The Challenges of Defensiveness!


I took this picture of a Peregrine Falcon in 2013 at a bird rehabilitation place in Vancouver, British Columbia. I lucked out as the owners normally did not allow this kind of access. They made an exception for me. Thank you for that!

My topic for today is defensiveness. My source is the following article.

"The Four Horsemen: Defensiveness," by Ellie Lisitsa

This article is based on the work of John Gottman, one of my favorite experts on relationships. The Four Horsemen are Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. 

It is interesting to me how quickly I can become defensive. 

"The third horsemen in the Four Horsemen is defensiveness, which is defined as self-protection in the form of righteous indignation or innocent victimhood in an attempt to ward off a perceived attack. Many people become defensive when they are being criticized, but the problem is that its perceived effect is blame. It is usually a counterattack to a complaint, which is not criticism.

Everyone has been defensive, and this horseman is almost always present when relationships are on the rocks. When you feel unjustly accused, you fish for excuses so that your partner will back off. But defensiveness is a way of blaming your partner. You’re saying, in effect, “The problem isn’t me, it’s you.”

Fascinating! To paraphrase this, I believe that  what the author is saying is as follows.
  1. Someone complains about something to do with me.
  2. I get defensive as a form of self-protection.
  3. This defensiveness is a way to "ward off a perceived attack."
  4. I may perceive that I am being criticized, when it is just a complaint.
  5. What I am doing is blaming the other person. "The problem isn't me, it's you."



Instead of blaming the other person, I could say something like this. "I am sorry that my actions upset you. That was not my intention. I was somewhat impatient and I apologize for that." Easier said than done, but something to strive for!


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