The offender never pardons.
George Herbert (17c Welsh poet)
In this area we will first consider when protection is really needed. In our complex interactions this is not always clear, so protection is sometimes misused (to justify aggression) or abandoned (to avoid appearing aggressive). After that we will focus on social resilience, responses to adverse behaviour, and assertiveness.
When protection is needed
Unfortunately not all people always have good motives; they sometimes act out of malice, spite, envy, desire to manipulate, etc. It is easier to become a victim if this is not recognised. Giving in to abuse is not a sign of love. Always blaming oneself and finding excuses for others is as unhealthy as always blaming others and finding excuses for oneself. To be a good person you don’t need to tolerate abuse or be submissive. A good person is good towards oneself too, which includes being able to protect oneself; without that, love and benevolence can be taken advantage of. It is also worth remembering that tolerating malevolence may encourage such behaviour not only towards ourselves but towards others too – which, in effect, makes it grow and spread. Some people don’t even have bad intentions but opportunistically go as far as one allows them, so it is important to be able to set limits. On the other hand, overprotection can shut you down and limit your experience.
Furthermore, protecting your weaknesses or character flaws can inhibit your growth (e.g. defending yourself from constructive criticism may stop you from improving). We need to protect our freedom, integrity and dignity, but we do not need to protect our egos, mistakes and flaws. This is why it is important to know when protection is needed and what you are protecting. To check if you really need protection you can, for example, ask yourself, ‘What I am trying to protect here? Am I really being attacked? Is this person being deliberately malicious?’ Very often the latter turns out not to the case, but let’s see what we can do if it is.