This week, I thought we could explore our own defense mechanisms, rather than talk about others.
To illustrate my point, I am going to introduce you to my three defense mechanisms:
- The Righteous Ice Queen--This is my defense mechanisms that kicks in when I compare and find myself lacking. I look at other people and see something that I lack, then my ego kicks in and comes up with all sorts of faults for this other person. I judge them and criticize them, so that I can then feel better about myself.
- The Frenzied Martyr--This is my defense mechanisms that kicks in when I am feeling like I don’t measure up in terms of my competencies or skills, usually around work. When I am feeling this way, I race around and try to help and solve other people’s problems, and do them the best that I possibly can so that I can look good in the eyes of others who might be evaluating or judging me.
- The Armored Angel--This is my defense mechanisms that kicks in when I am wary of new people or new situations. I hold back. I don’t let people in. I armor myself up so that they cannot see my vulnerabilities and faults, when deep down I am really a kind soul, even though I may not appear that way on the outside.
So, you may be wondering why my defense mechanisms have names?
This is an exercise that I did with my own Life Coach before I became a coach, but have since learned about it’s importance.
When we can name, or give a personality, to parts of ourselves that may not always be in our best interest, we can set them apart from our whole self. They cease to be who we are, but more of a small character that lives within us and sometimes comes forth.
When we can name our defense mechanisms, we can better recognize them when they kick in, and we can better reign them in. “Name it to tame it.” Remember, your defense mechanisms come forth when your ego needs protecting, but your ego isn’t you.
When these mechanisms kick in, they disconnect us from others, and cause us to act in a way that may not align with our core values or our commitments.
Last week I talked about how Brené Brown qualifies these defense mechanisms in three ways:
- Moving Away--when we hide
- Moving Toward-when we people please
- Moving Against--when we fight
So, let’s try this with you. Use these questions to start thinking about your defense mechanisms.
- Think of a situation or situations in which you felt ashamed, how did you respond?
- Think of situations in which you moved away or tried to hide or keep a secret, what was the precipitating event?
- Think situations in which you tend to people-please, what are the circumstances?
- Think of situations when you get all hot and bothered and wanted to punch someone, what are the commonalities in those situations?
Now that you have some images in your mind, what defense mechanisms come out to play when? Or better yet, what circumstances trigger which defense mechanisms?
What could you name your defense mechanisms? What personalities do they have?
I like to play around with words and use alliteration, so if that works for you, great. The key is to make them memorable. I had their names on post-it notes around my bedroom and office for awhile, until I could relate to them, but also see them from a macro-view.
They are a small part of me, but not me.