You're being defensive again. No, I'm not!
There's a reason:
Defenses are called defenses because we use them to protect ourselves.
But from what?
Defenses are understandable if you're being physically or verbally attacked. But most defensiveness is just the go-to reaction in many everyday conversations between people in close relationships.
"You didn't rinse your dishes again" she says. This pisses him off and he blurts back,
"Gimme a break. One time I forget and you're down my neck."
Familiar? What's going on here? Why are we all nodding in recognition?
The answer is that our minds (which are brain-body systems) have been primed over our lifetimes to behave like this to ward off perceived attacks, even when the other person is simply expressing mild frustration over a small thing.
This behavior is called reactivity:
A fight response driven by a primal drive for security that - for humans - includes emotional security. [Tweet This]
At best such interchanges tend to be resolved with an apology like:
"Sorry, I didn't mean to snap back like that."
But- if it wasn't meant, then why did it happen?
Tune in next time for a glimpse at the root of most difficulties in relationships. Much more can be done about it than we think.