Sometimes we do not see or do not want to see the problems we are creating in our own lives. If we admit that we are making bad choices, then we would need to do something about them.
Following are some of the ways we avoid taking responsibility:
1. Denial – This is when we do not even know that we’re lying to ourselves. We refuse to accept reality and often act as though a painful experience did not or does not exist. This defense mechanism often begins in childhood and can continue into old age.
2. Projecting – When you accuse others of having unacceptable impulses which you are experiencing you project the ideas onto what could be innocent people. Those who project often say what”should” be happening in the lives of others while decreasing their own involvement in precisely the identical thinking or behaviours. Stress is reduced as you focus on what other individuals are doing instead of on your own issues. Rationalizing – This is when you have been irresponsible in some area but, rather than accepting and correcting this, you use excuses to justify so you are not viewed negatively.
4. Intellectualizing – As in rationalizing, you think of an excuse for something that you did but instead of being emotional about it, you just distance yourself from the problem and continue. Regressing – In times of stress, you may revert to a younger country and behave in a childish way.
6. Repressing – When events or situations are hard to deal with, you might block all memory of them. If you do not remember them, you do not need to deal with them!
7. Exercising – This is a way of using extreme behaviors to reduce your stress. Temper tantrums in children can continue into adulthood as forms of abuse.
It’s not easy to be mature adults, particularly if we’ve been using defense mechanisms for most of our lives.
Accepting responsibility for our thoughts and actions can be facilitated by a number of things:
1. Awareness – This can happen when things are pointed out to us by someone who we respect. A friend, spouse or colleague who cares might say the very thing that helps us to realize what we’ve been doing. Do not worry about them. Thank them for helping!
2. Knowledge – Right now, all we know is we all know. Taking a course, joining a group or attending a class may provide us with information which will help us to understand things differently.
3. Skills – Learning strategies to manage stress and problems differently will result in different outcomes.
4. Practice – Trying new techniques will result in expertise and positive change over time.
5. Forgiveness – One of the most difficult things to do is to forgive ourselves when we realize how we have failed in a place. Consider how you would treat a friend who’d done the same thing and apply that grace to yourself.
Change, for some people, is a frightening thing. But for those who are struggling, it can be a welcomed relief. If you really want to live a healthy life and build mutually-beneficial relationships, the first step would be to consider if and how protection mechanisms are interfering with the process.