designed for battle, and we are matchlessly equipped for victory in battle. We are designed to grow in the face of adversity and not in the flight from it. We are far more than bobbing and weaving would ever cause us to be. We are built to seize and not side-step. Ingrained in us is the ability to own what’s ours, to settle up when we’ve screwed up, to fess up when we’ve faltered, and to mop up when we’ve messed up. That is who we are. In doing these things, bobbing and weaving will find no place in a life within which it should never find a place in the first place.
© 2014 Craig Lounsbrough, M.Div., Licensed Professional Counselor
Used by permission of the author.