The Guards Around Our Beliefs
Aside from (1) poor communication and (2) disrespectful treatment, the other sure-fire relationship killer is a (3) bag full of defenses just waiting to be poured out. Then, they can smoke up an issue, and thoroughly bewilder the other person. The confusion scuttles him and puts him at a disadvantage. Then, you have the power in the relationship. Relationships don’t do well when only one person has the advantage. Healthy relationships strive for equality for both people. That should be goal for all of us.
Okay, what are defenses? Our defenses are Reactions to what we think is a challenge from someone else. Remember that each person, including you and me, has a set of ideas, opinions, and thoughts that we believe is true. Our beliefs produce our behavior. So, when someone says or does something that challenges our thoughts or behaviors, we feel we must defend ourselves. Then our defenses rise quickly, usually automatically.
We can haul our defenses out any time we need them. They become our friends because they keep our beliefs intact. Yes, even if our beliefs are unhealthy.
Understand that our ideas about life and how we should live it form when we’re very young, usually under five years old. So can our defenses, although they can also form any time in our lives. Like our beliefs, our defenses are an ongoing but mostly Unconscious part of our everyday behavior. Usually, we don’t even know they’re with us, just as ordinarily we aren’t aware of our beliefs.
You’ll see a chart below that lists 14 commonly used defenses. These are just a beginning. By that, I mean that all of us can be pretty creative with our defenses, so it would be impossible to make a complete list. This’ll get you started though.
I hope this helps as you observe both your own behavior and other’s. We should all really strive to be open, not defensive. The person who is hurt the most by defenses is the person using them. Be kind to yourself; get rid of them.