Deal with it.
You might have heard this in your life a million times from various people’s mouths about various situations. It’s pretty sound advice too. Think about the numerous issues you’ve encountered in your life, big and small. Relationship issues, work issues, friendship issues, personal issues. On a daily basis, shit happens. Good or bad. Usually with the “good shit” there isn’t a lot to deal with. A lot of the times when the good stuff happens, we smile and keep on with our lives. A lot of times, good results are the cause and effect of going after goals and passions. Or Karma. You can spin it any way you wish. The good stuff is always the easiest because of the reward factor.
We’re talking about the not so good shit.
So what is a defense mechanism? A defense mechanism is a tactic developed by the ego to protect against anxiety. Defense mechanisms are thought to safeguard the mind against feelings and thoughts that are too difficult for the conscious mind to cope with. In some instances, defense mechanisms are thought to keep inappropriate or unwanted thoughts and impulses from entering the conscious mind.
Because of anxiety provoking demands created by the id, superego, and reality, the ego has developed a number of defense mechanisms to cope with anxiety. Although we may knowingly use these mechanisms, in many cases these defenses work unconsciously to distort reality.
Avoidance is something a lot of people do, and they aren’t even aware of it, when it comes to facing issues in life. Some will subconsciously shut down and be in complete denial of a situation. Others will turn to substance to ‘escape’ from having to deal with issues. Or turn to various addictions to feed the anxiousness of having to face any sort of pain. Others will do absolutely anything to avoid confrontation. For confrontation usually means being called out for their wrong doings.
Shutting down socially or “stuffing the issue” is a form of denial. Knowing full well there is an issue but the mind tricks itself into thinking it will just go away, instead of being dealt with. What this does is tells the individual that their problems are not worth expressing, that their issues are not important enough to face or get help with. And there are many small issues that come in up in life that you can move past without a great deal of effort. It’s the ones that are large and damaging that some people wish to avoid due to pain. So with this, certain defense mechanisms will be used.
Escaping is a form of avoidance, and a defense mechanism. I know this because I lived it as an alcoholic. It’s far easier to drink or drug yourself into a hole than have to look in the mirror. And this can tie back into “stuffing the issue” down. It’s like trying to push food bits into a sink drain that don’t fit with more liquid instead of picking the bits up and throwing them into the trash. The more you use this as a defense, the more it becomes your habit on dealing with most anything. Before you know it you’re living in a constant state of escaping. If you do it enough, you can convince yourself there was never anything wrong, and you have a whole new set of issues.
Using this tactic, you in turn, do nothing to deal with the issues or confrontation of the problem. It’ll be there, and if it’s inter-personal, you leave the other person in charge of bringing up an issue they were not the cause of. It’s negating responsibility. Hoping it will simple go away by doing nothing.
To define this, remember that “denial” and “Problem manipulation” are very different. One is a defense mechanism, the other a manipulation and responsibility avoidance tactic. One is an unconscious mechanism of protection from deep emotional pain; the other is a deliberate, calculated lie. Yet many use the same term to describe these very different behaviors. It is distressing to me how often even mental health professionals presume that there is only one type of denial and how often they assume that whenever denial is involved that it’s of the defense mechanism variety. People who are still “in denial” about one problem behavior or another when what they’re really describing is a person who is still “lying and manipulating” as part of the game of impression management and responsibility-resistance.
Denial, repression, suppression, displacement, sublimation, procrastination, regression, Intellectualization …all ways to put up defenses and avoid dealing with issues.
The ways to overcome these are not complex, they just take someone to be brave and admit certain thing to themselves. Recognize that avoidance coping doesn’t work. At the end of the day, avoiding just means you’re still stuck with it. Ever heard the expression ‘where ever you go, there you are?” It’s the same tactic alcoholics use when they think moving to a new city will help them escape internal distress. It is called a geographical avoidance. Avoiding it is impossible because within you, the issue still exists.
Also recognize what avoidance is costing you. The added guilt or stress that builds up from it, can eat like a cancer. It can subliminally effect relationships, how you perform on a daily basis, how you think and talk about people or interact with people. It can become an invisible demon on your shoulder at all times.
It all comes down to two things: learning to face uncomfortable situations and not bottling up. Yes, all bad situations are uncomfortable. They aren’t “fun” to deal with but from personal experience, facing them head on will get you better results than acting like they aren’t there. I’ve had many friendships in the past become damaged from trying this. The guilt from doing this to people who have done nothing wrong in situations will eat at you, and you can only out run it for so long.
Which means, get it out. Talk about it. Bring it up. Find the person involved, whether it’s a boss, or lover, or friend, or family member, and get it out there. Express yourself from a non-accusatory stand point and an honest place as well. It’s vital in order to cleanse yourself of all the negativity and bad energy stored up. We’re animals at our core, but because we have all these complex definitions for emotions and intelligence, we think we can out smart ourselves sometimes, and each other. But we can’t out run the truth, we can’t hide from ourselves forever. And by talking and expressing and confronting these uncomfortable situations, the resolve can come much sooner and yield much better results than we get from avoidance. It’s vital for personal growth.