It seems to me that almost every conflict stems from feeling the need to defend ourselves. I say “feeling the need” to defend ourselves; very often there is no need to defend ourselves, it sometimes just feels that way. This stems from an insistence that we must be right and someone else must be wrong. Anything that strikes us a an attack puts us in a defensive mode so how do we circumvent this knee-jerk reaction? First of all we remember that it is quite possible that neither person has to be wrong.
We often have a tendency to go into a discussion with an idea of what we want the other person to say, how they should say it, and that they must agree with us. This is a certain path to frustration and is an expressway to feeling we must defend our position. This is when we get the opportunity to take a step back and truly hear what the other person is saying and leave ourselves open to remembering that even an idea which is counter to what we thought can have value.
The next way to avoid feeling as though we must defend ourselves to be aware of when we go from acting to re-acting. We are in our power when we act, we are out of our power when we re-act. To re-act is to call upon predetermined thoughts rather than what is going on in the moment. To act is to take into account what is happening right now rather than what we insist must happen.
In my book Think Believe Receive, Three Steps to an amazing life there is a whole chapter about this topic you might find helpful. Check it out at Amazon books.