We all like to control life. It is bred into us. We need to control our food to eat it. We need to control our home to keep it in order. We need to control our relationships to give us a sense of identity.
That last item in the list is an interesting one. Just to repeat it: ‘We need to control our relationships to give us a sense of identity.’ Put another way, we need to feel reasonably free and in control of ourselves, in order to give others of our best. If we experience others as destroying our freedom, it is very hard to view them generously, because we may be too busy defending ourselves.
Most people are familiar with the word defensive as applies to relationships. It refers to the way we jump to our own protection so quickly, that it compromises the richness of the relationship itself.
There are a number of ways we do this, both overt and covert. Some examples, in descending order of overtness, are:
Hurtful or disparaging language
The problem is, defensiveness often only provides temporary solutions. Violence and aggressive language result in harm and repercussions; argumentitiveness and passive aggressiveness can result in confusion and impaired relationships; and avoidance can result in loneliness.
Fortunately, there are other ways to achieve the aim of regaining respect and freedom in relationships. In particular, there are:
Setting of boundaries
Transparent articulation of difficulty
We all like to feel respected in our relationships, and when they go wrong we like to defend ourselves, resorting to a series of defensive tactics.
With a little moderation, however, a new set of social tactics can be developed, with a better chance of relationship success.