Maybe you snapped at someone way more harshly then you meant to. Or you took something very small and blew it completely out of proportion.
There are a million things that can trigger defensive reactions in all of us. And often, the closer we get to people and opportunities, the more likely the defense knob will soar up the scale. However, the situations in which you’ve overreacted are usually ripe with nuggets of growth points. In fact, if you follow the three tips below, you might even be able to kick some of your defensive habits all together.
1. Know That You’re Probably Not Listening
According to Dictionary.com, defensiveness is being “excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one’s ego, or exposure of one’s shortcomings.”
If this is true when defensiveness is triggered, then you’re probably listening more to your own thoughts than to the words actually being said to you. And if you aren’t really hearing what’s being said, then what exactly are you fighting against?
Whenever you find your defensive tendencies slipping into view, try take a second and zone into the convo. By focusing our attention on what’s really being said, we have a better chance at responding more appropriately with very minimal damage. As well as avoiding any future charges of relationship manslaughter.
2. You Might Have Some Old Shit To Heal Up
If you find yourself responding defensively to something, there must be a reason “why”. And since the concept of “why” deals with all things previously understood, there is likely a thought or an experience from your past that is still hurtful to you. And it’s probably causing you to respond out of proportion when situations arise in the present.
For instance, say you made a sharp joke about your friend being cheap and it hurt their feelings. And the joke really stems from you being annoyed with them for always short changing the bill at group dinners. If you’ve never addressed your feelings with them prior to the joke, then your delivery was probably out of proportion and a little terser than you meant. Thus hurting your friend’s feelings and potentially damaging your relationship with them.
Dissolving our issues directly AND from within is always better than burying them into hurtful comments later on. If you spot an opportunity to heal your shit up, always just take it.
3. You Could Be Pussying Out
History has proven that the human spirit can be incredibly resilient. However, when we find ourselves having multiple defensive responses, we essentially believe in the opposite of resiliency: that there’s no way we can address our problems head on and that passive aggressive behavior is the only way that we can really be heard. That our egos are fragile and our shortcomings are permanent. And any criticism will surely slash apart all we have ever built and we will never be able to recover.
It’s a bit dramatic right, and maybe a little tragic? Especially over a friend who just skimps out on the extra $3 at dinner for tip. So try not to be such a pussy. Try managing your emotions and finding solutions for your defensive tendencies instead. It’s rarely as much work as you think it is, and almost always shifts a negative situation into a much brighter outcome.