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 How to stop being so defensive

If you are reading this and you have and questions about emotions, mental health and living a fulfilled life. Please feel free to direct your questions to Adewale at adewale.ademuyiws @ stresstherapist.net ( Remember that this email is all one word. I have separated it to confuse bots so I don't get an email full of junk) To ensure that he can answer you questions properly please make sure to give some context to your question.

Hi Adewale, Jamie from Connecticut here, thanks for giving me a chance to ask you this question. Can you please tell me why I am so defensive? Where does it come from? Why do I struggle with it?

I've tried to understand myself for so long. I'm good at picking up on things in other people and I'm pretty perceptive. I notice when other people are defensive or are trying to hide something. I also have an eye for the obvious. For example, I see people who are manipulative. I also notice when people are being selfish. I'm good at reading people and seeing if they are lying.

The one thing I'm not so good at, is understanding why I am defensive. I hate it. I have friends that tell me that I need to grow a thicker skin, but I don't get it. I hate the way I am and I feel like I should be able to accept it. It feels like a burden and I don't want to carry it around with me all the time. How do I figure it out?

Adewale's answer:

Hi Jamie, Thanks for reaching out.

Being sensitive and defensive is a natural human response to negative stimuli. But when it comes to communication, the same can hurt your cause.

And even if you know that when you respond defensively you are giving away your power and control, creating unnecessary tension and reducing your credibility... Knowing all this does not make it any easier to change.

You may be defensive because you feel attacked, misunderstood or ignored. Or maybe you’re just tired and stressed out and want to protect yourself from getting hurt again.

The first thing is to understand why you are responding this way.  That is because defensiveness is an unconscious reaction. And if you don’t know what is causing it, you will struggle to stop reacting this way.

The second thing is to be compassionate with yourself. Once you understand why you get so defensive, you need to give yourself the time to learn how to change.

Start to become more observant of yourself in moments where you are defensive. 

Notice how you are responding. Are you saying something or are you showing a body language that signals what you are thinking?

Notice the emotion behind your response. Are you angry, sad, or embarrassed? 

Then thirdly, Spend some time exploring why you feel that specific emotion. Is there a trigger? What happened in the past that causes you to feel so angry or hurt?

The last step is to focus on what you can change. This could be changing a thought pattern, learning new social skills, or trying a different approach to communicating.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to reach out again if you have any more questions

Book a consultation with Adewale

Written by Adewale Ademuyiwa
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