Do you ever react defensively to someone’s words?
I know I do.
I’m the queen of, “Yeah, but” and “I can’t” and “You don’t understand.”
Someone says something that justifies my ex’s actions and I respond with anger and righteousness (actually, this is not so true anymore, but it was for a long time!).
Someone else tells me that I can make this whole elderly car thing work out for the best and I want to stomp my feet like a frustrated two-year-old and scream in indignation.
Even Brock is not immune. When giving advice on my new career in real estate based upon his years of successful sales experience, I felt myself shutting down and becoming defensive rather than receptive.
So why do I respond this way?
It’s certainly not adaptive.
But there is a reason.
In every one of these cases (and in countless others), I picked up the armor and shield (and, yeah, sometimes a sword too) because the person was getting warmer.
They were dangerously close to touching on some hidden fear. Some inner wound that I preferred to protect rather than expose.
The remarks about my ex used to tweak that nerve that still stung with the betrayal and his words that I was the one responsible. I was still struggling to separate myself from his claims and actions and accept myself as whole and lovable and deserving. When someone validated him in some way, I saw it as reinforcing his false blames and devaluing me in the process.
The claims about my future triumph over the conundrum of reliable transportation triggers my deep-seated fears and shame around money and debt. I’ve been a bit head-in-the-sand about my car. I chose to focus on the assurances that it still has years of life remaining while not wanting to face the realities of its aging body. I take it to the mechanic’s and pay the bills as though I’m making a virgin sacrifice to the car gods – I will burn this $500 and in return, you will give me 12 more months of carefree driving. So I don’t always appreciate it when reality buts in.
And the advice from Brock? That tickled yet another insecurity. You see, Brock is a salesman. An excellent salesmen. And me? I literally freeze at the thought of making a cold call. In fact, I get nervous making any kind of call. Luckily, real estate is not sales in the purest sense. In fact, I see it as more customer service, an where I excel. But I’m still insecure, especially as I begin my career while overhearing Brock, confident in his, negotiate with the best of them. So, at the moment, I’m a bit oversensitive until I gain my footing.
In all of these cases, I have worked to address my deep-seated fears that triggered the defensive response. I’ve been very successful with that in terms of my ex and I’ve made progress on the financial anxieties. As for real estate? I suggest you approach with caution:)
Pay attention to your own protective reactions.
Be alert to when your guard goes up.
Or you respond with a firm, “I can’t.”
Because often, those reactions occur right at the area where you have work to do.
So instead of simply building walls and turning away, use that instinct as a sign to dig a little deeper and begin the needed repairs.
When you respond defensively, it means you’re getting warmer.
You’ll find it.