It is quite hard to know if you’re being defensive and it is such a common occurrence that it feels normal when a couple hashes out during an argument.
When we are said to act “defensive”, we tend to react with a mentality that is overprotective in a situation that probably does not require it. We stop listening with our hearts and respond with our weapons drawn and shields up.
This is a hard thing to digest but whenever we are responding to someone else’s concern by trying to defend ourselves, we are being defensive. If you observe that you are trying to explain why you did not do anything wrong, you are being defensive.
Some Examples Of Defensive Behavior
Here are some examples of being defensive as per therapists:
1: Victimizing Yourself: Whenever you are trying to dodge the situation by making yourself the victim of abuse.
2: Over-explaining: Explaining things that are not necessary to be brought up in the conversation.
3: Counter criticizing: Playing the reverse card in every situation.
4: Using “but” in every argument
These can be true in some scenarios but they still represent a desire to act defensive from responsibility. You should remember that you can never walk away from a conversation with your partner, scot-free.
The Problem Of Defending
It is common to be in such a situation and it is a natural instinct for humans to defend themselves from threats. The problem that lies here is that being defensive is abhorrent to connection.
When you try to defend yourself in a conversation, it is at the expense of your partner, who feels that his or her feelings do not matter. We tend to protect our egos instead of caring for the relationship or the partner.
There are scenarios where we need to stand our ground and defend ourselves, but is it very few. We are usually driven to do this just to prove ourselves right. We are being held captive by our ego which acts as an obstacle to great connection and authentic communication.
Relationships can turn disastrous due to defensiveness. When you get caught up in explaining why you are correct and your partner is wrong, then the communication dynamics turn unhealthy.
What Can You Do Instead?
There are several things that you can do instead of defending yourself.
Change your mindset while having such conversations. Do not aim to come out of the conversation looking like the right person as your goal should be to care for your partner and make him or her feel validated.
The change in mindset will improve the consequences of the talk, which will also put your partner at ease.
It will also help to shift the conversation from an argument to alignment between two people.
You need to start by expressing your validation for your partner’s perspectives and feelings.
Try to be sympathetic and empathetic in these situations and say things like, “I get why you are angry” or “I can hear why you would think that.”
The next thing that you need to do is to take responsibility, no matter how small. You can apologize for the small mistakes or errors and say things like “I can take responsibility for the way I spoke to you last night. It was wrong.”
Always try to share your own perspectives after the winds have calmed down when your partner knows that you are understanding his or her views.
It is okay to upset someone, but it is not good to try to clear one’s name. You should try to repair the rupture and tend to your partner’s distress so that you can avoid upsetting each other in the near future.
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