(Group week 15, individual therapist still away.)
Group this week was largely on the topic of defensiveness. The way a lot of us react in group is described as defensive and the therapists want us to question this response. To be open to the idea that someone is not trying to hurt us, or that the hurt caused would be bearable.
I’m definitely defensive, in group and in my every day life. I think this is a way of surviving; a lot of my BPD is the response of a traumatised person attempting to protect themselves from further pain.
I think this is encouraged in part by how strongly those of us with BPD feel emotions, we know that pain and we know how devastating and overwhelming it can get for us. It makes sense for us to become hypervigilant about avoiding it.
How much does your defensiveness, in its various forms, protect you? How much does it hold you back or even cause you more pain? Is it possible to hold on to what works and work to eliminate what doesn’t?
I’d like to become more nuanced and careful about how and when I use defensive strategies:
-Find out for sure if I need to defend myself before I go into attack mode on someone who is not really a threat.
-Don’t push everyone away when I am feeling awful, it seems like I’m protecting myself but really I’m isolating myself and making my life more difficult.
-Continue building my assertiveness and confidence in conversation so that I have better skills to simply say if something is making me feel uncomfortable or uncertain before it leads to a meltdown.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments. Do you have the same difficulties? Perhaps you’ve found what works for you?