Defensiveness, A Very Bad Habit That Destroys Communication
(Photo from Relationship Realities)
Defensiveness is a powerful way to reassure yourself. Everybody does it almost every day if they have relationships. Defensiveness is a knee jerk reaction that says “Oh, no that’s not me, you don’t get what a good person I really am! I am so misunderstood.”
The irony is that the misunderstanding is usually yours, not theirs. It’s very hard to jump into the cold water of the deep end & recognize the bits that are true about your own dark side. The only way to grow & change is to do the hard work of swimming around in these very dark waters.
Defensiveness is worst than chewing your nails or pulling your hair or grinding your teeth because this bad habit stunts your soul’s ability to grow.
The opposite of defensiveness is being vulnerable, which is avoided by most people in our culture. Vulnerable is that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that says “oh,shit did I really do that?” Facing up to your mistakes & mistreatment of others is the only path there is to building character within yourself.
Defensiveness is the constant fragile rebuilding of the false reality that you have done no wrong nor ever would!
Defensiveness is creating Disneyland for the soul which is a bad idea. Bad because it obscures truthfulness (like all those smiles the land of Mickey coaxed from their employees). The soul is capable of facing hard truths & then willing yourself to be different because you value growing up.
I use Fritz Perls’ definition: Growing up is honestly facing painful situations
Our defense mechanisms are triggered by wanting to avoid the harshness of reality. Using denial to avoid painful things is an epidemic in the world (as Russia & Turkey jail journalists who don’t follow the party lines of false reality) not just the USA.
Reality asks a lot from us. I remember in 90 & 91 helping my best friend Patrick who died of AIDS in 92 recognize that AIDS was a full-time job. Defensiveness is about creating false realities and adds problems to all partnerships & marriage.
People come in to my office & say they have a communication problem 99 times out of 100. I propose that the communication problem is really defensiveness with a lack of ability to face the truth about how you contribute to the problems in a relationship.
We far prefer the old, tired circles of blame that go nowhere!
Defensiveness is a way to stay comfortable & blame the other person instead of being uncomfortable & looking at ourselves. Try jumping into the deep end of the pool, taking responsibility for your contributions to the problems & watch the communication improve massively!