Are you highly defensive?

How do you tend to react to the mistakes of others? How do you react to your own mistakes?

We’re usually more forgiving of ourselves than we would be of someone else who made the same mistake. Across the many relationships we have in our life, we hurt and we get hurt. And when we’re the ones getting hurt, we can be very critical of those who hurt us.

I see this all the time as a psychotherapist. We’re critical of those who hurt us because we usually judge others by their behaviours, rather than their intentions. Our anxieties and fears about what another person’s behaviours might have meant often lead us to become defensive.

I’d like you to think about a person who’s done something that aggravated you or upset you. What did they say or do that upset you? This is their behaviour.

Now, think about how you interpreted the person’s behaviour. This is your perception.

Consider that your perception might not be accurate. Is it possible that they didn’t mean to upset you? Is it possible that you interpreted their behaviour in a particular way because of something that happened to you in the past?

Think about why their behaviour offended you. What fears did their behaviour awaken? Why did you become defensive?

We don’t have the security of knowing for certain what another person’s intentions are. This can make us feel vulnerable, which invokes our fears and makes us highly defensive.

Defensiveness is really about the perception of what another person meant. I see this a lot in couple’s therapy, where one partner will say that they’ve been hurt by something the other said or did. Their partner’s response is usually something like, “I didn’t mean to,” or “Don’t be so defensive.”

In contrast to how we judge brand name xanax others, we judge ourselves by our intentions because we have the security of knowing what they are. We’re typically forgiving of ourselves, even if we know we hurt someone else. It’s much easier to tell ourselves that we didn’t mean to hurt someone when we’ve made a mistake. But if the roles are reversed, it’s not as easy.

To overcome the anger and hurt you feel towards others, focus on shifting your perception. Very few people who hurt you have malicious intentions. And even if they do, why would you let them have power over your emotions and ruin your day?

If you shift your perception and consider that maybe the person who upset you didn’t mean to cause harm, you can let it go. Instead of blaming others for ruining your day or putting you in a bad mood, notice when you’re upset and where you feel it in your body. Everyone experiences some physical aspect to anxiety, whether it’s tension in your jaw or quickened breathing. If you notice how you feel anxiety in your body, you will become more aware of it.

Once you’ve developed awareness, you can begin to train your brain to think about the behaviours of others differently. If you catch yourself when you’re upset and shift your perception to be more open-minded and tolerant of the behaviours of others – much like you are of yourself – you can let go of whatever upset you.

Letting go is a very powerful thing because it means that they didn’t get to you. If you continue to practice awareness and shifting your perception when someone upsets you, you can bring more calm into your life and relationships moving forward.


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