Stop Playing Defense
I often walk around with what Urban Dictionary calls "mean mugging" or "RBF" (resting bitch face). When I'm not doing anything, I stand with my arms folded. I make wild hand gestures as I speak. I speak loudly, and most people would say in a forceful tone. I am asked countless times daily if I am upset or sad. The answer is mostly no. I am usually thinking of something mundane like what to eat for dinner or my mind is still. I realize my body language may look like I'm the leader of the Mean Kids Club, but I am simply a defensive person.
For as long as I can remember, anytime someone would suggest this notion of defensiveness I would simply shrug it off to "that's just how I am.” As I have started to grow more into myself I am now starting to ask the deeper question of why I am this way. It was hard at first, for me to accurately dig deep into the root. At first, I blamed others, and looked for whose fault it was. It was everyone's fault except my own. After many years of playing the blame game, I decided to look at it again. Here is what I unraveled:
My first reason for being so defensive is because I honestly believed people didn't like me. I was standing there guarding my self-esteem like those guards at Buckingham palace. If nobody could get in, then nobody could dislike me. I wanted to be sure that my body language and voice made people leave me alone. Yet, I internalized their avoidance to mean that they hated me. I dealt with the people in my home life not liking me. It led me to question, "if these people that I 'belong’ to don’t like me, then how could others like me?
Secondly, I was defensive because I was dealing with a fragile sense of self. You know those scenes of a wounded animal in a trap and the animal tries to rip the heads off anyone that tries to come close? That was me. I didn't fully understand who I was, and even less on how to accept who I was. I was going through so much inner turmoil that it made me not want to let anyone inside. Physically I didn't care about who came near. For me, defensiveness is not about protecting the flesh, it is more so to protect the ego and self-esteem.
It was easier for me to push people away because of my low self-esteem. If I couldn't see the good in myself how could anybody else? It wasn't possible. I often used confirmation bias. I just knew I was unlovable, so I kept trying to find ways to prove it to be true. Every failed relationship, argument with my parents, failing grade, and disciplinary action by an authority figure confirmed for that nobody liked me. It got so bad, I tried convinced myself that I didn’t want people to like me. That was a lie. We all want people to like us-- it's human nature. Most importantly we all want to like ourselves. The more you like yourself, the better you treat yourself resulting in a better quality of life.
If my story resonated with you in any way, I would recommend you act sooner, rather than later. You don't have to listen to me, hell, I didn't listen to me until I was thirty. However, I can say from experience that it’s a burden holding onto years of heavy feelings. One good article I found is by Experts Column called "4 Traits of a Defensive Person". I checked off all four! An easy Google search of “Am I too defensive” can get you started on discovering more about your personality. Once you learn more about your personality, accept it. After you accept it, you must be open to making changes to improve your relationship with yourself and the world at large. Self-exploration isn’t an overnight process, but you will be all the better for it once you are in tune with yourself. So, what are you waiting for? If you want to reclaim your life, start now.