The Folly of Defensiveness

When was the last time you got defensive in the face of information about YOU that you didn’t want to hear? We all know what this feels like: an attack on the very fabric of who we think we are or what we stand for. Becoming defensive is a strategy we take to take the heat off owning up to something not so pretty about ourselves. This largely happens outside our conscious choice and we become victims of the circumstance at hand. Question though: Why would we ever have to feel defensive? What are we trying to defend? Behind the wall of guardedness lay an immaculate truth about yourself. It could be a less-than-ideal image or thought about yourself, a past trauma or hurt, or something else lurking behind there. Usually defensiveness comes out as aggressiveness, like sending back an email message laden with frustration for example. It is even worse when someone confronts you negatively about something you did wrong, or not up to their expectations.

If you become adept at letting your guard down and stopping the defensiveness to see if there is something you can own up to and what that means to your ego, something interesting happens. First, anxiety overtakes you because the information given dislodges the image or persona that you project outward. This is very unsettling and the tendency to want to fight back or avoid the situation comes up. But, if you can sit with the anxiety and let it breath, let it be what it is, even though it feels uncomfortable, at a certain point clarity will come through the confusing cloud of unknowing. On the other side of defensiveness is the promise land, that place that realizes that the good and bad are two sides of the same coin. If you can acknowledge and befriend those broken and unresolved parts of yourself you in essence fortify yourself to other assaults, because the jig is up. You don’t have to pretend to be something you are not. Defensiveness is an action we take from a triggered situation, which leaves a disconnected result. Few people can trod this path of excellence. Be one of those few.