Our Defenses. Our Mechanisms: The Negative Side


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Image used courtesy of Calvin and Hobbes, created by Bill Waterson

Looks like Calvin already found out his skills of coping with stress in the long run. Well, what about us then? What do you do when you are in a stressful or anxious situation? Have you thought about how you cope and if that is helpful in the long run?
Defence mechanisms are a wonderful and necessary part of life. When your body is in a state of stress, it experiences anxiety and helps us cope with the situation. Now the important part of this is to remember that they are inevitable and yet to some extent, is unconscious by your brain.

To know about defence mechanisms means to also know about the healthy and the unhealthy coping mechanisms. Unhealthy coping mechanisms can result in ineffective ways of coping and stress which can in turn make you perform badly in daily life. Although there are umpteen number of unhealthy coping mechanisms, here are a few that are prominently unhealthy:

  • Denial is simply pretending that the problem or the stressor doesn’t exist or doesn’t affect you. It might sound silly but this is one of most common defence mechanisms used. Starting from when we were kids, if caught doing something wrong, the instant response would be “I didn’t do it!”. Fun childhood, eh? Denial is healthy to some extent but when a person is constantly in denial, the reality of the person shifts; making life hard to cope.
  • Displacement, an example of which is the ‘cycle of anger’. Displacement would mean displacing your feelings- of anger or frustration- on another object or a subject. Sound familiar? Yes, this is another common defense mechanism that is present.

When, say a person is being angry because they are naturally so, but projects the anger as the result of their external environment is, would be called projection. A good example for this would be a chain smoker blaming stress at work to not reduce or quit the habit.

There are always defence mechanisms to back you up. Identify the negative and unhealthy ones that you use to positive and effecting coping strategies.