Shining the light on your defensive behavior

Before you can stop making the malicious assumption and following it with defensive responses, you need to see how these behaviors play out in your life. Therefore, we suggest you track events in which these behaviors crop up. Use the following instructions as your guide. (After you identify your own defensive behaviors, we give you an alternative to defen-siveness and explain a method for dealing with truly hostile criticism in a way that may lead to better outcomes.)

1. Whenever your partner says or does something that you feel may have been intended as hostile, write it down in the left-hand column of Worksheet 16-2.

2. In the middle column, write down how you interpret what happened. Try to be honest; don't clean up your reaction (or your language!). Say how you really feel about what your partner said or did.

3. In the right-hand column, jot down how you respond, and analyze your response for defensiveness: Did you try to absolve yourself of all blame, or did you counterattack in some way?

Worksheet 16-2 My Malicious Assumptions and Defensive Responses

Initial Communication or Action

Malicious Assumption

Defensive Response

Review your malicious assumptions and defensive responses. In Worksheet 16-3, reflect on how they may be causing problems in your relationship.

Worksheet 16-3 My Reflections

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