Saturday, March 6, 2010

Dismantling Defensive Scaffolding

Yesterday, I blogged about Having the Guts to Allow Someone to Love You. And I promised an article on how to dismantle the defenses you erected in order to keep yourself safe. Of course, these steps are much easier said than done. So be patient with yourself.

Although these remarks are in the context of having the courage to accept love, the process I am outlining here can be applied to dismantling defenses in general.

Let’s suppose that you have finally seen that you are in your own way when it comes to receiving love. Then what? How do you change that?

Step 1: Realize that you react defensively, knee-jerk style when a spouse or partner shows their love toward you.

Step 2: Develop an observing ego. Do this by metaphorically learning to sit on your own shoulder and watch yourself interact.

Step 3: Initially, you probably will realize you have reacted defensively sometime after the fact. That’s okay. This realization will be a major building block to your ability to stop the pattern.

Step 4: Even when you notice yourself reacting defensively, it is unlikely that you will be able to stop yourself at first. But it is important that you notice your patterned response. Don’t beat yourself up about it. You’ll get better.

Step 5: Finally, you will be able to see yourself reacting defensively when you are in the middle of it. This allows you to back up and start again. Now you can choose a better, more functional reaction.

Here’s a caveat. If you are emotionally invested in a relationship with someone who fits this description, ask yourself an important question. What’s in it for me that I choose to love someone who is emotionally unavailable?

Remember this: It’s a lot easier to want than to have.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Several years ago I was told by my therapist that I was the most perfectly defended person emotionally she had ever met. I had been betrayed by infidelities from a succession of women that I had thought were committed to me. As a result my emotions were sequestered behind such a bulwark that it was impossible for anyone to touch them. In each succeeding relationship when I realized that there was a crack in my defenses I would attack that weakness with brick and mortar. I would not be hurt again but hurt others I did in a succession of failed relationships. For more than 20 years I successfully blocked any emotional connection. After a great deal of work with my therapist I was finally able to actually consider the possibility of love entering my life. It was a struggle to allow vulnerability back into my life but I finally did succeed. I am now married to the woman I wished I would have met much earlier in my life. There is no doubt I am now with my life partner.