Defense Mechanisms: Friend or Foe?
Do you look at life realistically or do you find yourself softening situations by looking at life with rose colored glasses? Many times woman will use coping mechanisms to deal with the pain of human behavior. Defense mechanisms can protect you in time of crisis. When used excessively, it creates faulty or distorted thinking.
Defense mechanisms help you cope with adversity. The most common defense mechanisms include:
Are you protecting yourself by over using these coping mechanisms?
Rationalization means that you make an excuse for what has occurred in your life, or you make excuses for your own behavior. As a woman, have you ever said, “I deserve to eat this piece of cake.” when you are on a diet, or “I have had a hard day and I need to relax with a drink.” or “I will buy this outfit because it’s 60% off (knowing you don’t need another outfit).” These are frequently used rationalizations to justify behaviors.
It is not uncommon to want things and to come up with excuses to rationalize why it is ok to pick an unhealthy choice . The problem with these types of excuses is that initially it may help you to justify immediate gratification but in reality it will stop you from making long term healthy choices. Although rationalizations may have helped you to ease the pain you experienced in the world; when used to extremes it keeps you from being responsible for your own behaviors and it keeps you from finding success in your life!
Minimization allows you to decrease the intensity of a situation. When you use minimization it decreases the significance of what is occurring in your life . This may be protective in nature but also sets you up for not acknowledging the pain you may experience or the pain you may cause another person.
When tough things happen to you, you may find it easier to minimize the intensity of your feelings which keeps you from living life to its fullest.
Denial helps you to block what is really happening to you however it keeps you locked into seeing only a small part of what is really happening to you. If you find out that someone has cancer, the defense mechanism of denial might kick in and reassure you that your loved one really doesn’t have the illness and is not at risk for death. Denial should decrease once you get more comfortable with the reality. As you begin to accept the trauma that may naturally occur in your life, you should move out of the denial state. However, if denial does not subside it may keep you in a delusional state making it tough to adjust to the crisis.
People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are often in a state of denial. They do not believe they have a physical addiction and do not realize how their addiction affects others. The denial allows them to continue their behavior that supports the addiction.
As you can see, it is easy to overuse defense mechanisms. Not only does it change the perception of what is happening to you, but it also interferes with how you handle life.
If you are utilizing defense mechanisms as your primary way of coping, take a risk and look for opportunities to deal with the reality of what is happening. It will improve your life and the lives of others around you.