Introduction to Defense Style

Every individual who grows up in a defensive society has a defense. This reflects the need to establish an independent identity separate from others. Each defensive identity is a partial view of how we hold our inner masculine and feminine energies. Despite our different gender identities, our evolutionary process guides us to be more creative, reflecting the degree to which we can operate in masculine and feminine energies simultaneously. Therefore, our Defense structure is temporary, which helps us discover our limitations when we do not honor the fullness of who we are. As long as we operate from Defenses, our safety fears and security desires will be our primary motivating force in life, which keeps us from being fully creative. We either deny our authentic masculine and feminine and act in roles (which reflects a Distant or Dis-namic Defense structure) or affirm our masculine and deny our feminine (a Dynamic Defense structure) or we affirm our feminine and deny our masculine (which reflects a Disarming Defense structure). There are also four Defense Styles that reflect that we are between Defense Styles (Distant-Dynamic, Distant-Disarming, Pioneering-Dynamic and Pioneering-Disarming). Eventually, we affirm both the masculine and feminine within us, which is called being Pioneering (see Diagram Defensive Variations).

In childhood, we develop defenses because we do not feel seen or affirmed in a creative manner. The more we experience ourselves as different from our parents or similar in ways that are confusing, the more we are driven to protect our own individuality by taking opposing points of view. Over time, these self-perceptions become more unified into fixed ways of seeing the world called Defense Styles. Initially, Defense Styles make us feel more powerful and clear about who we are. This is because we draw clear boundaries about what works and what does not. Unfortunately, over time, these set ways of operating create the need to attract opposite Defense Style individuals to us. In other words, if we are holding one point of view, we increasingly become attracted to the other end of the spectrum in order to counterbalance our perspective. Defenses, in this way, become positions where we no longer experience flexibility to make a larger choice because we pre-identify and limit our options. Over time, the defense precipitates greater conflicts with others and becomes a major liability because it sabotages our ability to fulfill our goals.

Defenses, therefore, are a temporary means of affirming a part of ourselves that awakens us to the fact that we may be more than we admit. We become free of Defenses when we can ‘be’ and can express ourselves in any particular way without self-judgment or attachment. The three major defensive judgments or attachments are 1) Objectifying ourselves (where we define ourselves in terms of outer appearances), 2) Subjectifying ourselves (where we define ourselves in terms of what we know and compare it to others), and 3) Idealizing ourselves (where we define ourselves by external standards of goodness we have not yet internalized). When we judge ourselves, it fragments our inner awareness into parts of ourselves that we accept and parts we do not. By denying our unique intelligence, we come to rely on the intelligence framework of our parents to protect ourselves. This occurs initially because the negative perspectives of our parents (about how we are operate) are the main issues that need to be neutralized for us to feel safe and secure. The problem is that our defenses are undeveloped and require time to become a more generalized protection mechanism.

We develop our defenses by collecting reasons and rationales for the situation’s being what it is. As children, we commonly use fairy tales or other stories to try to make sense of the dilemmas we find ourselves in. for example, the Cinderella story, where a girl loses her mother and father and needs to deal with a wicked stepmother and half sisters provides a framework for accepting that our situation may not be unique. Each fairy tale creates justification for feeling separated and isolated, and therefore our need to accept the compromises of the situation. In our research, the literal components of the story do not need to be true (such as in Cinderella both parents dying) as much as the emotional experience being metaphorically appropriate. Each defense allows us to believe we will be protected when we disassociate or give up an aspect of ourselves that is in pain. Unfortunately, it institutionalizes the inner conflict and guarantees that we attract the same types of experiences over and over. As the defense matures, we become more adept at distancing and denying our pain because we come to believe in our defense as who we really are, rather than just one perspective.

As we are seeking our inner truth, our reactions to others become the primary indicator that there is some larger truth that has been personally denied. Every reaction we have indicates an unresolved conflict within us. We develop even greater Defensiveness when we superficially examine our reactions and come up with more reasons to avoid deepening our own self-awareness. Distant Defense style individuals are completely run by their Defenses out of a fear that their reactions will be revealed to others if they have any deep conversations. As a result, they tend to keep conversations superficial to protect themselves. Dynamic Defense style individuals like to confront reactions so others will not realize how fearful they are about them. Disarming Defense style individuals will attempt to minimize the reactions of others in order minimize their responsibility. They appear more involved and act as a caretaker so they can minimize the possibility that things will get out of hand. We can only transcend and heal our Defensiveness by being willing to honor the truth about our reactions so we do not have to project them on others around us.

Defenses reflect emotional and intellectual positions that separate us from others. We develop greater understanding and appreciation of our Defenses when we begin with the premise that each of us is both masculine and feminine (particularly on the Intellectual level - Thoughts and Emotions). The more we assume positions about who we need to be to succeed, the more we develop a self concept of who we are that is out of synch with our authentic nature. Some individuals frame this as developing an ego. We call this being identified with our Defense Style, which is how we protect ourselves from undefined differences.

A Defense is a perceptual framework of apparent power, which allows us to justify our choices in the name of personal safety and security. As our experiences become framed by what others think about us, it diminishes and distorts the authentic awareness of our Creative Self. Instead, we identify with our personality ‘self’ which attempts to recover from past objectification by “subjectifying” others with the power of our Emotions and Thoughts.

Defenses originate as a way to maintain our own understanding in the face of adversity. The result is that defenses promote competition. By identifying with our Thoughts we lose sight of the effects that our Thoughts have on others. All we realize is that that our defensive self-perceptions insulate or isolate us from the negative effects of others’ Thoughts. The paradox is the more we judge others, the more we open ourselves up to be judged. When we are caught up in defensive thinking, we get lost in differences and cannot see unifying possibilities. All Defenses are the assertion of our personality self-concept on the Universe, falsely believing the Universe is working against us.

