How can I stop being defensive?
Are you too defensive for your own good? 6 characters who you are
You may think that defending yourself quickly is good, but the reality is that it is not always the case. People who grow up loved and supported are usually not defensive unless threatened. They defend themselves in life when need be, but they are not defensive because the world they see is a world where they have a safe place and feel safe that they can find their way.
This does not mean that this bonded person will not suffer or fail because they will. It's just that when it happens, they don't falter. But if a child's emotional needs are not met in childhood, chances are they will develop an insecure style of attachment.
Adults have attachment styles too, and three types of insecure attachment styles have been described: rejecting-avoidant, fearful-avoiding, and fearfully-busy. All three styles are very defensive, some more subtle than obvious.
The dismissive avoidance has a high opinion of itself and a low opinion of others. She highly prefers her defense because she really doesn't want to be in relationships that have any depth. She is an "easy" girl when it comes to connections. (Yes, people high on narcissistic traits have this attachment style; they're well armored and very defensive.)
The fearful-avoidant, on the other hand, has a low opinion of himself and a high opinion of others; In a way, she's the girl who looks longingly at the pastries in the shop window but is too scared to actually want one. Her defense has to do with her fear of being hurt and abandoned.
It is the third type of insecure attachment style that anxiously preoccupied, where steroid-based mortality tends to create all kinds of drama, much of which is destructive to relationships. The person with this attachment style wants and needs to be in a relationship, but has no sense of boundaries; She is dominated by her fears and is constantly on the lookout for signs that she is being scammed or fired. But they don't turn those fears into a quiet puddle. instead, they galvanize their defenses and anger.
Former friends, lovers, and spouses likely describe their relationship with her as constantly volatile and more like a roller coaster ride than not. As exhausted as she is from her own caution and defense, it is just as exhausting to be around. Indeed, researchers have indicated that their constant concern for the state of the relationship turns out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy; Many partners are just fed up with the drama. (See my book for more information. Daughter detox.)
6 signs that defensiveness is defeating you
Of course, at some level we all need to protect ourselves and consider ourselves worthy of protection. Defending yourself - as well as your interests and those close to you - is part of the breadth of human interactions, and we are determined to respond in times of physical danger. Ancestors aside, being able to defend yourself psychologically and emotionally is obviously a very good thing - especially if you are treated unfairly, verbally abused, or apprehended.
But there is a huge difference between a sensible defense and overreacting to almost any situation or cue. If you wonder about your behavior or find that your upbringing has shaped you in less than positive ways, think about how often you find yourself in the following situations.
1. You are always on the lookout for signs of exclusion. One woman wrote:
"I pay attention to the order of the invitations, even in the office or with my friends. Am I invited in the first, second or last wave? My best friend convinced me to go to therapy after I freaked out because I didn't go to her first She withered with the words, "I thought you would know you were invited." To be honest, it hadn't even crossed my mind.
That sounds strange, but it's not really like that when you're subconsciously always on "The Hunt for Rejection".
Imagine the following scenarios and how you would react.
- You are in a place where you are uncomfortable and you hear laughter. Do you think it's about you
- Your friend is going somewhere with a mutual friend and you have not been invited. Do you immediately feel rejected and defensive? Or do you just keep busy with it or ask your friend why you didn't receive an invitation when it bothers you?
- You called someone and left two messages and they didn't answer. Do you take the worst and worry about what you did to upset or offend him?
Unfortunately, that feeling of not belonging to childhood can become a can that you subconsciously use in adulthood.
2. Your first instinct is to be suspicious of someone's motivations. Do you always assume that someone is trying to take advantage of you? Are you analyzing overtures or even kind gestures because your first thought is that the person is just being nice to get the upper hand? People who grew up in households where there was always something in return, or it was always clear that love had to be earned, often see ulterior motives where there is none.
If someone apologizes to you, can you accept that and move on, or do you stay in a defensive crouch? Sometimes the effects of childhood penetrate into the little details of life.
3. You read ambiguities in situations and then become obsessed with them. Many insecure and fearful people are often triggered by hints and gestures that they are not even aware of when they experience them. Let's say you're always nervous in large gatherings, but your job requires you to attend some of them. On this occasion, you see a coworker with someone you don't know and move on.
Just before you say hello, your colleague will turn and walk the other way with the person he's talking to. Do you feel insulted or do you assume that your colleague was so involved in the conversation that he didn't even notice that you were coming over? Be honest about how you would react.
Similarly, does your imagination fill the gaps when someone doesn't respond as enthusiastically or wholeheartedly as you expected? Or do you answer vaguely about the plans you have suggested for a meeting? Again, this can be another sign that your anxious, busy demeanor is getting in the way.
4. You do not fully trust your own feelings and thoughts, but you act on them anyway. This isn't uncommon, but it's also the worst place to be: not sure about yourself and your answers, but moving forward anyway. People whose needs were not met in childhood tend to have deficits in emotional intelligence - to be flooded with negativity, unable to calm themselves, have difficulty identifying what they are feeling - and that adds to their emotional level Volatility at.
When you get triggered, you may want to use the technique I have described Daughter detox what a therapist taught me years ago and what I call Stop.Look.Listen.When you feel like you are reacting, just give yourself some mental time out Stop.
Then step back from the interaction or situation andLook while being as dispassionate as possible; Ask yourself if you are reacting to what is happening or if you are subconsciously reacting to an old trigger. Then you listen by making sure you hear the person clearly and not read anything. Back off and make sure you are thoroughly grounded in the present before speaking or acting. When you are conscious and deliberate this way, your volatility will be shorted out.
5. You never feel completely safe, but always defensive. Can a friend or lover or even a spouse reassure you, or do you always feel like you are waiting for the other shoe to fall? In my book, I tell the story of Mike and Susan, whose relationship was finally broken up by their inability to ever feel reassured that he loved them, which he did.
But what he couldn't live with was the constant drumbeat of her insecurity and how she acted when she panicked that he didn't love her. He was fed up with her calling him literally dozen of times when he warned her he was going to be involved in business meetings, or how she freaked out if he didn't answer her texts right away. No wonder he wanted more peace and quiet in his life and left.
Did this happen to you Has your constant worry and need for reassurance ever driven away friends and lovers?
6. Deep down, your defenses are fed by a stream of negative thoughts. You may feel like defending yourself is strengthening - especially when righteous anger gives you a buzz - but the sad truth is that reactivity fuels your behavior. Your own feelings of worthlessness and shame and fear of exclusion are the engines of your behavior and not a strong sense of self-worth. This is an important thing to remember.
Healing wounds in childhood is difficult, but possible. If your defenses are in your way, now is the time to address it. Working with a gifted therapist is the best way.
The ideas in this post are from my book, Daughter Detox: Recovering from a loveless mother and reclaiming your life.
Facebook image: Fizkes / Shutterstock
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