Dropping Defensiveness

A key problem with the ego is the editing experiences of emotional rejection. This can result in not hearing or seeing a problem, which in turn leads to lack of communication and the end of many relationships. Here is an exercise to help you respond more positively:

1. Sit down and close your eyes for a time. Have a pad of paper and pen nearby. Visualize the verbal fights and arguments you have had over the last six months or a year. Live through them. Note how you felt during the argument.

2. Now, in short phrases, write on the pad what each argument was about in terms of facts, not feelings.

3. Close your eyes. Run through each fight or argument again, but this time from the point of view of the person you fought against. Act his or her part, be that person. See yourself as the bad guy. What are you trying to say? How do you feel?

4. Open your eyes. Next to the arguments facts, write down the message you felt the other person was trying to get through to you.

5. Now, under the message, write down a list of behaviors (tone of voice, insulting language, gestures) that make you angry.

6. Make a positive statement about each behavior, such as: “I will not let [list the behavior] blind me to the message.”

7. Next time you are in an argument, remember these statements. Listen. Ignore the tones, insults, and gestures. What is the message being delivered? Often it is very different from the words. For example, your mate nagging you over a chore may really mean “I want attention” or harassing you about your weight issues may mean “I care about you.”

8. Respond to the message–and not the emotion–in a positive way. Do not criticize or say “yes, but. . .” or be defensive. See what happens!

Adapted from Clean Sweep, by Denny Sargent (Weiser Books, 2007). Copyright (c) 2007 by Denny Sargent> reprinted by permission of Weiser Books.
Adapted from Clean Sweep, by Denny Sargent (Weiser Books, 2007).


Aud Nordby
Aud nordby4 years ago


J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

good ideas

Claire Nehring
Claire N7 years ago

This is a good journaling exercise. Thanks!

gail d.
gail dair8 years ago


Anil Sanyal
Anil Sanyal8 years ago

useful information, thankyou for sharing it with others.

Christin Benoit
CHRIS Benoit8 years ago

Good advice to remember. I'll have to save to the 'favourites'. I'm trying to reach people whom I might not otherwise reach. I have created a petition to Health Canada and I hope you will help me and sign and promote it with me so that we can end multiple sclerosis. It's called, "END MS Liberation Treatment" click on the link or go to the petition home page and type the name of the petition in the search petitions area, Petition powered by ThePetitionSite.com. I really think it makes sense and needs to be looked into. If anything, it sounds hopeful for those of us with primary- and secondary MS. Give it a read and decide from there. This treatment coupled with eating right will stick it to MS!

MAJOR development and validation for CCSVI in MS patients. This is great news and I hope this link works, just cut and paste to the address line - http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20100127/ms_treatment_100127/20100127?hub=Health&s_name=

You can also join my group at "MS Liberation - End Multiple Sclerosis". We can do it!

Srini Srinivasan
Srini Srinivasan10 years ago

Great advice this. I've also used this affirmation in Deepak Chopra's book, "Synchro Destiny" for some years. It took only a couple of days for my eyes to really show my soul liked what it heard. In a week or so I was becoming conscious of the triggers that set off the emotional reaction.
The Fire in Your Soul
The fire in your soul will be reflected in your eyes. Whenever you look into a mirror, even if itís just for a second or two, make eye contact with your image and silently repeat the three principles that are the foundation of self-referral. First, say to yourself, "I am totally independent of the Good or Bad Opinion of others" Second, "I'm beneath no one" (I remind myself I am above no one, either, as discussed in the book). Third, "I'm fearless in the face of any and all challenges". Look into your eyes in the mirror and see those attitudes reflected back at you. Just in your eyes, not in your facial expression. Look for the shine in your eyes to remind yourself of the fire in your soul.
I also use this. In a state of reflection I tell myself repeatedly that we humans avoid saying anything to avoid the risk of others disliking us. A friend loves me so much that he/she overcomes fear and takes a big risk for my sake, risk of earning my displeasure to tell me the truth to help me transform myself. After using these affirmations for a month or so I gained the courage to even acknowledge and thank them for caring enough to point it out to me, so I could work on it.

Emma L.
Emma L10 years ago

String a set of "affirmation beads" to use when you get to #6. You'll be surprised at how the affirmations you do become silent messages that actually pop into your head when you need them most.

Rosa Jordan
Emerald Jordan10 years ago

A very timely article. I need it today, especially the part concerning not letting the behavior blind to the message. It has been my experience to find both behavior and message to be not so nice all packed in one. The best way I can respond to the message is to seek wisdom, knowledge and understanding from my creator before doing anything. This approach has worked wonders for me. Today' article presents beautiful strategies.

Lee Speaks
Past Member 10 years ago

I have been using a similar strategy lately- because I found out I only saw the obvious immediately. So- I take a mental"photograph". Then I can look at everything and everyone in a "stop-action" mode. I am amazed by my misconceptions.If I do not place people, or their opinions, above or below me- but rather face to face- I can hear them much better! Thank you for this great info and help!