Defensiveness in Relationships

The dictionary describes defensiveness as “the quality of being anxious to challenge or avoid criticism.” What it doesn’t describe is why we become defensive or how we deal with someone becoming defensive towards us. Getting defensive from time to time is a normal human emotion. We all go through it or experience it one way or another. That only tells us that we have something we should work on! And it's an important reaction to be aware of because the frequency of defensiveness in our relationships increases the likelihood of relationship distress. The Center of Connected Living is the perfect place to go when you need help sorting through tough emotions.

"Why are you being so defensive?"

We’ve all heard this before. Sometimes we get passionate about what we’re saying that it comes out as defensiveness. Passion often can be disguised as being defensive, but what is the best way to respond when you're hit with the question, “why are you being so defensive?” First, stop and think before you respond. Questions that start off with “why” can sometimes seem accusatory, and that determines how the rest of the conversation will go, but don’t let it go left! Stop and think about what the topic of conversation is and who you’re having it with. Defensiveness is often triggered because we feel insulted, attacked, misunderstood or mis-treated in some way. To be aware of how we are triggered is the best self-knowledge! Use this as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and beliefs.

Why am I being defensive?

"Maybe I am being defensive'… If this is a thought you’ve had in your head, I’m here to tell you that’s okay! It’s the first step in realizing that there’s a disconnect in communication and working to fix it. Occasionally, the most well-meaning sentences can raise red flags in our minds. It can arise for any number of reasons - a learned response, a natural reaction to feeling attacked, from past traumas or from being gaslit before. Whatever the reason, there’s no need to worry. Let's work together to look at the root wound that has triggered a defensive position.

How to handle defensiveness from others

We can have the best intentions in the world and times will still happen when we insult, offend, and hurt others. It can be hard to admit when we’ve hurt or offended someone, especially when we know we didn’t mean to. The important thing to remember is that even if we didn’t mean to, we did, and we have to work towards bringing the conversation back to a comfortable and respectful place. If there is where you find your struggle lies, don’t attempt to figure it out on your own and create further cracks in a relationship that later can’t be repaired. If we find that someone is being defensive to something we said or did, we need to take the necessary steps to acknowledge our part and handle it as kindly and with as much understanding as we can.

Defensiveness is an emotion that can cause us to doubt ourselves, and maybe you’re not finding it easy to work through it. This is where The Center of Connected Living comes in. We can work with you on the best ways to deal with defensiveness from others, and even from yourself. We’re here to work with you, so schedule a session and we can do this together!