Unconscious attempts at self-preservation.

I am quite certain that the majority of you have heard the term ‘defense mechanism‘ at least once in your life. They refer to the unconscious attempt to guard our ever so fragile egos. I would like to stress the word unconscious because in my opinion, it is this trait that makes them dangerous.

So, what is the first step to warding off or at least battling unconscious habits? Become aware of them, of course! It is much harder to be mindful of something and accept it when we don’t know such things exist in the first place.

There are 15 common defense mechanisms and I suggest you take a look through them. Try to think back to moments in your life you may have employed such defenses yourself. You might be surprised.

The one that I have recently battled is denial and it will be the focus of this post.

denialSelective Denial by RavenMacabre


Denial is one of the most common defense mechanisms, used for all types of situations. It has been prevalent in my life, consistently blinding me from the harm being done on myself and my life.

Too often I have had to go through the slow process of feeling uncomfortable, not really understanding why. Things like anger, resentment, and (in my opinion the worst feeling) jealousy are triggered by seemingly random situations or images. This is the unconscious side of denial working itself on you; present enough to cause harm yet unwilling to show the truth of the circumstance.

What is most aggravating about this is that trying to battle the symptoms of an unconscious problem does absolutely nothing to relieve yourself of these feelings. You need to find the source; and fast.

Which brings me to the second most aggravating thing, our mind’s idea that this denial is safe and that our ability to handle the truth of the matter is laughable.

Just pretend it’s something else! What’s a little jealousy compared to what’s really going on? I’m sure you’re better off this way. Besides, if you deny it long enough, it will probably just go away!

It will not go away.

Denial ignores problems because it is afraid. Even in the face of truth it will turn away and make excuses. What you need to understand is that you can handle the truth, because handling lies is a lot more destructive and has the potential to damage you far worse than any truth you may face. Notice the little things you say to yourself when faced with unpleasant realities:

  • I’m probably over-reacting.
  • I shouldn’t make this into a big deal, it’s not worth it.
  • I’ll probably look like an idiot if I say something.
  • I don’t want to think of him/her like that.
  • Well, I’m sure they didn’t intend to hurt me.
  • Maybe I was unclear.

The list goes on and on and on and differs with each circumstance. Make a list of them, jot them down when they happen if that helps you keep them in check. Notice patterns of thought and behaviour, question every single thing you think and feel. This will become habitual over time and will start to release you from the grasps of denial and its close friend, avoidance.

I will not deny (no pun intended) that denial is necessary in certain cases. Sometimes we do need time to brace ourselves from what lies ahead. Just ensure that you take the time you need and no more. Unfortunately, the last time I dealt with a bad case of denial, it got so bad I ended up harming myself in more ways than one.

I don’t want this to happen to you.

If you start to doubt a situation, gain more than one perspective. No matter what, the decision is yours in the end, but it is very helpful to speak to one or two people you truly trust about anything you may be doubting. You will never see every angle, as hard as you may try.

As soon as I spoke to someone about my last predicament, I could no longer push the truth away. It did not get easier, but it did release me from certain binds that restricted me from truly getting better. After that, I healed and although it still hurts sometimes, I can accept the truth.

There is still so much to be said about this complex mechanism. I have only touched on one aspect of it, but there are so many more.

Keep your eyes open, even if you have to strain them at first. Let them adjust, and eventually the light won’t be so harsh. We cannot awaken without facing the day’s sunlight after the darkness.



~ by Moonstruck on May 20, 2014.

2 Responses to “Unconscious attempts at self-preservation.”

  1. […] And how do we first begin to battle unconscious habits? Awareness. […]

  2. […] the bad connotations held by the word ‘selfish’. I suppose a better word would be ‘self-preserving‘; whatever your idea of self-preservation may […]

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