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  • Fe Robinson

Loosening your personal defences

“Like a tree, our growth depends upon our ability to soften, loosen, and shed defences we no longer need.” Daily OM

I received an inspiration into my inbox recently that drew the parallel between the psychological defences we create for ourselves and the bark that a tree uses to protect its new growth.  Trees shed their bark each year because it is no longer big enough to surround or contain the tree.  We too outgrow our defences, but if we don’t shed them we stunt our growth and remain constrained within their walls.

It’s important, always, to honour the function defences play.  So often people just want their prickles and symptoms to go away and leave them alone, they want to be free of the impacts in their life of the defences they feel they can not control.  This is to be expected, it is natural.  However, defences are there for good and important reasons. They protect our tender spots, our wounds and hurts.  We tear down defences at our peril if we have not first built resources to support and underpin ourselves.  At our best we can feel safe while being open, honest and vulnerable.  Our defences are there to support us until this is possible.  

Personal growth depends on your ability to soften, loosen, and shed boundaries and defences when you no longer need them.  The very things that were one essential protections become constrictions that stop us developing.  Trees have no choice about when they shed their bark, we do have choice, and we can expand, morph and loosen our boundaries, or lessen and remove our defences as and when we want to.  

Daily OM liken this process as expanding our sense of self so that we are more than just our small sense of self, we widen to contain not only ourselves but what is beyond and around us too.  They say “Each time we shed a layer of defensiveness or ease up on a boundary that we no longer need, we metaphorically become bigger people.”

Both boundaries and defences are often good and protective things.  Like anything else they have their time and place, and some important ones may be needed for a lifetime, for example to protect against unhealthy relationships.  Many though have their season and are ripe for change, particularly the defences.  After all, if you do not perceive attack, what need defence?

open hand reaching out into rainfall


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