How Guarded Are You?

Keeping our hearts shielded can keep us at an arm’s length from pain, but putting them up constantly can be an unhealthy way to handle uncomfortable feelings and emotions.

Take the below quiz to find out what best describes you in each of the following scenarios and you will discover your defending style.

You got passed over for the job that you thought you should of had. You:

a)    Make excuses that your boss has something against you or favours your colleague over you

b)    Shrug it off; it wasn’t really important to me anyway

c)     Know that if one door closes, another one opens; there’s something better out there for me

You have been dating someone you really like for some time but he/she rarely returns your calls or initiates meeting up. You:

a)    Believe that he/she is just really busy with work and other commitments that can’t wait

b)    Jokingly tell the person that you hardly get to see them

c)     Realise that the person may not be that interested in you and let he/she return some interest before you go any further

You are the first to arrive at work in the morning and last to leave at night. This is because:

a)    You get kudos from your co-workers for being such a dedicated and hard worker

b)    It’s what the company expects once in a while when business is busy, so you do it

c)     You genuinely love your job and don’t mind putting in the extra hours to get things done

You spend hours on online games, social network websites and watching movies at home. This is because:

a)    You don’t have much of a social life

b)    It’s not really worth the effort going out when you can do everything indoors anyway

c)     It’s only a good way to pass the time when nothing else is happening

Your social life is so busy that you haven’t seen your family in a couple of years. This is because:

a)    You want to show your family that you don’t need them

b)    They make too many demands on you so you limit the times you spend with them

c)     Your spouse / profession / lifestyle is full of commitments, but when you do see your family you really make the most of it

You find out from a friend that you have hurt someone with an off hand remark. You:

a)    Think that person is way too sensitive and should lighten up

b)    Realise it may have been hurtful but don’t do anything about it; you don’t want to look like you were in the wrong

c)     Apologise

Someone at work tells you that you’re not meeting the expectations of the company. You:

a)    Freeze up and come up with the worst possible comeback

b)    Want to run, yell back or cry but do it later

c)     Talk back firmly and assertively about how this could be the case

When someone comments on how good you look you:

a)    Think they want something from you or have a hidden agenda

b)    Smile, they are just trying to be nice

c)     Say thank you – you look great!


Circling A takes real honesty. While it’s understandable that no one likes to feel rejected or negatively evaluated, you are likely to be the kind of person who is living with this fear of getting hurt and tend to have a closed heart. In all situations, give yourself permission to feel genuinely and intensely. Experiencing the full scope of your emotions—dread, resentment, sorrow, love, delight—allows you to know yourself better and achieve greater intimacy with others. Imagine having relationships that go beyond superficial interactions and are rich with communication, empathy and potential. The only thing stopping you is you.


If you circled mostly B, you have a relatively open heart but can also tend to fall back on denial, humour or any other defender of the heart, in challenging situations. It’s better to feel hurt, even to cry sometimes than to cover up your feelings so much that you forget what they are. Otherwise, what you really want out of life will go unnoticed, hindering progress and growth.


If you circled mostly C then you often feel the weight of your emotions in any given situation and deal with them openly and honestly. You have an open heart and can empathise with others. You also believe in the love and abundance of the universe and see setbacks and challenges as part of a life.

Defenders of the Heart: Managing the Habits and Attitudes That Block You from a Richer, More Satisfying Life by Marilyn Kagan and Neil Einbund, Hay House, RRP $24.95, is available at all leading retailers.

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