Do you often get defensive when people say things you don’t like or don’t agree with? Do you find you take things personally, even when they may not have to do with you?
When we take things personally it is usually because we believe what is being said. We are taking information in through our own conditioned filter, fearing the validity of what is being said. Quite often things that are said aren’t even intended to be received the way that we receive them.
If, like me, you can be quite sensitive and reactive when people hit your soft spots, here are some handy tips to keep in mind – and keep you from getting defensive:
- Before you react, ask. Many times we misinterpret what people are saying, so when in doubt just ask if you understood things correctly.
- Be open to vulnerability. If something someone says offends or upsets you, let that person know – in an honest and non aggressive manner. They are not aware of your conditioning or how certain things may be taken the wrong way by you.
- Don’t accuse. It never helps to get someone else’s walls up when yours have been triggered.
- Remember that we are all mirrors for each other. What we often forget is that other people’s perception of us is merely a reflection of what is going on with them. Taking things personally is like taking on the issues of someone else. Everyone is responsible for their own actions and opinions.
- Catch yourself before your walls go up. Without awareness nothing can change. Notice when someone says something to you and what about it makes you want to defend yourself. Is what they are saying true? Does it take you back to something someone once said to you before that hurt your feelings? Notice how your body reacts, where your mind goes, how your breath changes. The more aware you become, the more you are able to take a step back, assess the situation and work on the previous 4 tips!
We all have wounds that others may touch and hurt us. Quite often it is done unintentionally and even when it is not, we are the ones responsible for giving it undue attention. When we cannot take feedback constructively, we are coming up against our own egos and fears of inadequacy. If we can learn to slow down long enough to notice our patterns, we can begin to start making changes in our behaviour so we stop taking things so personally and acting in defence of something that does not serve us.