What do you think of when you hear the word deference? Does it have positive or negative connotations to you? The noun deference is simply defined as “humble submission and respect”. Personally, I’ve been battling with this word my entire life.
I have three siblings, one younger than me and two older so, technically, I am the middle child. I took the role of middle child seriously and made it my duty to keep peace in the family. I deferred to my parents and my older siblings in order to avoid conflict. I deferred to my family, friends and intimate partners, not so much out of respect but because it seemed like the easier path to follow.
It was easier for me to act submissively, but it came with an edge. My deference lead to an inner disconnect and shutting down.
I buried my true voice and suppressed my inner power. From a yogic perspective, you could say that through deference, my chakra body was thrown out of balance and for this reason, I was not a happy camper. I carried a thick crusty layer of inner and outer tension.
My energetic imbalances propelled me on a disjointed life path. My habit of deference held me back from my true potential and swayed me from unearthing my genuine dharma. Discovering yoga in my late twenties was my saving grace.
After years and years of practicing yoga and studying yogic philosophy, I have slowly chipped away at my hardened, buried layers of deference. Yoga has taught me to pay close attention to my energy body so that I can notice the difference between deference as a choice of humble submission and respect or just an old habit of tuning out and shutting down.
If I am not meeting another person from a place of inner veracity and honesty, it has an immediate effect on my energetic state. It just doesn’t feel good. It feels as hot and sour as telling a lie. It creates an overall feeling of tension. And I’ve very recently observed that I no longer have the desire or the energy to revisit this past template of deference.
Now the hard work for me lies in choosing to practice deference when it’s appropriate and non-harming to myself, and finding the courage to back away from deference when it masks my truth and leaves me feeling energetically drained.
Have you had similar experiences of deference in your life?