Defense Mechanisms

CannonUnconscious mental processes used to try to protect our ego from suffering harm

Denial is a useful defense mechanism until it’s not. Rosalind Kaplan

Ego is simply an idea of who you are that you carry around with you. Wayne Dyer

Work joyfully and peacefully, knowing that right thoughts and right efforts will inevitable bring about right results.  James Allen

  Our subconscious minds are always guiding, directing, and protecting us. One of its activities is questionable. It tries to alter reality by engaging in various self-defense mechanisms such as denial, projection, rationalization, repression and others. It allows us to lie to ourselves. We do this to help us feel better about ourselves.                                                 

   We have egos and self-images to protect. We must be able to live with ourselves by thinking well enough of ourselves to function, at least on a marginal basis. Without this basic structure, we would have a much harder time functioning. Our subconscious constructs these defense mechanisms without our permission. This is an instinctive process, over which we have little control. Fears, self-doubts, feelings of inadequacy, poor self-image, and a whole host of other subconscious perceptions of ourselves are all wrapped up in our self consciousness.

    Self-issues cause us to feel inadequate and incapable. In order to “venture out”, engage in life, deal with others, go to work, talk with others, and so forth; we have to protect our “vulnerable inner self” from the outside world. We erect walls of protection from within. Defense mechanisms can be extremely complex with layers and layers of levels of “self-protection”. Sometimes, it is relatively easy for us to spot these conditions in others.

   Think of the person who talks “big”, claims to be brave, yet is a coward and turns to “mush” when confronted. What about the person who never accepts responsibilities for their inappropriate behavior and “projects” their inadequacies and issues onto someone else (“It’s not my fault”)? What about the person who is afraid to develop a close relationship with someone else because of their extreme feelings of inadequacy. There are many examples of things people do in order to “cover up” and protect themselves.

   Many of society’s woes are the results of extents to which we go to hide behind our weaknesses. While it may be relatively easy to spot these conditions in others, we should become increasingly aware of our own defense mechanisms. Our subconscious creates them to protect us. They actually prevent us from dealing with reality and truth. Defense mechanisms prevent us from overcoming weakness and inadequacies by allowing us to hide behind and inside them. We need to know the truth about ourselves so we can deal with our weaknesses and grow beyond them. Truth and reality actually sets us free.

Challenge:  Chances are you are somewhat familiar with your personal “arsenal” of defense mechanisms. Hopefully, you are engaged in dealing with them. However, as you uncover some of the more simple ones, you may well find others buried underneath. The challenge is to confront them, to be increasing honest, and to overcome the causes and issues that allow them to exist in the first place, and to ultimately “grow” beyond them.

WisdomThe great corrupter of public man is the ego….Looking at the mirror distracts one’s attention from the problem. Dean Acheson

Spiritual: (NIV):

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.  Proverbs 3:31

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God, may they be happy and joyful. Psalm 68:3

When we focus on self, we are likely to have problems with loving and liking ourselves. The more we are free to think of others, help others and spend our time and thoughts in loving others, the more likely we are to have healthier self-images. In order to be free to truly love others, we must be free from the self. We cannot do this on our own. If we allow God’s love to flow through us, we can truly be free to both love our self and others as well.

Prayer:  Help me to see the “truth” of myself. Help me to become what you want me to be.

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