Which of the following doesn’t belong?
As far as I’m concerned, the correct answer is 5. While everything else protects us one way or another (against crazy drivers or a flu epidemic, for instance), the ways we protect ourselves when we’re anxious can hurt, more than help.
Anna Freud, Sigmund’s daughter, defined ten ways we become defensive, including rationalization (you’re anxious that you may loss your job so you rationalize that your boss doesn’t know what he’s doing), rejection (you tell your sister she’s wrong when she advises you to be less emotional), and reaction formulation (you act completely opposite from the way you feel e.g. you detest a new colleague and you act like you love him).
If we didn’t have defense mechanisms, we might go crazy, as in kill our new boss or be haunted by self-doubt. But we can’t let our defense mechanisms subconsciously take over and prevent us from dealing with a problem. A woman I know refuses to understand that she’s overly critical of her daughters, and they are starting to avoid her.
I work hard to sense when my defense mechanisms are rising to the surface. I try to stop myself by saying: “I am overreacting and not being realistic. I will not die if I act calmly when someone questions something I’m doing. I don’t have to keep debating if my friend doesn’t see my point of view.
One of the beauties of being FOF is letting your defenses down.
*Song from “Annie Get Your Gun”