Stop Playing Defense Part II
Ever since I realized I am a person with a defensive personality, I also realized that my personality traits cause me to get in my own way. My first step was realizing that always being guarded was doing more harm than good. In order to combat that, I am currently in the process of rebuilding my personality.
In order to readjust my way of being, it has taken a lot of introspection and desire. I don't want to always be seen as mean or angry. I don't want to spend the rest of my life assuming that people dislike my character. I also don't want to be in my old age, bitter and remorseful about my wasted potential. I am learning that attitude is everything. You can have all the talent, drive and hard work, but if your attitude is poor, then it can lead you nowhere quickly. It has come to my attention that my defensive personality is affecting my attitude. In fact, most people would tell you that my defensive personality is my attitude. I can tell you how kind I am, how much I care for people, how deeply giving I am but all of that gets lost in translation when my defenses come into play.
So what is one to do? I have embarked on a journey to find out what works for me in letting go of bad habits. The best way to change a bad habit is to replace it with good habits. Here is what I've been putting in to practice:
Simply stating affirmations are a way to retrain your brain into believing the good in yourself. In the previous article I stated that my defensive personality traits stemmed in part from negative self talk. I told myself that people didn't like me. Once you tell yourself this on a regular basis it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. So what if we train our subconscious with affirming words? What if I said to myself everyday that I am likable, cared for, and well loved? This may be a foreign concept to you or you might be a skeptic. I too, was a skeptic, however the more I said these affirmations to myself, the more I began to believe them. Make a 30-day affirmation challenge for yourself, and see how your mindset can shift. A Huffington Post article" A Confidence Boosting Exercise Everyone Should Try. " clearly lays out how affirmative speaking can boost your self image.
Another obstacle that formed my defensive personality was my lack of self understanding. I genuinely feel in order to defeat this personality sabotage is really get in touch with who you are as a person. That means ignoring the labels that have been placed on you and no longer living to please others. Simply sit with yourself until you like the person you are. One way that has been most effective for me is to go to my passion and pour myself into it. My passion happens to be writing. I write every chance I get. Keeping a journal really helps me to see myself with fresh eyes. So I write about all the times I am using my defensive personality and what the circumstances were surrounding it. This enables me to go back and see what triggers this defense mechanism in me. In learning my triggers I am able to be prepared to do it differently should a similar situation come about. I also write articles like this where I candidly expose myself so that I am able to hold myself accountable. That being said, whatever your passion is, pour yourself fully into it and use it as a means of self discovery. Use your passion to define who you are and that will replace the need for defending yourself against who you are not. I am certainly not the mean mugs and shoulder shrugs I give off, and neither are you.
This, in my opinion, is the hardest of the three. In this exercise you must be ready and willing to listen and accept things as they are. Speak with a trusted friend or partner, someone that wishes the best for you. Ask this person, "how does my defensive personality affect my life, in your opinion?" Now actively listen. When we hear how having our defenses up is working against us from a person we respect it can incite change. I find this most helpful because often we can dismiss a message if we don't like the messenger. However if someone we care about is effected then it can spark change. Once you have the answers, keep working on refining yourself, not to please them but to become a better version of yourself.
I can honestly say that tearing down a defensive personality is hard work. It is not something that will be acquired easily. Think of how many moons it took to build up your walls. It will take patience to tear them down. I can say that the benefits are rewarding. Most immediately you will smile more because confidence glows through you. Over time you will become more approachable and less hardened. The best benefit I have gained so far is immense trust in myself. I am seeing that I don't need my armor of defense to make it through life. Ultimately you will learn to trust others more. My end goal is a more loving and fulfilled life. I am not 100% there yet, but as they say, patience is a virtue. I am taking my steps to be a virtuous man and I urge you today to join me.