Conflict # 23 – Defensiveness

Here’s a follow-up to my post “It’s Not Personal”.

Once upon a time in our youth, when we were helpless, we built walls to protect ourselves. The walls kept us safe. We came to rely on them. And we fortified them. Then one day we wondered why we weren’t invited to parties, nor picked to play with the others, nor chosen by our peers to participate in class projects. It even seemed as if some of the kids were frightened of us. Why? We never hurt anyone. Did they dislike us?

Walls offer protection, yes. But they also say, “Stay out. Keep your distance.”

Now, human beings are social beings. Well-adjusted folks can’t tolerate long-term separation from others. They desire connection, since they don’t view others as the enemy. They do not tend to be defensive in general.

This article is aimed at those who’ve made defensiveness a habit. If that speaks to you, and you want to change that habit, I commend you. You have decided that you no longer want to be defensive. But simply telling yourself, “Stop being defensive” won’t motivate you to change. The defensiveness habit must be replaced by a productive habit. So, your question can be, “What am I going to do, instead?”

In addition, ask yourself, ‘What was my defensive behavior meant to accomplish? What emotional need was I trying to meet?’ For example the angry person might wonder, ‘What purpose has my anger served?’ He might then realize that it was meant to express outrage about his hard life and to ask people to understand his pain.

Once you’ve identified the purpose of the behavior, you can choose a new and healthy way to satisfy the emotional need. How to do that? Look at my post on Goals.

If you’re strongly motivated to leave defensiveness behind – and if you realize what the defensiveness is costing you – I can help you. Give me a call at 219-309-3928 for a free consultation. I’d be honored to be of assistance.

Thanks for reading!