There are so many ways to “self-protect”. Some of us withdraw, some get angry, some use humor, some people just get busy and some people get even sweeter. Let’s paint a picture.
You have done a lot for a friend recently, gone out of your way, and when they have an appropriate opportunity to do something for you, nothing. Perhaps you are the only one that hasn’t gotten invited to a party. A friend is in a bad mood and is being very sarcastic and objectionable with you no matter what you say.
The list goes on, obviously. We could all make our own lists from the past few weeks likely.
What is your temptation? If you are like me, you may have more than one self-protection strategy. I usually feel like withdrawing emotionally. When I’ve been pushed really far my anger shows up.
What’s going on with our self-protection? Essentially we are trying to cover over the pain that we are feeling so that we don’t feel it so intensely. Not a bad idea, in theory. In practice it creates problems for us. When we insulate ourselves from the pain that others can cause us or we push them away with our anger we get the desired effect - less closeness to that person. The problem is that it is our heart that we are insulating and it isn’t always very discriminating.
Once we have gone in to self-protect mode we often put many people further out. Our ability to feel and receive love gets diminished. This can pile up leaving us unable to love or be loved well.
You know, one person may have triggered you feeling grumpy but everybody gets to “benefit” from it. So, what do we do.
First of all, it’s important to discern the difference between a truly unhealthy relationship and a basically good relationship with an imperfect person.
Instinctual self-protection needs to turn in to a strategy with better boundaries for truly unhealthy relationships.
Your everyday variety of hurt benefits from some additional strategy.
* Do I need to process this some more (e.g. with a journal or friend)
* Is it possible that if I were under difference circumstances this wouldn’t bother me so much?
* Is there a pattern I can see - either with this other person or in myself?
* Should I communicate with the person involved how I’m feeling?
* Who do I want to show up as in this relationship and in life? What will help me get back to being that person in this relationship?
One thing I say to myself when I’m processing a hurt is “I want to keep being a loving generous person and I’m not willing to let this person’s behavior change how I live my life.”
Where have you gone in to self-protect mode?
What good things and great people is that “self-protection” keeping you from enjoying to the fullest?
Posted on Thu, February 18, 2016
by Marilyn Orr filed under