When one experiences pain and it is not possible for them to face the pain that they’re experiencing, they’re going to end up using a number of defence mechanisms. This could be due to how traumatising the experience is or because it would be too much for them to face how they feel.
A defence mechanism is then a vital part of one’s ability to survive and/or to stop them from being overwhelmed. However, if one was to keep the defence mechanisms in place after the experience that caused them to use them, there is the chance that they will do more harm than good.
What was at first a necessary part of one’s survival, soon becomes a threat to their survival and if it isn’t a threat, it will still have a negative effect on their life. Ideally, one would use a defence mechanism and then let it go, sp to speak, once they have outgrown its use.
While this would be the healthiest option, this doesn’t always take place and this is because it is not always possible. One could start using a defence mechanism when there are no other options available; this could relate to their childhood.
Or even if one is not this young and is therefore an adult, it doesn’t mean that one believes that there are other options available. At a deeper level, one might believe that it is not safe for them to seek assistance or that they wouldn’t be able to handle facing what is within them.
It then won’t matter if there is help available or not, as one is going to stop themselves form embracing what is available. The pain is then going to remain within them and one is going to keep their defence mechanism/s in place.
So as their defences are going to remain and the pain within them won’t be dealt with, it is not going to be possible for their life to change. The impact that a defence mechanism is having on ones life could be minimal but at the same time, it could be having a massive impact on their life.
There is then going to be two levels to the pain that one is experiencing. At a deeper level will be the pain that they’re covering up and are doing their best to avoid. This inner pain is then going to create what are often classed as ‘symptoms’. This could be: anxiety, depression, low self esteem and/or dysfunctional relationships.
And while these ‘symptoms’ can be painful, they’re often seen as being less painful than the pain that is casing them. So all the time that one has this outlook, they’re not going to face what is causing them to experience certain ‘symptoms’.
Perhaps they need to get to certain paint where they’re no longer willing to live life in the same way or they might just put up with these ’symptoms’ and do nothing about them. Everyone is different, and so it is hard to say whether one will face their pain or simply put up with the ‘symptoms’ that the pain is creating.
When one experiences something that is painful, and this could be a one off or something that happened on a number of occasions, they can end up re-creating the same scenario over and over again. And even though the original scenario didn’t lead to the outcome they wanted, they’re still unable to stop themselves from re-creating it.
Now, if one has had an experience that was painful or even traumatic, it can be hard to understand why someone would want to experience it again. This is not something that one does consciously; it is something that will take place unconsciously.
One may find that they are continually attracted to people who are emotionally unavailable or abusive. And although they are not able to commit or to treat one with respect, one does everything they can do make them commit or to make the other person love them.
Women, who were abused growing up, are often found working in the adult industry, professions where their bodies are objectified and in relationships with men who are abusive.
Why Does This Happen?
So through re-recreating the same scenario or one that is similar, one will believe that they will finally get what they didn’t get from the original experience/s that created the pain that has remained within them. This gives one a sense of hope and the belief that they will finally get what they want.
For if they were to face the reality of the situation, they would realise that it is not possible for them to get what they didn’t get. To accept this, would mean that they would have to face the pain that is within them.
But it is clear to see that although one is repeating the same experience in order to avoid facing how they feel, they are recreating the same experience so they’re going to end up feeling the same.
So until one steps back and realises that they’re experiencing what they want to avoid, they’re going to suffer unnecessarily. When one is no longer willing to create the same experiences and is ready to face their pain, their life will begin to change.
This original pain often goes back to ones childhood and relates to what their caregivers were unable to give them. One can then end up being disconnected from what took place and yet, their behaviour is still being defined by it.
The pain that one is holding onto will need to be faced and released; this is not to say that this will happen overnight or that one will be able to face it by themselves. External support might be needed and this can be supplied by a therapist, healer or some kind of support group.
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Oliver J R Cooper
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.