145 SelfWork: Dealing With the Elephant In The Room: Defending Yourself with Denial, Distraction and Other Defenses
Everyone knows when there’s an elephant in the room. It’s an event, fact or feeling– past or present — that can’t, for some mysterious reason (or not so mysterious) be acknowledged. It seems impossible or too risky or too painful to talk about. So you walk around it. Avoid it. Throw a sheet over it — anything to defend yourself against its reality.

We all have what are called “defense mechanisms” to deal with what stresses us too much. It can be as simple as distraction (which can get a bad rap by some in psychology) which can entertain you, get your mind off something difficult. Or you can flat out deny it, meaning that you don’t allow yourself to see or admit the reality of that stressful elephant. Then there are more complex defenses, such as projection or compartmentalization. So today, we’re talking about how you defend yourself from stress — not a bad thing at all in moderation. It’s only problematic when it’s your only option to handle stress.

Our listener email is from a teenager whose mom has two completely different ways of being and is trying to understand how to approach her. This is a common question I get about loved ones so I thought I’d answer it on air.

Important Links:

The article by Dr. John Grohol on Psych Central describing common defense mechanisms

Link to NPR’s Invisibilia 

You can hear more about coping with stress and many other topics by listening to my podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to this website and receive my weekly blog posts and podcasts!If you’d like to join my FaceBook closed group, then click here and answer the membership questions! Welcome!

My new book entitled Perfectly Hidden Depression has arrived and you can order here! Its message is specifically for those with a struggle with strong perfectionism which acts to mask underlying emotional pain. But the many self-help techniques described can be used by everyone who chooses to begin to address emotions long hidden away that are clouding and sabotaging your current life.

And there’s a new way to send me a message! You can record by clicking below and ask your question or make a comment. You’ll have 90 seconds to do so and that time goes quickly. By recording, you’re giving SelfWork (and me) permission to use your voice on the podcast. I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

Elephant image courtesy of Pexels.


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