A classic example is the husband who appreciates his wife's freshly cooked food. Faced with this comment, the wife replies: “What do you mean? Are you implying that I don't usually cook well? " In front of this exit it is normal for the man to get angry and the situation ends with a discussion which is followed by an icy silence.
Being defensive means that, when faced with phrases and behaviors that have a neutral or even positive imprint, we react as if it were a threat. Because?
The reasons that lead us to adopt a defensive attitude
We believe that the person's attitude is threatening, that it is attacking our personal integrity. Almost always being on the defensive is based on the fear that others want to hurt us, either because we have lived through many disappointments during our life or because the relationship with that person has not always been all roses.
Other times a person gets defensive simply because they are going through a very stressful situation and any event sets off the alarm. Of course, there are people who are naturally suspicious and constantly live in an atmosphere of distrust that does not allow them to relax. In this case, at the base there is a deep fear of rejection and a poor tolerance in the face of criticism.
On the other hand, there are other cases in which the person adopts a defensive position that aims to protect a certain intimate space that he is not willing to share. This is something very common especially in relationships between adolescents and their parents, in people suffering from addictions or in couples who have just started living together.
Another reason that causes many people to get defensive is the existence of resentment towards the other. This attitude is very common in couples, when both are struggling to control the situation and impose their point of view. In these cases, the relationship is experienced as a power struggle in which one wins and the other loses, without compromise and the possibility of negotiation.Basically, defensive attitude always hides an insecure person. In addition, it also sends the signal that we have a closed mind and we react exaggeratedly and emotionally to situations, which does not help us to build healthy relationships, neither in private nor in the professional sphere.
How do you know if you are on the defensive?Often, when we tell someone they are on the defensive, they take it as an offense and deny it. In fact, we often adopt this attitude without realizing it because we are too immersed in the story going around in our minds that we cannot clearly see what is happening in the real world.Some signs that this attitude is being adopted are: - It begins to speak quickly without giving the other person time to explain their opinions. - You do not stop to listen to what the other says but continue to elaborate all the arguments to counter his opinions. - You use justifications which are not entirely certain, but they eliminate our share of responsibility in the matter. - The other person is perceived as an enemy to be defeated.
- You make the words "but" and "but" your favorite words, so that most of our sentences start with these.
- We react to personal criticism by hiding behind the mistakes of others and comparing ourselves to them.
- Sarcasm is used to denigrate the other person.
- We do not ask for explanations when we do not understand something but we assume what the other wants to say.
- One feels constantly tense and irritated, as if life were a constant struggle.
Being constantly on the defensive is a sign that we need to stop on the path to understand how we got to this point. This attitude limits us as people and directly affects those around us, because it always pushes us to attack everyone. Always remember this phrase from Scottish entrepreneur Thomas Dewar: "The mind is like a parachute, it works best when it's open."