Defensive No More!


Are you defensive? Before you say a defensive “No!” think again! We all are or have been defensive at some point in our lives and will continue to be at other points in our life despite the blog! Then why am I taking the pains to even pen this down, you’d wonder?! Well, the effort behind this one, is to understand what being defensive is, why we do it and what we can do to reduce this behavior to a point that it becomes practically non-existent!

If you can go back to instances from your past, when someone has asked you as to why you are being defensive or to those instances when you have been quick to answer even at the cost of cutting someone’s question halfway, you will find that being defensive is a reaction, an impulsive retaliation and not a well thought out response. This is because it is our defense mechanism that kicks in from what we perceive as potential danger. It is a knee jerk reaction to protect ourselves- a primal instinct.

Think about it; if someone is asking us about things in our life that are going great or if they question us about things that aren’t going great but in an even tone or if we are adequately prepared, we respond maturely, explaining everything as best as we possibly could. Yet, if either the tone, the body language, the framing of the question or statement makes us uncomfortable, or if the question is completely unexpected, we are quick to thwart it. Usually, after this immediate reaction, our brain quickly processes the events and decides our further course of action and we smoothen things out with a smarter addition to the earlier riposte.

The problem arises when the retaliation is excessive or when the smoothening that follows fails to happen and we are stuck defending ourselves though it sounds a bit over the top even to our own ears! Basically, that’s the ego kicking in now and we don’t want to go back on our stand, to save face. Just think about it; we are puppets of our egos and we don’t mind being prickly but we don’t want to be wrong or judged as being wrong.

Therefore, things to keep in mind to avoid being defensive or at least bouncing back sooner are:

·        Get over the fear of being judged. Nobody is perfect. We only need a validation from our own self.


·        We don’t owe anyone an explanation (unless working for someone/or if we have wronged someone). If we know we are right then we do not need to justify.


·        Take a deep breath or two before responding akin to count up to 10 when you are angry before replying.


·        Do not validate or negate an implied statement.


·        Be comfortable with who you are- the good, the bad and the ugly! Ours is a unique combo and let’s celebrate that. As long as we recognize our dark side and work on bringing in the light, we are good to go.


This will come after years of practice but try not being remote controlled by others. When they are being nasty and nosey or unpleasant, they are projecting their weaknesses under the garb of having it all under control and when you refuse to be flustered and don’t validate or negate what they are saying, because you don’t owe them an explanation in the first place, you see right through their motives and that comes when you are comfortable in your own skin. It is when we want to run away from our shadow and portray ourselves as being perfect, that these hang ups come about.

Mine has been a different story. I used to shrink at being told off and if someone was being nasty or just trying to grill me, I’d accept it with an uncomfortable laugh. I’d get back home and cry into my pillow especially if these people were senior to me in age or known to my parents or were my relatives. If something was wrongly implied or if I was indeed caught on the wrong foot for something trivial, I’d feel heat being generated in my body and nervous laughter was the vent that dissipated my discomfort. Things are different now. If I am being prodded on things, I am not comfortable with and which are nobody else’s business, gone are the days when I laughed uncomfortably - I retaliate and I can be cold, sarcastic and hurtful. I can even be rude. This, I believe, is over compensation for the past lack of consideration for myself. I recognize this aspect in my behaviour. I do come across as more defensive now than ever before but I know I am in transition mode. I am patiently working on myself. It won’t be long before words from others stop triggering me. I have stopped explaining myself too and it is liberating!


Hopefully, this blog throws some light upon defensive behaviour. We are a complex lot but I believe at the core, we are all good. Our experiences including traumas, our mental makeup, our environment in the early years and the guidance we receive, make us see and respond differently. If we understand that the most difficult people we meet, are perhaps hurting the most; they may feel judged-even by their own self, then all that will rise within us would be compassion- may not be at that instant because we’d be riled too but eventually, we’d like to let it pass.

Let’s be kind to ourselves and keep away from those we might not be able to gel with but let’s not judge them needlessly for being who they are.


  1. Deep... some of which required me to read twice over...but the last para sums it up well. Hope to remember for myself.

  2. Bang On!!! My favourite part of the blog... ‘Get over the fear of being judged. Nobody is perfect. We only need a validation from our own self’ That’s all one needs indeed 💫

    1. Thank you! :) It is a deep seated fear and what's worse is that we constantly judge ourselves the most and almost inhumanly. We'd never speak so harshly to another as we silently speak to ourselves- it is all conditioning over centuries and sometimes in our genetic coding!! Recognizing the same and getting past it is the challenge.


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