Habit of Being Defensive

Being emotionally defensive is a bad habit unless there is a war outside.

I’d like to see dominance as leadership and submission as following a leader. Somehow defensive behavior prevents both to lead and to follow. After a while defender stays alone with chronically high cortisol (anxiety) and lack of oxytocin (trust). And the only way out is to binge on bad dopamine and serotonin habits to color the life in the entrenchment a bit.

Potencial followers won’t follow a leader who is taking defensive pose. This individual falls out of any pack sooner or later. No matter who is he trying to be – leader or follower.

Being emotionally defensive. Over Protected Knight. Image from www.whywesuffer.com

However, individual might be forced to take the defensive pose. It’s shows up like a curse for example. Spiritual practitioners use a clue in the emotional system to put victim in constant anxiety. Person do not know what he is defending and against whom. Long term stress depletes body. Individual is unable to lead productive life. He is always on alarm and defend something. Emotional chemistry works like there is a war outside. Serious health problems comes with in 10 years of being in “entrenchment” or sooner.

None Defensive Social Strategies

Emotional defensiveness might be replaced with either dominance (leadership) or submission (following a leader) in order to turn defensive anxiety off.

Defensiveness is like a middle stage of person’s social hierarchy positioning.

Being defensive illustrates instability of social status. It is crucial to have stable emotional connection with a social group. This helps calm the anxiety down.

  1. To take dominant position individual should always act by adding a value and space to his and other people lives. And to be patient waiting they choose to follow him.
  2. To take submissive position its enough to serve someone honestly. Over all the right way is to leave some profit of everything that comes in touch.
  • However in real life defensive people fall into binge of dopamine inducing habits. These are use of sweets, alcohol, drugs, watching TV, surfing internet, playing videogames. Use of verbal proofing of their value, criticizing and blaming of others, being cynic etc.. All of this stuff just to feel independent while defending a unreal entrenchment.

The Causes of Defensiveness

People react defensively because they anticipate or perceive a threat in their environment.

Defensive communication expert Jack Gibbs outlines six behavioral categories that create defensive responses in people:

  1. Dogmatism – Black and white, I’m right and you’re wrong, either/or, and other kinds of all or nothing thinking and communication cause people to react defensively.
  2. Lack of accountability – Shifting blame, making excuses, and rationalizing behavior leads people to raise their defense levels.
  3. Controlling/Manipulative – Using all sorts of behaviors to control or manipulate people will lead to defensive behavior.
  4. Guarded/Withholding Information – When people feel like they are being left in the dark or purposely excluded from having information they should know, they are threatened and will react defensively.
  5. Superiority – Want someone to be defensive? Then act like you’re better than him/her, lord your power, knowledge, or position over them and see how they respond.
  6. Critical – A constant focus on catching people doing something wrong, rather than right, creates a climate of defensiveness.

How to Deal With Other People’s Defensive Behavior

Some people’s defensiveness is so deeply rooted in their behavioral patterns that there is little realistic chance they will permanently change. However, there are some helpful strategies we can use to deal with defensiveness:

  • Re-frame the behavior – Explore why the person is feeling threatened and work to address the threat(s). One of the reasons we get so frustrated with defensive people is we try to deal with the behavior without addressing the threat that is causing the behavior.
  • Reduce the danger – Once you’ve identified the threat(s) causing the defensive behavior, work to reduce the perceived danger. Be moderate in your tone, even-tempered, empathize with their concerns, be respectful, and respond non-defensively to avoid escalating tensions.
  • Replace negative feedback with questions or offers to help – If you have to regularly deal with someone who reacts defensively, you’ve probably noticed that the slightest bit of negative feedback sets them off. Replace the negative feedback with a question or an offer to help.
    For example, instead of saying “Sally, you made a mistake on this report,” rephrase it by saying “Sally, I’m not sure I understand this section on the report. Could you help me figure it out?”

    Remember, a person acts defensively because he/she perceives a threat. Try to make the situation non-threatening.

  • Avoid forced choice – The less people feel boxed in to either/or, yes/no, right/wrong choices, the less threatening the situation.
  • Treat people with humility – Approach other people in a collaborative manner, looking for ways to help them win in the situation. Take time to identify and recognize their needs, discover what’s important to them, and validate their concerns.

Defensiveness destroys relationships from the inside-out. It creates a climate of contention and tension that eventually leads to a loss of trust, alienation, and separation. Identifying the root of defensiveness in our relationships, and working toward addressing and removing those issues, will help improve the overall quality and the productivity of our relationships.

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