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Fear and Relationships VI  

I’ve spent five months looking at the impact fear has on relationships and the dynamics that drive that fear. This month I start to address some ways to try to manage fear in relationships so it doesn’t cause such havoc.

One of the first things you can do is become more acquainted with your fear and what drives it in your relationships. While you may tend to shy away from such feelings because they are uncomfortable, getting comfortable with them, or at least getting to the point where you can examine them, may be one of the best things you can do to improve your relationship quality. The more you understand what drives the intense feelings you have, the better you can manage them and keep them from managing you. Putting a label on your feelings and understanding how they work gives you power over them.

You can then use your understanding to manage yourself and keep yourself from being defensive as much as you can. You may ask why defensiveness is such a bad thing, thinking it just makes sense to protect yourself. There are a couple of problems with defensiveness when it comes to relationships. One is that walls, the things you metaphorically create to protect yourself, keep information from getting through and tend to distort the information that does come through. The walls are put in place to protect you so they are sensitive to attack and are likely to interpret information that gets through them as an attack even if none exists.

The other problem with defensiveness is that you likely believe, like some coaches, that the best defense is a good offense, the offense being your own attack. And attack can be destructive. Imagine you were going into a house, had a gun, and expected some threat in the house. If you ran into some innocent person coming around a corner that you didn’t expect you would likely shoot them. Pretty destructive. And while my example may be a little extreme, it does a good job of showing how destructive defensiveness can be.

Of course, if you are going to reduce your defensiveness you have to take care of those feelings of vulnerability somehow. I will pick back up with that next month.