|Posted on April 28, 2015 at 5:55 AM|
“You have to feel confident. If you don't, then you're going to be hesitant and defensive, and there'll be a lot of things working against you.” Clint Eastwood
Today’s Book: How to Win Friends & Influence People By Dale Carnegie http://astore.amazon.com/licodm-20/detail/0671027034
The last few days in my house have been very tense. My ex-husband and my oldest son have been at a cross roads and not communicating very clearly what they want and need from their relationship with each other. They each feel like the other is attacking verbally. Watching this is heartbreaking.
Each of them is on the defense. My son defending his side, breaks down and doesn’t want to communicate at all at points. His father in turn is like a battle ram with his words constantly hitting the same points over and over again and defending his position. Then I get involved, and snap by bringing things up from the past to defend my position and defend my son just to try and put my ex back in his place. All of us handling the situation the best way we can but not very effectively.
Being defensive is usually a less than optimal way of responding. Being defensive serves to escalate the situation and create further barriers to meaningful communication. Whether something was said to you in spite, or you merely misinterpreted a comment, avoiding an aggressive response is often more prudent.
I thought long and hard about today’s blog and what I did to move forward from my situation and what else we could have done. So here are some ways to stop being so defensive:
1. Realize that everyone is doing the best they can. That’s not to say that everyone is demonstrating 100% of their potential. But each minute of the day, everyone is operating the best they can, given their mood, past experiences, skills, coping skills, and so on. If you can adopt this belief, it’s just about impossible for anyone to upset you.
2. It isn’t personal. We can all be grumpy. You might remind someone of their ex. Some individuals are just rude. Allow someone to have a bad day without allowing it to ruin yours. Everyone has their own biases and opinions.
3. Clarify. We often jump to conclusions. Before you do, ask a few questions. Know what’s going on before taking things to the next level.
4. Pause. How many times would you have changed your words or deeds if only you had waited 30 seconds? Give yourself a minute to respond if you’re feeling emotionally charged. Consider how much easier your life would be with simple pauses sprinkled throughout your day.
5. Stop defending yourself. If you have a healthy level of self-esteem, you’re much less likely to be defensive. Be comfortable with who you are.
6. Relax. The more stressed you are, the more likely you are to respond quickly and inappropriately. When you’re calm and relaxed, you’re more capable of responding in a reasonable manner.
• Make a list of activities that relax your mind and body. Spend time engaging in one of them each hour.
7. Figure out if the criticism is accurate. We may not recognize the areas in which we require a little work. Examine the criticism you receive from others and judge the accuracy. If it’s accurate, be grateful and apply the newfound knowledge. If it’s inaccurate, LET IT GO and move on.
8. Realize that you’re less than perfect. If you can accept the fact that you don’t know everything, it’s easier to respond in a more appropriate way.
• Be mature enough to admit when you’ve erred, rather than getting defensive. It will satisfy whomever you’re interacting with and defuse the situation.
9. Understand what being defensive is costing you. Think about the consequences you’ve experienced by being defensive. soured relationships, issues at work, alienated family members, and loneliness can all be consequences of overreacting.
• Realizing the negative impact defensiveness can have on your life will enhance your motivation to change.
10. Make a list of your positive qualities. When you’re feeling defensive, reflect on a quality you like about yourself. This can be challenging in the moment, so it helps to have a list of your positive qualities already in mind.
• Reminding yourself your self-worth is a worthwhile habit to develop.
Everyone has been overly defensive from time to time. It’s part of being human. But there are negative consequences to being overly defensive. If you can learn to be less defensive, your journey through life will be a lot less bumpy.
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