Thoughtful Tuesday: Defense Mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are a part of psychoanalytic theory that subconsciously reduce our anxiety and other worries. In other words, our friend Sigmund Freud hypothesized that our minds use different mechanisms to reduce the feeling of uncertainty in different situations. Though it seems helpful, some defense mechanisms can be harmful to you or others around you.

Being mindful of the inner workings of your brain can be difficult especially when you don't know where to start. Identifying triggers, or things that set off feelings of anxiety, depression or other things, can be a helpful step in the direction of recovery.

There are many defense mechanisms that people use without even noticing. For example, have you ever found yourself changing your opinion for approval? Or have you pretended to like someone even though you aren't really a fan of them? Introjection, or changing your opinion for approval is a way of avoiding conflict with someone. In the moment it may seem inconsequential, however, you are allowed to have your own opinions. Reaction formation, or pretending to be the opposite of what you feel, can also cause negative effects in circumstance.

Though reaction formation and introjection aren't the greatest defense toward anxiety, sublimation can be a more positive defense mechanism. Sublimation is when you put any type of energy into something positive. Whether you are an artistic person, a sporty person, or someone who likes to watch television in their spare time, sublimation can be a great way to reduce anxiety.

Some examples of sublimation can include biking or running long distances after feeling stressed from a long day at work. Some may prefer watching a show to decompress, or even getting all of your emotions onto paper in a journal or on a blank canvas. There are many positive ways to keep yourself emotionally regulated.

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