While defenses indicate a maturing of our personality, they also reflect a preoccupation with thoughts as explaining our reality. We either become attached to a particular Thought to explain our circumstance (called a ‘position’) or we justify a course of action to resolve the denial of past or present Emotions. Each defense has its own particular distortion which keeps it from seeing and accepting the larger creative opportunity. In short, we end up defining our self in terms of those around us, which creates artificial ways to distinguish our individual self from others. In this way, defenses act as a buffering mechanism where the dissonance of our internal conflicts isolates us from others’ conflicts. Ironically, we are each creatively different, but our true creative differences become lost when we identify with the defensive differences of others. This occurs because Defenses emphasize the projection of false strengths (where we want to grow and be seen in our developing power) while requiring the acceptance of our way of being by others.

There are three basic defenses (Distant, Dynamic and Disarming) that form the basis for nine defensive patterns. Distant Defense Style individuals are working towards embodying either masculine or feminine energies and are currently caught up in Gender Identity role-playing. Dynamic Defense Style individuals embody the masculine and have yet to integrate their feminine. Disarming Defense Style individuals embody the feminine and have yet to embody their masculine. Disnamic Defense Style is a combination of Disarming and Dynamic. Defenses can be neutralized when we embody both the masculine and feminine simultaneously, which is called being a Pioneer. It is important to remember that defenses are based on an incomplete perception of our Truth, which is neutralized when we accept our full creativity. Instead of arguing for our limitations, let us honor our ability to grow and expand in our wisdom so defenses become a thing of the past.

We are attracted to people with opposite defenses because they are the only ones who reinforce our defensive stories. When we are around romantic partners with the same defense, we end up confronting our own inner Truth and learn how this is different from our defensive perceptions and distortions. Defenses allow us to believe that our half-truths are actually whole Truths. Healing our Defense means embracing the wholeness of who we are and not just the parts. Embracing our wholeness allows our Emotions and Thoughts to work together, creating the possibility of authentic power. When we are able to stand in our Truth and not define ourselves in terms of others, we will have individuated ourselves sufficiently to know and tell our Truth without compromise. Most importantly, healing our Defenses permits us to discover harmless ways to share our Truth without causing reactions in others. This course uses discussion, partner processes and self-reflection to break out of preconceived ways of protecting ourselves. Let us look at our Defensive patterns to determine the lessons they teach, so we can create new possibilities in our lives.

How we relate to others is the whole point of healing our Defensiveness. Until we experience the choice of how we can respond to others, we are trapped in a Defensive way of interacting. This is a difficult proposition for many of us because we get caught up in perceptions that others can discount, deny or ignore our intellectual truth. From past experiences of being hurt, we manufacture the possibility that we can be hurt at any moment and use it to justify our Defensive projections. Others may deny both themselves and our support, rather than affect the expression of our intellectual truth in any way. It is our perception about their perception of us that effectively reinforces the belief that we need to be Defensive. We begin eliminating defensiveness by not reinforcing the line that distinguishes others’ thoughts from our own and try not to artificially distinguish our thoughts from their thoughts, because ways to energetically do this already exist.

The paradox of Defenses is that we have to understand defenses in order to transcend them.Without understanding the motivations of why we separate ourselves from others, we cannot counterbalance and neutralize our energy. This means we need to interpret our imbalance in a way that maintains our harmony with others. The more we believe their outer presentation over our inner reality, the less effective we will be at neutralizing these imbalances. When we step into these zones of fear, we tend to trigger the issues rather than honor them. Healing defenses is recovering our inner flexibility to see and honor all points of view. The more people fixate on proving they are not their fears, the more we must take their fears into account when we are creating a common meaning that can unify us. A more conscious person is prepared to take leadership by holding the reality that things can and will work out. People who have transcended their Defenses know how to connect with others to bring out the more expansive, unified meanings, thus enabling creative possibilities to be manifested more easily. Unless we take ownership of our Defensive framework, it will continue to define our actions in ways that sabotage our Creative Expression.

Our Defense Styles can actually constrict our ability to be creative, because we believe a part of ourselves is our whole Self. In other words, we fixate on a piece of ourselves at the cost of the whole, creating obstacles in our ability to be valued and seen for our contribution. While this focus does add to our intensity and drive us to manifest something that will seem successful, it does so at the cost of our own inner harmony. When we are defensive, we continually try to leverage the perception of our power versus others around us. As a result, we either become overly ambitious, need to be seen as important or become self-righteous in our indignation that others are not conforming to meet our expectations. Each of these three obstacles reflects fears that we are not willing to confront directly. These fears are: not being loved by Dynamic Defense Style individuals, not being adequate by Disarming Defense Style individuals, or not being wanted by Distant Defense Style individuals.

We create positions to protect ourselves when we are not clear that we can just be ourselves and still be accepted by others. Most of the time, our Defenses reflect positions we have seen people adopt in order to demonstrate their power over others. There are three basic types of positions. They are: 1) that we are stable and consistent; 2) that we are strong and resilient; and 3) that we are innocent and flexible. While most individuals operate from one of these positions, if we initially grew up in a Distant family, we could recognize a little of ourselves in all three positions as a way of protecting us with different people or situations. It is also likely that if we had a Distant background, we could over identify with it at the cost of our present circumstances. If we have been able to read this book to this point, it is not likely that we are a Distant Defense style individual. Most individuals who read this book have evolved to either a Dynamic or a Disarming defense style. See if you can identify your defensive experience from these short descriptions.

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© Copyright 2016, Larry Byram. All Rights Reserved.

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