"Defense is the first act of war."
What is there to defend?
A colleague calls you "a jerk." Get curious. How might you have stimulated them to say that? Does it really mean anything about you that they said that? Of course not.
Your spouse says that you shouldn't be so picky. You notice a desire to argue or defend yourself. It might be helpful to use undoing fear with "Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I am so scared they think I am picky." Remember, it takes two to argue. Get curious. Listen to them. Ask them to share more with you about the fact that you occur as picky to them. Remember that being curious and listening is different than obeying.
Your boss speaks to you in a way that occurs as disrespectful. Your automatic response is to feel insulted. Did your boss really intend to insult you? Get curious. You might even say to your boss privately, "Maybe I am over sensitive. I apologize, if I am. But, the way you spoke to me occurred as disrespectful. What are your thoughts about that? How did it occur for you? How were you intending for me to respond when you said that?" Get curious. Does how your boss speak to you mean anything about you? Of course not.
A friend asks you to lend them some money. You notice that you feel defensive.
What is there to defend? You know that your #1 job in life is to take care of yourself. Yes, you value your relationship with this person. You'd like to help them out. You want to find a way you can both be happy. Consider using undoing fear with, "Holy cats and jeepers creepers, I'm so scared my friend will be upset with me if I don't lend them money!" Consider the possibility of a Partnership Conversation with them to find a way that you can both be happy regarding their request.
Another factor that can make it difficult to avoid getting defensive is our habit of conflating listening and obeying (or even agreeing). We will have difficulty being present with another person and listening to them (and them feeling listened to by us), if we feel that listening to them is the same as obeying them or even agreeing with them. Listening, obeying, and agreeing are three distinct behaviors that, with practice, can be (and often should be) kept completely separate. When you're able to do this, then is becomes very clear that there's nothing to get defensive about. See Listening for more details.
What is there to defend?
If you accept that your #1 job in life is to take care of yourself...
If you accept that you are the final judge as to what's best for you or not...
If you use undoing fear to let go of defensiveness...
If you use unproving to step into the playground of your life...
If you use undoing shoulds to let go of your fight with reality...
If you say "no" when you need to say "no"...
If you set and maintain the boundaries necessary to take care of yourself...
If you initiate the Partnership Conversation when it might be helpful...
...then you will discover that there is nothing to defend and nothing to prove.
Welcome to freedom!
Welcome to great relationships with others!
Welcome to empowerment!