Defense Mechanisms are behaviors created to avoid pain, fear of connection and emotional intimacy with others.
These behaviors are self-preserving in nature. We feel on some level we are being threatened and seek to keep ourselves “safe”.
Listed below are examples of defense mechanisms, look to see if you can identify any in your relationships.
Annie responds to perceived threats by giving attitude, any attitude that will back people off. Annie is usually overbearing to the point of being obnoxious. People are afraid to say anything to her for fear of receiving a tongue-lashing. Annie’s motto is “My way or the highway!”
Bert stays safe from people by bossing everyone. Bert never has to worry about feeling threatened because he simply doesn’t listen to anyone. Bert feels his contribution to the world is to tell people how to think, behave, and perform. Bert’s motto is “Follow me or get out of the way.”
Cathy doesn’t feel threatened because, in order to hear other people, she first must close her mouth – an event that rarely occurs. If you do get lucky and get a word in, she will not hear you because instead of listening, she is planning her reply. Cathy’s motto is “Did you say something?”
Dan is very skeptical of everything anyone says to him. In fact, he is so doubting that he can negate anything said to him (it’s a gift). You may be able to recognize Dan by the “I’m not buying a word of this” stamp he carries in his hand while anxiously waiting for the words to leave your mouth so that he can stamp them in mid-air – before they reach his ears. Dan’s motto is “Yeah, right”.
Chances are you will be able to sense Edna when she comes within a mile radius by the way your brain starts to hurt. Edna will boggle your mind as she inflicts her endless tales of exasperation upon your person. Edna keeps herself safe by giving people a headache, therefore, keeping people at least a mile away from her. People will make an effort to hide from Edna in order to escape the impending brain freeze that occurs when talking to her. Edna’s motto is “Give me your mind, I’ll wear it out!”
Frank is a very sensitive guy. Any amount of conflict sends him over the deep end into an emotional abyss of self-pity, inadequacy, self-condemnation, and a general overall feeling of everything negative. People will tend to feel sorry for Frank, but I wouldn’t – he’s pretty smart. He’s learned people won’t say anything to him for fear he will have a total and complete emotional breakdown at the drop of a hat. Frank’s motto is “Please don’t emotionally devastate me, I’m hanging onto life by a thread as it is!”
Greta is easy to spot because her ego will usually arrive before she enters the room. Greta remains safe from feeling threatened because nothing you say could possibly apply to her. She has been there – done that. And usually done it in a much bigger and better way. Greta’s motto is “I’m sure that worked for you, but I’m not that simple a person, thank you anyway.”
Henry is recognizable by the broad grin that never disappears from his face. Henry has threat-proofed himself by adopting the attitude “Nothing is going to bother me”. Henry is so out of touch with his feelings – well at least all feelings except pleasant ones, that he never feels threatened. Henry’s motto is “Don’t worry – be happy”.
You will probably never meet Ida because she is invisible. Ida makes herself very scarce when people are around. And when she is with people, she has a knack for fading into the background. Ida has no opinions, comments, or statements to make, therefore; people don’t seem to notice her. Oddly enough she seems to have designed her appearance to blend with any wallpaper so that she is never asked anyway. Ida’s motto is “Silence is golden”.
You will be able to identify Jerry from the boisterous belly laugh that quickly fills a room as he enters. Jerry is also identifiable by an overwhelming urge that develops within even the sanest man to choke him in order to escape his endless barrage of corny jokes. Jerry never feels threatened because he lives in a world of laughter (albeit – his own). Jerry’s motto is “The world needs a good laugh”.
Katrina is soooo nice. When you look at her you wonder how anyone could appear so kind-hearted, nice, patriotic, wholesome, All-American, strong, frail, and sweet – all in the same glance. No one would ever say anything to her because who would take the risk to offend someone so perfect! The Katrina’s of the world are very safe because who wants to stand next to her so that your “warts” might be exposed. No one seeks that level of contrast! Katrina’s motto is “World peace is achievable if we all do our little part”.
Larry can be spotted as he whirls in carrying gifts and presents for everyone. Larry grins broadly as he majestically bestows lavish treasures upon his friends, family, and acquaintances. Larry is also known for his unique ability to remember every gift he has ever given to anyone. And if you doubt his ability he will be more than quite thrilled to remind you. Although Larry does love giving gifts, he is equally excited about the fact no one ever really disagrees with him. It would appear he learned to not feel threatened by buying people’s love. Larry’s motto is “Everything’s for sale!”.
People are often amazed at the extended length of time Martha can maintain an unusual shade of purple on her face. It has also been witnessed that as soon as she leaves a room a curious amount of people magically appear. It’s amazing how many people can drop their pen and have to stay under their desk looking for it (all at the same time – no less), that is until she leaves. Martha is a woman on a mission (a war mission). She has the ability to isolate everyone with a single boom of her voice. Martha doesn’t worry too much about feeling threatened, after all, she’s pretty threatening herself. Martha’s motto is “If it can’t be shouted, why bother to say it!”.
