Defensive Reactions: How To Stop This Toxic Habit and Have Less Drama

Defensive man

Defensive people bring drama into any situation. Their perception of the world is full of danger. Everyone is out to attack them. As a result, they’re in constant self-preservation mode even though that’s creating even more conflict!

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

While you might feel like you should always defend yourself, realize it’s just adding unnecessary drama to your life. It hasn’t worked this whole time anyway. It’s only made life more difficult.

What causes defensive reactions?

The amygdala processes fear, anxiety, and defensiveness in the most ancient part of the brain. Its role is to alert you of possible danger. However, modern humans aren’t typically in danger. If you allow it to take control, it’ll make everything appear more threatening than it is.

The good news is this malicious reaction isn’t set in stone. It’s not how you are, nor is it how you’ll be forever.

In fact, a new, happier, and more enjoyable version of you is waiting on the horizon.

Photo by Ivan Mudruk from Pexels
Photo by Ivan Mudruk from Pexels

But first, you’ll need to let go of the old, negative, unpredictable self. You can defeat this destructive habit no matter how long you’ve been this way.

Next, try the following tips to bring this toxic defensive habit to an end.

1. Notice when you’re about to get defensive

Notice when you're about to get defensive.
Photo by Timur Weber from Pexels

Defensive behavior is a major reason for most conflicts. In fact, it is one of the top four reasons that people get divorced. It also destroys the defensive person’s confidence. Soon they’re so insecure and fearful of conflict that they avoid taking responsibility for anything.

Build self-awareness and emotional knowledge, so you’ll realize when you’re triggered. You can’t stop defending yourself if you don’t learn how it feels when it takes control of you.

The moment you feel your heart beating faster and angry thoughts start brewing; you need to stop for a minute. Defensiveness loves negative, defeatist thinking. So, don’t feed it what it wants.

2. Learn to self-soothe


Learn to self-soothe in response to stressful moments. Then, instead of flying off the handle, acknowledge to yourself the emotion you’re feeling. Just that will calm your mind.

It’s a habitual negative perception that makes you misinterpret things.

So, if you’re feeling attacked and want to get defensive, stop, then take some deep breaths.

Tell yourself that you aren’t being attacked and there isn’t a threat. You’re just experiencing an emotion, and hostility isn’t warranted.

3. Listen with curiosity to solve the issue

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels
Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

If you want to improve your relationships immediately, listen to the other person instead of trying to read into everything for a possible sign of mistreatment. Or worrying about your rebuttal and not paying attention to what they’re telling you.

Don’t hide from their words, be brave enough to listen. Ask them questions about what you can do differently. This solution will ensure you both never argue about this again.

4. Get rid of a victim-mindset

Photo by Timur Weber from Pexels
Photo by Timur Weber from Pexels

There’s a strong possibility that you don’t realize that you might be creating these problems. It’s difficult to see the role you played.

When people feel defensive, it’s always the other person’s fault. In their mind, it’s safer for their ego if they play the innocent one. Then they can blame everyone else. However, it’ll be debilitating to your self-esteem and ego when no one wants to be around you anymore.

Acting like you’ve never messed up in your life, and nothing’s your fault is a lie only you believe. Plus, if you really thought that was true, you’d never need to make things up or put up a front. Furthermore, it’s a major sign of having a victim mindset. It’s very unattractive and irritating for others.
So, don’t look lame trying to hide your mistakes. Be brave and fess up to them; that way, there’s no reason for anyone to bring it up again.

5. Negative thoughts breed defensive reactions

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

Don’t dwell on the annoying things people do unless your goal is to ruin your day. Or if you want to destroy all your friendships or relationships.

Yeah, let’s not take that route!

If we obsess about assumptions or negative things about the other person, things won’t end well. Ask yourself if flipping out is worth losing them. Chances are it’s not worth it. So, stop, take a few deep breaths, and focus on your surroundings instead of any angry thoughts. Get into the present moment and stay out of your head.

6. Learn how to handle criticism better

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

If your friend or significant other tells you about something you did that bothered them, it’s silly to throw a fit. I promise you aren’t the first person to ever bother someone else. Furthermore, acting like you never mess up is at the root of defensive behavior. It’ll prolong the argument for a long time.

Besides, hiding from the fact that you make mistakes doesn’t make it true.

Your life will be more enjoyable and less stressful if you face your flaws. If you can fix whatever is causing problems, then do it. You don’t need to be perfect to be loveable. In fact, studies prove that people’s mistakes and flaws make them more likable. No one wants to hang out with “Bertha Betterthanyou” anyways.

Every person in the world can relate to spilling coffee, tripping on their feet, or forgetting something important. It’s relatable and the human way! So, take feedback as a chance to eliminate future arguments and solve them immediately.

7. Remember that getting defensive causes more harm than good

Defensive behavior brings what you fear the most.
Photo by Ba Tik from Pexels

Defensive behavior brings what you fear the most to reality. Usually, the defensive person always snaps at others, thus sabotaging their chances of being accepted.

The moment you raise your guard, you subconsciously cause people to attack you. Like if you suddenly start running, it’ll make a dog chase you. People can sense insecurity when you get infuriated easily. It’s always better to be calm and emotionally stable. Furthermore, no one likes being around someone who’s always on edge.

8. Build self-acceptance

Photo by Min An from Pexels
Photo by Min An from Pexels

If you feel ashamed every time you mess up, you’ll scramble to hide it. Or if someone tells you that you could improve in some way, your entire pseudo world will come crashing down on you.

You might think, “How dare they destroy my immaculate imaginary world!? I’ll show them, vengeance is mine!”

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash
Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

As you can imagine, you’d be much better off if you accept that you make mistakes. That way you won’t feel the need to hide from problems. You’ll be confident and open-minded enough to listen to feedback and fix it.

Accept who you are. Go ahead, trip on the sidewalk and be the first to laugh at yourself. You’ll see it actually makes you a more likable person!

9. Realize when to defend yourself

Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash
Photo by Eric Ward on Unsplash

I want to be clear that I’m not saying you should just let people walk all over you and treat you horribly.

Sometimes defending yourself is a good choice. Like if someone physically hurts you, you can’t allow that to continue. Seriously, if you’re in a relationship with this person, that’s a sign that it’s time to make a plan to leave.

Otherwise, it’ll worsen, and you don’t want your demise featured on a true-crime show!

Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels
Photo by Liza Summer from Pexels

In short, defensive behavior is an unappealing habit. Don’t assume it’s everyone else’s fault that you feel angry. If you perceive and react to life more positively, everything changes for the better. You won’t have the same daily arguments; instead, you’ll see that it’s a fixable issue and put to an end.

No one is perfect, and the more you hold on to things not being your fault, the longer the conflicts will continue. So, eliminate this persistent drama by realizing the role you play, and altering your behavior. That way, you’ll never have that same fight again!

Are you or someone you know too defensive?

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