Don’t be psycho! And a special gift idea for any time of the year! 🎁

anxiety defense mechanisms self-esteem stress tension therapy Jan 11, 2022

Ever wonder why your interactions with certain people cause you stress? Ever walk away wondering who the “crazy” one is? Do the conversations seem confusing? And don’t seem to make sense? Do the interactions cause tension for no apparent reason? Do you feel that something is off but can’t seem to figure out what it is? 

Let’s look at some defense mechanisms, which are common patterns,  that (real) therapists look out for.  Defense mechanisms are there to keep out unwanted thoughts from our conscious mind. They are meant to protect us from feeling anxious, to protect us from threats to our self-esteem and from things we don’t want to think about or deal with. They can be very functional and helpful when we need them. 

But, these same defense mechanisms can also interfere and distort our reality.

The concept of defense mechanism were first introduced by Sigmund Freud in his psychoanalytic theory.  Which is why when people say “stop acting psycho!” - it actually makes sense. But I doubt people even realize the reference (… not to sound condescending or anything!).  In fact, many Freudian terms have slowly worked their way into everyday vernacular. 

Becoming aware of our defense mechanisms will provide insight and understanding about some of those crazy (read: psycho) reactions that we have with certain people or scenarios. 

Common Defense Mechanisms:

Denial - Refusing to accept the reality because doing so would be too painful, too scary or too difficult to work through. Ex: you tell yourself you only get angry  “because of the principle of the matter,”and you deny having any temper problem even though your family gets freaked out every time they see you yelling. You consider yourself helping the world, “cuz someone’s gotta be the one to call out how dumb the world is!” 

Or, another typical and tragic example, you had surgery, so you needed painkillers. It’s been 3 months, and you‘re buying the pills illegally because “your back still hurts.” 

Avoidance - Desperately avoiding an uncomfortable situation. Ex: your co-worker or boss or sibling or mother gave you “constructive criticism” and so you ignore their calls and texts for a week. “Oh my, You were calling me?? Soooo sorry! I lost all my contacts!” Uh huh.  

Or, another typical example, you get anxious before socializing, so you skip every  engagement party and wedding and look for excuses to miss family gatherings. 

Regression - Reverting to an earlier stage of development, and begin acting like a child even though you’re (supposedly) an adult. Ex: you’re arguing with your spouse and you start stomping your foot or slamming doors or name calling. AKA, throwing an adult temper tantrum - We like to call those “man-trums!” (I actually lovvve that word).     

Reaction Formation - Behaving the opposite of how you feel. Ex: you’re still mad at  people who criticized but you act overly sweet to them in your next conversation  (though you really want to punch them):  “Hiii!! It’s just sooo nice to see you! You look amazing!!!”… and as you walk away, you snort. 

Displacement -Taking your frustration out on someone who is less threatening. Ex: single teacher just broke up with someone and takes it out on their class. Actually, there are just so many examples to choose from! Fill in your own example! 

Rationalization - Attempting to explain away behaviors or feelings that don’t really match our expectations of reality. Ex:  "That guy I was dating? (who you really liked and thought we were going to get married) Oh him?  Yes, he said no after 6 dates.  But I So. Do. Not. Care. He was soo nerdy anyway! And good luck to whoever marries him -  that boring dude!"

 (…until the guy comes back and says they want to go out a second round). 

Intellectualization - Using logic and shutting off your emotions to avoid feeling. Ex: when you lose a job, you only focus on networking without allowing yourself to feel the loss. You right away explain how it was “meant to be,” so you’re actually thankful that you lost the job! Because you love not having work. It gives you more time at home! 

Repression - Keeping painful memories way way way beneath the surface. Ex: people who have had a traumatic childhood, or who have had dysfunctional relationships with their parents (even if they have little memory of the details) often have trouble forming healthy relationships with their spouse and children. They are reactive in their current relationships - but its not about the present. They are reacting harshly to a memory, yet because it is so repressed, they don’t have access to it, and think they are reacting to the present. The work is to see patterns in our relationships and be able to untangle our past from our present and not to play out scenes from an old narrative.

Projection - Taking your own fears and insecurities and ascribing them to another person. Having a weakness, or any imperfection, but claiming that the people around you are the ones with the problems.  An illustrative example that comes to mind is when a toddler is acting “like a 2 year old,” and they’re screaming on top of their lungs to anyone who will listen:  “you’re such a baby!” Or, you have a roommate in Yeshiva who is such a mess, and he drives you absolutely bonkers. Even though, you’re not that neat yourself.

Becoming aware of our defense mechanisms makes us healthier people. 

Do you ever worry about yourself? Do you find that you or a family member has a hard time being real? Struggle to develop healthy relationships? Very reactive?  Or perhaps emotionally immature? 

What makes us healthier people is being self-aware and in touch with each and every one of our emotions. Knowing our triggers, understanding our own nature and nurture, and developing the skills and knowledge to function in a healthy way  - rather than using common defense mechanisms - is a huge part of having healthy social skills and appropriate emotion management. 

But here’s the Good News!  I created something fun and exciting! Especially for you!

A virtual online course for Adults: Social Skills and Emotion Management for All Ages! (The name of the course is a bit boring but the videos are not!

These fun and easy to watch, short videos will walk you through everything you need to know! You will learn how to develop Healthy Social Skills and Appropriate Emotion Management in yourself. And with your family. I break it down for you and give you all the information in an organized and and exciting way! You will get all the paperwork you need to implement this easily. And best part, you get to watch the videos in the comfort of your own home. What could be better?  

(Perk Alert! With buying the course, I will be available for free consultations to meet your needs.) 

 Not sure what to get your married children? Your grandchildren will thank you! Are you newly married (for the first or second time) and want to learn how to build a strong foundation together so you can raise a healthy (read: normal) family? This is a Great Kosher Movie Night idea! Not sure what to ask for from your spouse? Not sure what to buy yourself? Are you in the dating stage and want to up your game?  Are you a therapist or teacher and want to enhance your skills? Want to buy a gift for your great grandchildren (who aren’t even born yet!)?  No joke! They will actually benefit! Are you a 12 year old child and want to buy this course for your parents so they can learn how to deal with you better?!  

I got you!  

No matter what age or stage of life you are in, you will benefit from this course. I pretty much guarantee it. 

Feel free to reach out with any questions. (Especially how to buy this course for someone else.)

Honestly, this is the best gift idea for almost everyone at any time of the year. I almost feel like buying it for myself🤣





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