As individuals we can come up with some creative defenses to protect ourselves from appearing vulnerable. One of my favorites is the “I Know Defense.” When someone makes a suggestion, critique, or comment, an easy retort some of us can slip into is the “I know…” Now, why is this a
defense? Well, just think how with this one phrase the conversation is essentially shut down. No more discussion or input needed. You have just effectively told the other person that you do not want them to contribute and they can just leave.
Why do we use this, especially when we are actually having difficulty with something? This is an attempt to protect ourselves from either judgement form others or from internally. If we make a mistake but “know” intellectually what we did than we are not wrong. We are not stupid. We do not need help. So no one else out there can think that about us and any shame or embarrassment we may feel is wrong. Sometimes the comment is actually directed at ourselves. We are attempting to stop that little voice inside that says we are not enough. That somehow we are not as good as others.
While others can hurt us and can cause us pain, that pain is fleeting. It is truly ourselves that are our greatest abusers emotionally. So we use defenses to protect against that voice we hear inside that may sound like someone else but is really us. The way to combat this is to be open. We use defenses to shut out, to shut down and then all we are left with is that inside voice. So open up. Take feedback from all…remember you do not have to agree with it or use it. Just be welcoming to it.