Ever find yourself feeling as if you’re fully engulfed in the inherited heavy emotion of fight-or-flight and defend yourself either verbally and/or physically, just as if you were actually being attacked by a wild animal? (Which is where this feeling originated with our ancestors.)
There is that part of us that seeks to protect our idea of “self” from attacks from other human beings. This part of us is highly sensitive, easily offended, feels entitled, superior, and jealous, among other motivations for defending your self at any opportunity, either real or imagined.
Nobody wants to experience pain, either physical or emotional, so we find ourselves on-guard to defend ourselves, especially if we’ve been hurt in the past. In this case, anything that looks frighteningly familiar to anything associated with any pain we’ve experienced in the past, we go into an emergent emotional response, which heightens our senses and readies us for battle. Or if the opponent appears to foreboding, we are looking for the closest exit and start preparing for a rapid departure.
This is a natural response to particular circumstances, such as
Dealing with conflict
In an attempt to protect yourself from the pain of any conflict, to defend, prevent or disable a conflict which could escalate into a more difficult situation, that might lead to injury or even loss of life.
If you’re unable to admit that you overreact in certain circumstances (which we are all prone to do), you can easily identify this self-defense mechanism being engaged in by others.
A common response in self-defense of potential conflicts is to play the blame card, blame the other person or someone else to remove the focus from you. Certainly, you could be falsely accused, or you could be in a heightened state of defensiveness due to unresolved issues from your past. And who knows what lies in the dark recesses of our heart and mind? There can be a wide variety of pent-up emotion, fear, guilt or shame fueling your defensiveness.
It’s interesting to sit back and watch two people defending their selves. It is not unlike hand-to-hand combat only using accusatory words instead of fisticuffs.
Protection from pain
Nobody wants to be hurt (or hurt again) so we’re on the lookout for potential painful situations. circumstances or interactions with other people. The downside to this is that surely if you are looking for demons you will find them, whether they are real or imagined.
And it’s not all in your head, as you experience psychological and physiological real pain from just the idea of there being a threat of a pending painful experience. These feelings can also create actual illnesses and diseases as well as the deterioration of the physical body, possibly ushering you to an early grave.
Even if you cannot imagine yourself as an angry person, when you are accosted by an angry person, it is a natural reaction to respond in kind, which escalates the anger into a potential battle of Armageddonistic proportions.
If you are too defensive, onlookers will be compelled to believe you are possibly guilty or hiding some demons of your own.
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks”
Hamlet (William Shakespeare)
It is not uncommon to use an alternative feeling as a bandage to cover the wounded feeling. For instance, if someone leaves us, we just find it easier to re-frame the whole affair be demonizing the departing partner, or convincing ourselves (and our peers) that he/she was actually undesirable and below your standards, wishing him or her, “good riddance.” This does sometimes offer an adequate degree of decreased pain.
Our defensiveness does not have a healing effect on those who surround us, in fact, it has just the opposite effect. It prevents us from cultivating potentially amazing relationships with others and if you are prone to overreaction, others are likely to keep their distance out of their own self-preservation, and often we are unable to see this in our own reflection.
If left unattended, we can fall into a nearly comatose state of emotional numbness with regard to relationships. We lose all sense of love, compassion, empathy not to mention a lack of happiness or joy around other people. You could become a lifeless zombie just going through the motions of living a life.
You find these zombies liberated from their feelings lurking in the Internet or social media via any device available. This is the only place where they can find solace, or ability to strike out at other imposing threats while hiding behind their firewall.
Others retreat into simply being completely logical, denying all sense of emotion as nonsensical illusion, like a Vulcanic Mr. Spock from Star Trek.
Loss of self
Eventually, you are left lonely and alone. If you’ve prepared yourself for this, you won’t care and feel as though you are better off because everyone else is evil or stupid and you’re better off without having relationships with other people at all.
In this state, there is little chance of discovering your true self, as you can only do this by viewing your reflection in the eyes of others. Before you have little chance of finding and empowering the real you to emerge and celebrate all the good things this life has in store for you, you might like to explore the possibilities.
You are a very special person with so much life calling you to all the love and joy you could possibly imagine, but it may require taking a look at doing some inner deep work.
You have the right to live your life any way you want, to any degree of success or privacy you want without any judgment whatsoever.
After all, aren’t we all just doing the best we can with what we have?