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Defense Mechanisms

Defense Mechanisms
are walls or protective devices that we use to deal with hurts or trauma when we cannot tolerate feeling the pain.  Most of these are patterns or automatic reactions to pain that we develop when we were children. They need to be rethought and updated now that we are more mature. Often, when we find ourselves overreacting to current situations and pressure, it is because emotions from past hurts are spilling over our defensive walls into our present reactions.  How many of these defense mechanisms do you use? How many are you known for? How many times has it said about you by others? Be aware that these could be indicators that your healing is not yet complete.

  1. Rationalizing - "I don't over react often, I don't really have a problem."
  2. Minimizing - "I don't react half as bad as they do."
  3. Sublimating - "I clean house or exercise when I start to feel the guilt again."
  4. Pridefulness - "I've got it together; these other folks are all immature."
  5. Justifying - "If you had a wife/husband/family like mine, you would be angry too."
  6. Projecting - You manipulate and say the other person is the one who is really upset when you are.
  7. Blaming - "It's because they make me mad. It is my job stress."
  8. Blocking - "That's not the real issue anyway; why are you starting a fight?"
  9. Humor - "This isn't serious. Life is a joke anyway."
  10. Intellectualizing - "If I can understand it or analyze it, I have it under control."
  11. Lying - "We haven't had that many arguments; I really get along with everybody."
  12. Manipulation - "If you quit complaining, I'll quit drinking/using."
  13. Accusing - "When you criticize me, it makes me eat even more. You just hate me."
  14. Avoidance - "We'll talk about it later, maybe tomorrow or something."
  15. Threatening - "Get off my back or you will be sorry!"
  16. Judging - "Look, if you just did ______ the right way, you wouldn't be so messed up."
  17. Explaining - "Oh, I am not really well enough to work anymore because . . ."
  18. Analyzing - "I started using more because of ______; it will slow down later."
  19. Arguing - "I am not an alcoholic; I've never gotten a DUI or vomited or passed out or . . ."
  20. Defiance - "I dare you to prove that I'm cheating!"
  21. Denial - "I am not!"
  22. Withdrawing - "If I don't do or say anything, they will leave me alone..."
  23. Shouting - Leave me alone!! I don't want to talk about it!!"
  24. Silence -  "...."
  25. Smiling - Just laugh it off. Nervous smile.  Become the office clown.
  26. Compliance - "I just do and say what they want."
  27. Spiritualizing - "God doesn't see my bad behavior. I'm forgiven."
  28. Fantasizing - "They would never treat me the way they did their last spouse."
  29. Religiosity - "Good Christians don't need counseling. They are already healed."

We all have unconsciously chosen defenses that we use to try to hide our feelings rather than feel them or heal them.  Actually, defensiveness doesn't hide hurts well either.  It has been said there is no such thing as an unexpressed emotion.  It will come out sooner or later. If we continue to try to hide our hurts and don't allow truth into these areas, these hurtful emotions will come out at some point without our permission. We can choose the time and place that we will share those negative feelings or they will erupt when our buttons are pushed. 

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