We learn to defend ourselves from the world at a very young age. These defences become ingrained and we think they are parts of our personalities. We may often dismiss our defences as ‘that’s just me.’
Defences are ingenious as they work by us not knowing that we have them.
Some common defence mechanisms are minimising, repression, denial, intellectualisation and projection. Read more about different Defence Mechanisms here.
It is good practice to develop self-awareness of our own behaviours, thoughts and feelings and work on finding out the reasons for them.
Some behaviours, thoughts and feelings can be clues to underlying issues such as:
- A common physical sign of repressed anger is a furrowed brow.
- You have an addiction to the internet, shopping, alcohol or drugs (anything that is done excessively as a way to manage our feelings can be classed as an addiction). This may be minimised in our thoughts as ‘I just do it to relax, it’s no big deal.’
- Being anxious about being late or breaking the rules.
- You have unexplained panic attacks, anxiety or depression. You are unaware of why you have these feelings and are not sure what triggers them.
- You have a negative self-image and low confidence. You do not feel good about yourself.
- You are very irritable. This can be a sign that we are already dealing with a lot below the surface and this means the slightest thing can often ‘tip us over the edge.’
Through self-discovery we can uncover our defences and resolve them. Resolving them reduces anxiety, stress and a whole host of other issues which having many defences can make us feel.
We can do this in many ways such as reading extensively about the issues we suspect we have and developing self-awareness through mindfulness exercises.
One of the most effective ways to explore and come to understand our defences is through counselling. This is because a counsellor can be an objective observer to our innermost thoughts and feelings and can help to explore our defences and we can then build healthier ones.
As Carl Jung said: