Importance Of Managing Defensiveness To Be More Receptive

Defensiveness is an innate human quality that we all possess. This trait is responsible for your instinct to protect yourself from a perceived or real threat. For example, when a person wrongly accuses you of doing something, your natural instinct to counter that claim is your defensiveness. But this instinct to defend varies among people. Some individuals can be more defensive than others. Unfortunately, this trait can overpower your other instincts like rationality and make you too defensive by nature. There is a fine line between being defensive and too defensive.

Is it possible to know the subtle difference between being rightfully defensive and too defensive? Yes, it is.

You can easily recognize if this trait is becoming a flaw. If you have become very quick to take offense and even quicker to defend yourself without even understanding the claims made against you, then you have definitely become too defensive for your own good. This trait might not seem like a big problem, but it can hinder communication between two people. Even the simplest of suggestions can seem like a big offense to a defensive person. Hence, this trait can become a big hindrance to your personal growth if not kept in check.


is very easy to misinterpret others and take an offense. But sometimes, you need to take a step back and ask yourself if your attitude is helping you to be a better human being. Is your compulsive need to protect yourself making you a better partner or professional? If not, then ask yourself what you are willing do to change that.

The History Behind Defensiveness

Every individual has a unique origin story that defines him or her. This origin story of defensiveness would be different for different people. And you can get to know that story only when you dig deeper into their lives. Defensiveness generally has its roots ingrained in the past. Overbearing and nitpicking parents and caregivers can raise children to be defensive. And this seed of defensiveness can be sowed in any child by anyone who has some influence in that child’s life.

The company you keep also plays a major role in the development of this trait. If the people you surround yourself with are always accusing and finding faults in you, then your instinct to defend will always be at the forefront. And this will eventually become a habit that would be hard to shake off.


to say that every defensive person has an untold story. So, if you are struggling with this flaw, it is time for you to dig a little deeper into your past as well as your present. It will help you to figure out your path forward if you knew your origin story.

Defensive Reactivity

Defensive reactivity is the ability of your brain to perceive something as a threat and react accordingly (trigger). This ability to react and its magnitude varies as different people perceive different things as threats. For example, a person who works with snakes will not be alarmed by their mere presence. But there are many people who can’t even bring themselves to look at the photos of snakes. An image itself can elicit violent reactions in them. These reactions differ because the perception of threat differs in people and thus, their trigger points. To some, a snake is a threat, whereas to some, a mere photo. Similarly, some people can feel claustrophobic when they are locked in a small space like a closet, whereas others can feel the same way even in a big room.


idea can be extrapolated to people and their behavior as well. Some people can perceive a simple request as criticism and take offense, whereas others might not. Defensiveness is a great tool that can help you in real offensive situations but this trait might not be helpful in every interaction.

3 Ways To Control Defensiveness

1. Self-Awareness

Be aware about your triggers. Notice if you are feeling tensed and criticized after someone said something harmless. Observe if you are feeling an urge to defend yourself and justifying with yourself to do so. This will help you to notice your trigger points.

Heal Yourself With Kindness

Don’t get angry with yourself when you notice yourself getting defensive. Try to be nice to yourself. Calm yourself down and take things slowly during this time. It will help you to process things better and make better choices. Find a soothing mantra for yourself for times like this that can help you to remain calm.

3. Think Analytically

After you have controlled your defensive attitude, you need to think analytically whether you are being attacked, harshly criticized or just spoken to. You should not look at everything others say as an attack. So, think clearly and observe the person before you jump the gun.

This switch won’t happen overnight. So, don’t lose your patience. When others are ‘criticizing’ you, try to listen instead of reacting in rage. You might discover something new about yourself. Practice mindfulness meditation (by paying attention to your breathing) to calm yourself down and feel connected to your body when you come across your triggers. Laugh more. You will find it easier to handle criticism when you can laugh with others and at yourself.


can be a more receptive human being if you can manage your defensiveness. This will allow you to be more open and happy in life.