How to Overcome Defence Mechanisms
Changing your habits takes a lot of work and you might have not been aware of relying on defence mechanisms until now but paying attention to how you react to upsetting situations and taking baby steps will help you improve. Here’s how to get started:
1. Learn to recognise when you’re relying on defence mechanisms
You might not always be aware when your behaviour stems from a defence mechanism but we all rely on those unhelpful strategies once in a while. When you experience discomfort, focus on the way you respond to that feeling and see if your behaviour matches anything from the list of 10 defence mechanisms that you can find on our previous blog.
2. Understand why using defence mechanisms is harmful
Once you become more aware of your negative habits, consider keeping a journal where you talk about a specific defence mechanism you used in each situation and its outcomes. This will help you spot negative patterns even more and you’ll soon understand that defence mechanisms are just a way of avoiding how you feel, which will only cause problems in the long run. For example, if you were worried about completing a project and procrastinated doing it so ended up having to rush it and didn’t perform as well as you expected, you might realise that it would have been more beneficial to deal with feelings of discomfort straight away.
3. Practice radical acceptance
Not everything goes according to plan in our lives and some degree of pain is to be expected. Acknowledging that negative emotions are a part of the experience and that your response to upsetting situations is the only thing you have control over can help you process them better and be happier as a result. When something unpleasant happens to you, try to acknowledge it as your reality. Remember, just because you accept that something happened or that someone hurt you doesn’t mean you believe you deserved it or that it was the right thing to do.
4. Try to form new positive habits
The best way to start is by embracing your emotions. When you feel upset, don’t run from the feeling of discomfort and tell yourself it’s okay not to be okay sometimes. You can also work on developing new coping skills such as deep breathing that can be used to deal with stress or anger.
Sometimes it can be too challenging to unlearn harmful coping skills on your own and it’s best to reach out for professional help. Contact My Family Psychologist to see how we can help