Psychology and Healing: On Stating the Facts, Assuming Blame and Other Defensiveness

The human psyche is a weird and wonderful place, as well as mysterious and often unfathomable.

Lately, Mrs. Denmarkguy and I have been talking quite a bit about Non-Violent Communication (NVC) as it applies to our lives, and to the greater world.

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Then we got onto the delicate subject of how many people infer blame from factual statements, and then take offense at what was said (the facts). Often, they do so quite aggressively and even combatively.

Let me offer a simple hypothetical example.

Bob comes to me, somewhat irritated, and asks "Why is my hoodie wet???"

I reply "The hoodie is wet because it was on a chair outside and it was raining."

That sentence is simply a statement of fact that addresses Bob's question in the simplest possible terms.

But then Bob continues — as MANY people do in such situations — with: "Are you judging me? You think I'm stupid because I left it out there!"

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You may recognize having been part of conversations like these — and maybe even reacting in such a way, yourself — and they tend to be at the root of why many arguments and fights start.

The underlying reality is that Bob's response likely has little to do with the wet hoodie, OR with my telling him how it got wet. It has a lot more to do with Bob's and my relationship, and particularly with past experiences, irritants and projections in Bob's life... that probably have nothing to do with me.

We don't know, absent a bunch of psychotherapy and deeper probing into the situation. Maybe Bob was extensively shamed and belittled by his parents whenever he left his clothes somewhere; maybe they called him "stupid" for doing so.

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These projections are surprisingly common, though.

Very often, they occur in relationships... particularly during the "dating" stage.

I remember really discovering this after my first marriage ended and I was (briefly) part of the dating scene again. It was truly remarkable how often women I barely knew would project the attributes of their exes onto me, "assuming" that my saying certain things would result in my taking actions that never entered my mind, and that I would respond in a specific way. based on a certain thing they said.

Made me sit back to consider what I might be projecting outwards... leading to some serious soul searching.

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I does take a fair amount of self-awareness to recognize when you are "reacting to a memory" as opposed to actually responding to the present situation. And that holds particularly true if we learned our life strategies from being part of an abusive situation.

Sadly, so many of us have been exposed to such situations... and we often become needlessly aggressive and defensive when someone trips one of our triggers.

Taking a little time to sort out why we are offended by seemingly harmless statements can be an important part of healing the many wounds of our psyches.

Thanks for reading, and have a great remainder of your week!

How about YOU? Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where someone became hostile over what seemed like an innocent remark? Have YOU ever found yourself responding to an OLD memory, when someone was talking to you? Comments, feedback and other interaction is invited and welcomed! Because — after all — SOCIAL content is about interacting, right? Leave a comment — share your experiences — be part of the conversation!

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Created at 20211012 22:12 PDT

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