My wife and I went to visit some friends and shortly after arriving our hostess began to tell us all about the self-help books she had been reading and how she now understood her problems and how to resolve them. She was very pleased with herself but also quite defensive of her new discoveries, possibly because she knew of degrees in psychology and the need to defend herself. As we talked I could clearly see that she was afraid of delving into her own issues with someone else. All too often people attempt at being their own therapist. It’s a wonderful thing, self-improvement but often there is one important piece that is missing to have profound results. We cannot see the forest for the trees no matter how brilliant we are! Being our own therapist is about as good as being your own coach in figure skating while trying to qualify for the Olympics.
Often when I see couples in my office one of the individuals will tell me that they don’t need any help and that the problem is their partner. They will often say, “I’ve already worked on my own stuff.” This is an indication of their own defensiveness and believe they don’t need any more help. The cause? Fear! I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t need help!
I’m Not Crazy!
Denial is a strong defence mechanism that we all use at times. “I’m not crazy!” Is an assertion that I have heard new clients make when they first begin therapy. The fact that they are so concerned about not being ‘crazy’ is a strong indicator that they are afraid that it might be true. It may be that deep down inside of themselves they know something is not right with them, and this becomes painful because it often means to that they are flawed.
I will ask these individuals, “When you go to the local grocery store do people stop and stare because they see you are crazy?” They tell me, “No”. Then I ask them, “When you are at the store do others let you know they have problems that they need to work on”? And again they answer “No.” I then proceed to ask them, “Who and what is normal? Is this world normal? Only God is normal and the rest of us hopefully are working on getting there.” Remember, normal is a setting on your washing machine and that is about it. What we perceive to be normal is based on our past consistent experiences.
Most people understand the slang, crazy to mean one who has gone into a psychotic state where they are either hearing things, seeing things, or have gone into some delusional or catatonic state. People who have gone into a psychotic state are those who have lost the differentiation of the sense of self and the real world.
Not being perfect is human and for some of us that’s hard to swallow. Humility involves honesty, being honest with ourselves can be painful but it is well worth the reward. If we can accept the fact that we are imperfect and are in need of both qualified human help and divine aid then we are on the road to wholeness.
Fear of ourselves
Often people’s fears show up in different ways, some exaggerate who they are, others quietly put their heads in a hole, others will defend themselves, others rationalize, there are many ways in which people express the fear they have of themselves.
Anna Freud’s Defence Mechanisms help define how we hide ourselves for fear of finding out how much help we really need.
All defence mechanisms share two common themes:
A. They are unconscious reactions
B. They distort, transform, and/or falsify reality
This distortion of reality, which takes place in us, is due to our core beliefs that create perceptions which lessen our anxiety, and in turn reduces our tension level.
Anna Freud’s Defence Mechanisms:
• Denial: claiming and/or believing that which is true to be false.
• Displacement: redirecting emotions to a substitute target.
• Intellectualization: taking an objective viewpoint.
• Projection: attributing uncomfortable feelings to others.
• Rationalization: creating false but credible justifications.
• Reaction Formation: overacting in the opposite way to the fear.
• Regression: going back to acting as a child.
• Repression: pushing uncomfortable thoughts into the unconscious mind; forgetting.
• Sublimation: redirecting ‘wrong’ urges into socially acceptable actions.
We all have a fear of ourselves and that is why we exhibit defence mechanisms. To accept that we are flawed as humans is a struggle for us.
This is much like the biblical concept of sin; we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We struggle with our selves because of the deep inborn shame that we possess. But, if we are able to face our true selves then we can have hope. True hope is not based on denial but rather on the understanding that there is hope for every one of us no matter the past or the present. A very important key to personal progress is understanding the process:
1. Realizing you need help from someone other than yourself
2. Realizing you are flawed
3. Believing that there is hope for you
4. God loves and believes in you even if you don’t
5. Transformation from who you were to who you were meant to be
6. Keep on in your journey of transformation
What is psychotherapy? In short, psychotherapy is the use of various modalities of mental and emotional processes that brings healing to the mind. This word comes from the Greek psycho for mind and therapy for healing.
There are hundreds of modalities of psychotherapy. Some of the ones that I utilize are EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique), Ego State Therapy, Sensorimotor Psychotherapy, Psychodynamic, and dream interpretation and analysis.
Psychotherapy is the best kind of therapy in my opinion, not just because I do it, but because the mind controls so many aspects of our lives. The unconscious and conscious mind affects our body, our choices, our relationships, our money, and our overall health. Through the use of psychotherapy I have seen people’s bodies begin to function normally again, relationships restored, monetary arenas in life transformed, just to mention a few results. The benefit of psychological treatment often outweighs purely physical forms of treatment. The reason? Because the mind is the boss, the mainframe computer, the processor, our main command center. Our beliefs determine our health and much of our world we live in.
The benefits of psychotherapy outweighs the cost. There was a time in my life where I thought psychology was a royal waste of time, but through divine guidance I have been proven wrong. The personal benefits that I have gained from psychotherapy are difficult to list because it has been so vast for me. My desire is to encourage you to make the investment in yourself, it will ultimately pay you dividends in all areas of your life. If you say, I can’t afford it! you may want to reframe that statement to, How can I afford this? The wise seek wisdom and pursue it.