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When defence becomes your best offence

I can build a fortress. At times, when confronted against something that threatens me, or faced with imminently painful situations, I might put up another brick. What does my fortress look like? It’s made up mostly of actions, gestures, and words that keep you from getting to know the real me – the person who might be faced with fear, anxiety, insecurity or some other uncomfortable feeling.

We build these walls of defense sometimes as children. Sometimes as adults. Perhaps there is a time or a place where these defenses were mandatory, but often, we hold on to them much longer than they are needed until they serve a purpose far more dangerous to ourselves than the protection they were intended.

The list of defensive behaviour is long. Some might decide to crack a joke, using humour to laugh their way out of feeling uncomfortable. Others might simply try to argue, or rationalize out of a tight situation. Individuals playing the victim role will drown in self-pity to escape a difficult conversation. Some other common defensive behaviours are denial, projection, sarcasm, intimidation, repression, displacement…the list goes on.

Identifying and accepting our defenses is a great first step in chipping away at the wall. From here, we can peel back the layers to it by asking ourselves questions:

  • How am I feeling when I use this defense?

  • What thoughts are going through my head when I go to this defense?

  • What other situations do I use this defense?

  • When did I first start using this?

  • How does it push others away from me?

Ultimately, recognizing and understanding these defensive patterns is essential to exchanging them for more direct, healthy behaviour. As a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor, I can help provide the necessary feedback and tools to aid in your journey of self-discovery. Contact me anytime.

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