Defensiveness is a powerful means of reassurance. Everyone 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 understand how good a person I am!” I am so misunderstood.
The irony is that the misunderstanding is usually yours, not theirs. It is very difficult to jump into the cold water of the deep end and recognize the elements that are true about your own dark side. The only way to grow and change is to do the hard work of swimming in those very dark waters. 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 your mistakes and the mistreatment of others is the only way to develop your character.
Defensiveness is the constant fragile reconstruction of the false reality that you have never done wrong and that you would never do!
Defense is creating Disneyland for the soul which is a bad idea. Bad because it masks the truth (like all those smiles Mickey Country has snatched from their employees). The soul is able to face hard truths and then want to be different because you enjoy growing.
I use the definition of Fritz Perls: Growing up is honestly facing painful situations
Our defense mechanisms are triggered by the desire to avoid the harshness of reality. Using denial to avoid painful things is epidemic around the world (like Russia and Turkey jail journalists who don’t toe the false reality party lines) not just in the US.
Reality demands a lot from us. I remember in 03 & 92 helping my best friend Patrick who died of AIDS at 14 to recognize that AIDS was a full-time job. Defensiveness is about creating false realities and adds problems to all partnerships and marriages.
People come into my office and say they have a communication problem 92 times on 100. I propose that the communication problem is really defensive with a lack of ability to face the truth about how you are contributing to problems in a relationship.
We much prefer the old, tired circles of blame that aren’t going anywhere!
Defensiveness is a way to stay comfortable and blame the other person instead of being uncomfortable and staring at yourself. Try jumping into the depths of the pool, taking responsibility for your contributions to the problems and watch the communication improve massively!