A great deal of defensiveness stems from the need to be right and frustration over not being able to control. This is why defensiveness is a component of suppressed violence within oneself; it is violent to wish to control others. We only have a defensive response when we are trying to protect some inner-territory or some belief. The earthquake of discomfort you feel moving inside of you when someone insults you is your own insecurity. Defensiveness often has little to do with what another person has said, but rather with your ego. It is only your weak, approval-seeking self that is throwing a tantrum for agreement. Most upset is a fear of rejection. Defensiveness and emotional tumult is often a fear response because of your need for acceptance and ruthless control of the territory of your safe fantasy world. Real strength only comes from vulnerability, not toughness. Only true vulnerability can set you free from the anxiety of painful insecurity. Openness is free and flowing — it is a dance, while being closed-off is protective and unmovable. Negative feelings can only exist through your resistance. As you quit resisting they diminish. When you emotionally stand aside from the attack, negative feelings pass by you like a charging bull. When you realize that the defensive feeling you have is a response to your resistance, you are free in that moment.

— Bryant McGill

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