From Dismissal to Reflection: Transforming Defensive Reactions

I was in a meeting, and someone there said something that, to me, sounded sarcastic and dismissive. I immediately, automatically, became defensive. My way of becoming defensive is to dismiss the person speaking and carry on. That generally works because it causes minimal disruption and I feel it doesn’t make others feel uncomfortable. But I felt uncomfortable, and perhaps others did too and were protecting themselves in a similar way.

It’s a sore spot for me. We all have sore spots, and we all protect ourselves when those sore spots are triggered. Most often, we protect ourselves in a way that works and helps us, but also very often, there’s something about that form of protection that leaves a negative residual.

In my case, it prevented me from checking out my projections, and left me judging the person negatively instead. Since that meeting, which was quite a while ago, I’ve learned to sense when I’m triggered like that and use a different way of coping: I smile, very much like the speaker in the Ted Talk below – Joseph Lewis.

I smile and take a breath, and focus on listening to what the other person is saying. I haven’t forgotten myself and my needs, but this helps me to assess how important this experience is to me and how I want to take it in. It also helps me to stay with the person who is talking.

You might say these two responses are both coping strategies. But I don’t believe so: the first is a trigger reaction; the second is a genuine response, and as such, has no negative residual.


Quote of the Week

Facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get through. Face it.”

– Conrad Joseph


Finding your coping mechanism


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