Ned is a lifer – meaning a lifetime of commitment. Ever see “What about Bob?” Sure there are people who will talk to Ned, but they are planning on leaving the country anyway. Ned will enmesh with you on the single hint that you might be looking at him. Ever hear the phrase “like white on rice”, well that will describe Ned’s role in your life if you strike up a conversation. Ned’s needs will never be met, so people will try to avoid him (that is if they can outrun him). Ned’s motto is “Everyone needs an extra appendage”.
Olga has the unique capacity to always share her feelings with you – well at least her opinion, and of course she does have an endless supply of that. Olga is quite frequently seen on talk shows as a professional opinionated audience member. She discovered this niche after friends, family, and people, in general, started avoiding her. She feels compelled to share her wisdom with the world. Don’t ever make the mistake of disagreeing with her, you may never make it back. Olga’s motto is “Of course, I’m right – you ever doubted it?”.
Paul never has a problem in life, and if he does it is a perfect problem with a perfect solution. Paul doesn’t allow anything that is not perfect to come into his thoughts. Of course, he lives in denial, but hey who is perfect (hee hee). People who try to relate to Paul find that they are unable to communicate anything less than perfect to him, therefore find many things go unresolved. Paul’s motto is “If it ain’t perfect, it didn’t happen”.
When communicating with Queenie, you must qualify everything you say. This task is a bit of a guessing game since only Queenie knows the qualifying criteria. It is rumored that someone once tried to obtain the list but that really doesn’t matter anyway since Queenie changes the list from moment to moment. People who talk to Queenie find they have a hard time ever saying anything right in her eyes. Equally, they have a hard time not rolling their eyes at mission impossible (getting a thought across). Queenie’s motto is “Can you prove that?”.
(Haven’t we heard about him earlier?) Ricky has an unnatural ability to turn everything around on others. Ricky often finds himself back in World War I under attack by the enemy. Oddly enough though, he has never been in a war – he just feels attacked frequently. Ricky’s response to being under attack is to plan a counter-attack. Ricky’s razor-sharp weapon is his tongue. He is very skilled a running down anyone who he feels is a threat to his person. Ricky’s motto is “Attack first, ask questions later”.
Sally is a communications private eye. She is skilled at smoking out your real motives for talking with her. After all, you must want something. You can identify Sally by the clanging noise as the wheels in her head are furiously spinning to discern what you are really saying. Sally’s motto is “Now, tell me what you really mean”.
TATTLE TALE TOM
Tom would have been an asset to the country before fiber optics were invented. Tom has the gift of sharing – sharing indiscriminately that is. You will be able to notice the friends (or now ex-friends) of Tom by the horrified looks on their faces as he casually repeats their innermost private secrets for public consumption. Tom’s motto is “Oh, you mean that was private”.
Don’t make a mistake on Urma’s watch, she will never forget or forgive you. Although Urma is human, she gives no one else the chance to be human. Urma has few friends because she can’t find anyone to live up to her expectations. Urma’s motto is “One mistake and you’re out of here!”.
Victor is in love – with himself. It would appear that the mousse and hairspray he uses on his hair act as some sort of hearing barrier. Victor seldom is capable of hearing, and when he does it is usually to catch a compliment about himself. Victor doesn’t feel threatened because no one else lives in his world of beauty. Victor’s motto is “I make the world a beautiful place”.
Wanda has copyrighted the term “riding the fence”. She will never commit to anything. Wanda feels people are happy when you agree with them, so she just agrees with everyone. That works for her until she is with more than one person at a time. When Wanda is in a group she can never make up her mind. People quite often find this quality very frustrating. Wanda’s motto is “oooh, well, ooooh, I don’t know”.
Xavier is usually easy to spot. He often likes to wear his T-shirt that says “Studmuffin”. Xavier has a contest every morning to see how little clothes he can wear and still not break any indecency laws. Xavier is so overtly sexual with his dress, language, and just overall personhood that people have a hard time being around him. And when people are around him they have an overwhelming urge to wash out his mouth (and mind) with soap and throw some clothes on him. Xavier’s motto is “No, I didn’t forget to get dressed”.
Everyone bores Yelda. This is evident by the way she starts yawning, picking her nails, and looking up at the ceiling when more than two words are said to her. People often feel like the most boring speaker when they are talking to her – wow imagine that. Yelda’s motto is “Of course you’re not boring me…(yawn)”.
Zack is sooo crazy, people are worried about what he is going to do next. Zack was a prankster in his childhood but doesn’t seem to have grown out of it. Neither does he realize that enough is enough. Zack’s motto is “Hey when did everyone grow up?”.