Defensiveness is a strong indicator for change. Anytime that we are defensive about something, it should serve as an indicator for an area of growth. We become defensive about the things that we are not yet consciously aware of and do not hold to be true about who we are. If someone says you are selfish and you don’t believe this about yourself, you would simply disagree.
The exact opposite is true when someone says something that you do believe about yourself, even if you are not consciously aware of this belief. If someone said that you are mean, and you believed that you were, you would become upset, perhaps argumentative, defending your character and standing by your belief that you are not mean. Your response to the statement serves as evidence of your meanness more than your words do. We do not argue about things that we do not believe to be true.
When you become defensive, acknowledge your feelings and say to yourself, “There is something for me to learn from this.” The next time that someone says or does something that makes you feel uncomfortable or defensive, use this as a learning moment. We have a tendency to project our feelings on to other people without first acknowledging and accepting those feelings. Projection does not cause healing, even if it may temporarily serve as a release, it does however keep you in a cycle of denial, guilt, and shame.
Emotional intelligence requires understanding your emotional behavior and response. We can improve our emotional intelligence by first recognizing and accepting our emotions and choosing to create a different, more positive response. Use your defensiveness as a resource to help you with improving your emotional intelligence. Becoming defensive does not resolve the problem, it exposes it.