Hi, friends. Welcome back for the fourth edition of the How To Love Your Partner series. Today, I'm going to tell you about How to Love Your Overly Defensive Partner. Is your partner overly defensive? Does he or she have a hard time with criticism or go on attack mode at the first sign of a confrontation? Maybe your disagreements quickly escalate into an all-out verbal battle leaving you both wounded and frustrated? Check out this week's video.
First things first. When someone is getting defensive, I want you to consider: where could this be coming from?
Just to give you a little information, typically when people present as overly defensive, usually what's happened is they grew up in an environment where they experienced a lot of criticism and judgment. From there, they start to live in a space of shame, deep-seated shame. And this shapes the lens that they view the world. That lens is called inadequacy.
So, they're constantly thinking, "I'm not good enough, I'm not pretty enough, strong enough, independent enough, handsome enough..." or any number of other things. They simply think, "I'm not enough." When someone comes from an "I'm not enough" standpoint, anything they hear can be perceived as an attack on their character--the way they do things, the way they speak. They get defensive. That's them trying to protect themselves.
If this resonates with you, I want to give you two steps to try to love your overly defensive partner just a little bit more:
1. I want you to AVOID at all costs arguing back with them. It will get you nowhere. The best thing you can do is take a breath. See if you can get really present. And just listen. And not only listen but let them know you're listening. That can look like nodding to let them know that you're present.
Even better, you can say that "I hear you. You're upset. I can see that." Affirm their experience. What that can do is that can stop them dead in their tracks. It's almost like, "Wow, they actually see me. I don't have to get this wound up to get their attention."
So, avoid arguing at all costs and see if you can really just get present and hear them and see them and acknowledge that.
2. I want you to own your part. You may think, "Robyn, give me a break. They're getting defensive, they're lashing out at me. What do you want? You want me to own some of this?"
Yes, but hear me out. Is there a piece, an ounce, a thread of what they're talking about within their outburst or their defensiveness true? Can you identify even the tiniest bit of truth in their story that you can be accountable for?
I'll tell you right now, the moment you own your piece of it, it takes the wind out of their sails. They can no longer argue and attack and come at you because you're simply standing there saying, "I'm here. I'm here, I'm owning it. And when you're done and you feel safe, let's have a conversation about this."
Of course this all sounds really easy coming from me. But, it can be done. It just takes practice.
If this has been helpful, great. Leave a comment below. But if you would like some one on one help, if this has really resonated with you and you'd like to just learn more on how to make this work and love your overly defensive partner, reach out to me: (714) 390-1652 or, you can email me. Let's see if I can help you learn to love your overly defensive partner in ways that you never thought possible.