The face of Defiance! Part 1, Dr. Tiebout

When defiance comes out to play,

deep from inside of us, the damage can be devastating! The following is an excer Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, sallyatari.compt from Dr. Harry Tiebouts’ article, “THE ACT OF SURRENDERING TO THE THERAPEUTIC PROCESS”. According to this good doctor, in the compulsive over-eater (or any addict), there are two qualities which are characteristic of their personality:  Defiant Individuality and Grandiosity. Today, I would like to look at defiance because it is one of the last and most dangerous vestiges of my own illness – it still peeks its ugly head out and I’m hoping to decode what is going on and once and for all, lay down this character defect. Perhaps you have seen defiance peek its head out in you as well. If, like me, you have spent years of ‘falling off the wagon’ and landing back in the food, bingeing, you too may have this defect! It’s dangerous and I believe it’s our ‘self-will’ rising up and in many cases, it’s our coping mechanism for the corrosive thread of fear (born of anxiety) that drives so much of what we do and say; ultimately, it’s defiance that has led me back to the edge of the cliff,  back to self-reliance and then, to the food.

I have treated defiance like it was an adorable two-year-old within me.  My own grandson, Luciano, comes to mind. I think of that face he makes when he lowers his chin and raises his eyes in such a way that he appears defiant; he actually looks like a bull in a bull-fight preparing to attack! He does this when he’s scared and angry. As a spectator of Lu, when he makes this Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, face, one wonders, ‘Uh-oh, what’s coming?’ Is he going to hit some one? Scream? Get crazy? He looks, suddenly hardened and slightly
‘evil’ if it were possible. But no, he’s playing and it’s short-lived.But as an adult,
my defiance is seasoned and dangerous mostly to me and in how I respond to it when it rears its head! My defiance has led me to the edge of the cliff many times
‘Cliff Walking’ posted December 20, 2014). I knew I was walking on the edge and about to lose my precious abstinence and even, recovery. The food is neutral, it’s not in response to the allergy and it’s not about marbles of thoughts rolling around. It’s me, shooting myself in the foot, creating crises, playing with my disease. I didn’t want to take any drastic measures, I didn’t want to do anything different!

But of course, that’s the definition of insanity! Doing the same thing and expecting different outcomes. Deep inside, I knew, despite all the ego and grandiosity of being a leader to so many others, that I wasn’t being rigorously honest and I was sloppy (albeit with abstinent foods).  Sloppy enough that I was  scared and I knew I was cliff walking. And so, I am so much like my two-year old grandson, self-willed at times. He needs his parents to deal with his defiance which could hurt him and others.  I need the God of my understanding to protect me from my self-will and self-reliance (born of anger and fear) as well! We need strategies to deal with defiance!

“Defiance masquerades as a very real and reliable source of inner strength and self-confidence, since it says in essence, ‘Nothing can happen to me because I can and do defy it.’ . . . It is the main resource of the chin-up and unafraid type of adjustment and, as a temporary measure, it helps people over many rough spots.” (Tiebout).  Doesn’t this sound like self-reliance? (BB Pg. 68). It’s our instinct! Our security instinct is threatened! (See ‘The Herd Instinct.’) Then you get defiant (I have to stand up for myself, to protect myself). This may be true, that it helps people over the rough spots, but for myself, defiance as a tool for overcoming and for garnering bravery (chin-up), it doesn’t work! Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines defiance this way: it includes a refusal to obey something or someone, the act of challenging. Defiance is Self-will run riot and the fuel for both is ego and there is nothing good that comes from this mind-set.

 Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,, sallyatari.comDefiance and Denial are two sides of the same coin. The root of both defiance and denial are anxiety and fear.  “If you DEFY A FACT AND SAY IT IS NOT SO, and you can succeed in doing so unconsciously, you CAN EAT TO THE DAY OF YOUR DEATH, forever denying the imminence of that fate.  [Defiance] is a trustworthy shield against truth and all its pressures.” (Tiebout) What I’m learning right now is to embrace change and specifically, behavior modification. Defiance tells me, I don’t have to weigh and measure my food, that I’m ok ‘trusting my instincts’. But I’m not. My ego (which stands for) ‘easing God out’, leads me to cocky behaviors; old behaviors. I’ve prayed about this and I’m convinced that I need to weigh and measure everything and not ‘wing’ it!  This is where my ego  (I think I know what’s best!) and self-will (fueled by defiance and denial)  take control – ‘all action is born in thought’. And this mind-set leads, in most cases, to sneaky and secretive behaviors and then to isolating. A sick mind can not heal a sick mind! Once in this mind-set, will-full and defiant, (12 & 12, Pg.31) a break of abstinence is imminent.

