Defensiveness: Cleaning and Different Defense Mechanisms

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The definition from Dictionary.com of defensiveness is “Intended to withstand or deter aggression or attack.” What are we guarding ourselves against? In many cases, defensiveness is a way people defend themselves when they are confronted with a face-threatening act. We recall that a face-threatening act is a message that can seem to challenge the image we want to project. Defensiveness is then the process of protecting our presenting self, our face. There are a few different defense mechanisms that people use.

Rationalizations are logical but untrue explanations of behavior that is unacceptable to the self. An example of this is with my boyfriend, Spencer. Spencer asks me to help him with his laundry a lot since he never has time to do it. When Spencer asks, I normally tell him yes. Last week, Spencer asked and I was really fed up that he couldn’t do his own laundry. I came up with a quick excuse that I had a lot of my own laundry and household chores to do just so I could get out of doing his laundry. Although I didn’t have that much to do, I did not want to do his.

Compensation emphasizes strength in one area to cover up a weakness in another. You might try to convince yourself and others that you are a good friend by compensating. Another example again is with my boyfriend Spencer. I told Spencer I would make him dinner last week while he was at football. Spencer is very busy with football and never has time to make himself dinner. On Thursday I was supposed to have dinner ready when he got done with football. I totally spaced and decided to hang out with the girls instead. Spencer called me right after football and I was at a girlfriend’s house watching movies. I felt so bad so I immediately compromised by running to get Spencer a good meal from Chili’s and make sure he still got dinner although it was not home cooked.

Regression is when you claim you can’t do something when in actuality you just don’t want to. This happens a...
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