Anger Tip 24 – Avoid defensiveness when relating to others

Psychological defensiveness can be defined as an emotion where one displays an excessive rejection of criticism. Defensiveness is predictor of martial divorce because it prevents a person from receiving honest feedback from others – feedback that would be useful in resolving conflict or promoting closeness. The defensive person rarely takes personal responsibility for an issue or problem; instead they

  • blame the other (for instance,it is not my fault; you shouldn’t have looked at me that way)
  • protest that anybody would respond in a similar manner (for instance, I am normal; everybody in my family would do the same thing) or
  • put you down to invalidate the criticism (for instance, what do you know, you are a woman)

Defensive people rarely grow in relationship because their goal is to protect their fragile ego instead of becoming a better or more effective person, or improving communication or understanding of their partner.

If you are defensive, try being more open-minded to honest criticism from others, especially people who love you. Remember that you are human and imperfect; admitting mistakes will not necessarily lower you in the eyes of loved ones; it often increases their feelings of connection and closeness to you.