In short, defiance is a short cut to self-will and self-sufficiency. I can see clearly now that defiance is the character flaw that leads me back to cliff walking!

It’s complicated, but  simple! I have a choice each day when it comes to food addiction and this eating disorder. To be mindful that it’s defiance (self-will driven by ego) that leads me back to the cliff of sloppy behaviors  instead of developing and re-enforcing healthy behaviors with honest weights and measures. It turns out that defiance is the defining character defect that could destroy us!

Step Five in the 12 & 12 tells us, “it amounts to a clear recognition of what and who we really are, followed by a sincere attempt to become what we could be. . . our first practical move toward humility must consist of recognizing our deficiencies. No defect can be corrected unless we clearly see what it is!. . . Something had to be done about them (our defects). And we soon found that we could not wish or will them away by ourselves. . . More realism and therefore more honesty about ourselves are the great gains we make under the influence of Step Five. (12 & 12 Pg. 58)

My creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character. . . Please remove defiance! Help me to grow up! Help me to rely on you; increase my willingness to be completely honest and turn to you. “Thy will, not mine, be done!” (BB Pg. 67 and 88)

Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,,

Bio, Sally Ettari a/k/a Sally Atari, Singer and Song Writer, Blog, Music, Guitar Twelve Step Recovery, Speaker, Concert Artist,,


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7 Responses to The face of Defiance! Part 1, Dr. Tiebout

  1. Nancy

    I SO needed to “hear” this today. “…Increase my willingness to be completely honest and turn to you” is the mantra I will be saying today and tomorrow as I go about doing some very hard work this weekend. I am suffering from fear as I do some challenging work and clean up the wreckage of my past – yet it makes perfect sense how “The root of both defiance and denial are anxiety and fear.” The *root* is what I’m working on and it’s sprouting up like an ugly manifestation of defiance! Thank you, Sally, for the insight!

  2. Nancy

    Oh, don’t think I didn’t look for the “666” – hahaha

  3. Janice

    Thank you for sharing your experience, strength and hope Sally! You really have a gift of clear expression and I can totally relate to this writing. I love how you put the specific defect in the 7th Step Prayer.


      Thank you, Janice! So glad you stopped by. This blog is so much fun for me; a wonderful place to distill my thoughts and chew over things that I’m struggling with or just want to write about. Writing is such a great tool for reaching inside and looking at the heart of what is rolling around in my head. Thank you for ‘listening’ to my heart and my perspective. I hope you could identify in! Sally

  4. Inabelle Levin

    Thank you so much for these three, your valuable insights, your generosity and your compassion.

  5. Eric

    Thank you for your words. I do not believe this is 100% correct. Defiance, like all character defects, is an asset run wild. Used as an asset defiance can help a person determine what their hard-lined beliefs are. Where they will draw lines in the sand.

    Run amok, defiance can limit a person’s ability to accept what ‘is.’ The skill lies in finding the razors edge. Choosing where defiance will assist and where it will be a deficit. This is what makes a person whole.

    Denying an entire asset is as bad as denying an entire deficit. The ‘defiance’ character trait is like a dial on a switch board of traits, it needs to be set to the correct amount. Accepting everything at face value is just as bad as defying everything.

    Neither set the value to zero nor 11.

    • Sally Atari

      Thank you, Eric for these very interesting thoughts. They made me think. Statements like, “You have to surrender to Win!” and others speak volumes to the nature of 12 step recovery. I’ve spent my life (35 years now) in 12 step recovery and in Gods hands and what I believe is that we have to Cooperate with God or we won’t reach our potential. My God loves me and pursues me and will not let me wander over a cliff. Yet, He gives me free will; I have been defiant and unwilling… and here is the key! I call HIM my LORD and Savior but in the past, I have embraced the part I liked. ‘Savior’; Save me, keep me safe, provide and do for me! You are my lucky charm! That’s how I treated the Lord, Jesus, My risen savior. I wasn’t willing to call him LORD, Leader, and follow him. And that is the root of my defiance. Must it be smashed? No, I believe God made me strong willed. He said, “Come now, let us reason together!”(Isaiah 1:18) because HE didn’t create us to be computers or dumb sheep. He loves us and created us to grow to love and adore HIM because HE is so worthy of our most tender love. And I do, Love the LORD. I’m grateful that He has tenderly shown me, through a long walk in the desert, that He is my LORD and my Savior!
      Sally Atari

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