Defending ourselves: Protection that endangers

shutterstock_120554500How do you protect yourself from discomfort in troublesome situations?

Do you withdraw? Attack?
Do you laugh it off?
Do you go into judgment or justification?
Do you blame someone or something?
Do you avoid the topic?

We’ve all been wounded at different times in our lives. This has brought us physical, emotional and/or mental pain. Because we don’t want to experience the pain again, we adopt ways of defending ourselves.

Here are some examples of defences in action:

  • If my heart was broken at one time, I might withdraw from any relationship that seems ready to move into intimacy.
  • If I have been humiliated, I may play the clown so it’s okay if people laugh at me.
  • If I have repeatedly been the target of someone else’s anger, I may deny that I ever have angry feelings myself.

The problem with defences is that we usually move into them UNCONSCIOUSLY. We don’t realize what we’re doing. This means we also don’t realize what we’re really feeling inside. We lack knowledge of our own reality.

When our subconscious is in charge, we treat all similar situations in the same way. Whenever we feel threatened, we unconsciously put up our defences in an attempt to stay safe and secure. We’re unable to consciously choose what we want.

It follows, then, that a defence designed to protect us from harm becomes harmful itself when it takes away our freedom of choice. It keeps us stuck. It limits our ability to learn and move on. Although my heart was once broken, I may be ready to try again but my unconscious impulse to withdraw won’t let me get close enough to love someone new.

How do we free ourselves from these hidden traps? By becoming aware of them. We do this by paying attention to our own behaviour — by watching how we react to different situations. Try this: Set an intention to slow down how you do life. Build a habit of pausing before you act or react. STOP for a few seconds to get in touch with how you are really feeling and be honest in your response.

Once we can detect a defensive pattern in action, we can choose to release it. With love and compassion for ourselves, we can honour this pattern’s role in our past and open to new possibilities in each moment.

For insights into how you may insulate yourself from genuinely experiencing life, see our list of common defensive actions at

“You cannot avoid truth. It is better to face it, it is better to accept it, it is better to live it. Once you start living a life of truth, authenticity — of your original face — all troubles by and by disappear because the conflict drops and you are no more divided. Your voice has a unity then, your whole being becomes an orchestra. Right now, when you say something, your body says something else; when your tongue says something, your eyes go on saying something else simultaneously.”

— Osho

~ Meet you in Higher Awareness! ~

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