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  • Writer's pictureRosie

An introduction to 'defenses'

Ever heard someone say "stop being so defended", "gosh your so defensive"...

Psychological defense mechanisms are methods by with we get rid of unacceptable thoughts and feelings from our awareness. It could be that facing the truth of how you feel could be so devastating that you wouldn't be able to function.

Quite simply put; defense mechanisms are the lies we tell ourselves to evade pain. If we find something too painful we push it into our unconscious. This process then distorts our perceptions of reality, both our views of ourselves and personal relationships.

Defense mechanisms are useful for helping us coping with the painful emotions we all experience as humans. When these become used too much they can stop us from connecting with our true emotions, prevent us from accessing important emotions we need to face and inhibit our relationships with others.

Often we confuse anger with aggression and so believe it is dangerous to feel or even express anger and so we can push it down into our unconscious. However, this means that we don't then stand up for ourselves when our rights are being violated and it may affect our ability to cope in the world.

Blocking out emotions blocks out an awareness of our own needs. This can then lead to struggling to build intimate relationships with others. Sometimes our blocks are so well developed that we are unaware we are doing them. We may block out anger and pain by overeating, if we aren't aware of those feelings then we are unable to do anything about the cause of them.

We all develop our own unique individual ways of coping through defenses but the emotions are fairly universal and tend to be one of the following:

1. Contact with others, desiring and depending on them. Feelings of frustration, disappointment and helplessness in those relationships.

2. Coping with difficult and painful emotions- fear, anxiety, anger, hatred and jealous.

3. Feeling good about ourselves and confident in our personal worth in relation to others.

Reflecting on all of the above, can you think about people you know and are close to. Is there things you observe about them that they struggle to see about themselves. Why do you think they don't see it? In what way would it be too painful for them to look at their true feelings?

Now thinking about yourself, has anyone ever told you something about yourself that made you "defensive"? Thinking back on it now, is there an element of truth in what they said?

Counselling provides a space in which the counsellor, through their empathy, can reflect back to you ways in which you maybe avoiding something or reacting against a strong emotion. Through the process of counselling you start to be able to notice your own unique "defenses" how they were developed and the strength to listen to your emotions, understand yourself on a deeper level. Through this greater insight you can build a healthy relationship with yourself and strengthen intimate relationships with others.

Please use my contact form to inquire about how my counselling services in Peterborough maybe able to provide that space for you.

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