We Are So Adaptable!

There are some words that simply seem to evoke a negative/judgmental reaction from people.  There is a sense that words like angry, jealous and defensive mean bad things.

Have you ever smugly been accused of being defensive?

What if we replaced the term defense mechanism with adaptation?  If you believe that we are all just trying to feel okay on the planet, then this new term may well make sense to you.

I think we can all agree that it is pretty tricky to walk through all the hurts and losses in life and not feel some pain, conflict and uncertainty.  One way to protect oneself from those uncomfortable feelings is to unconsciously develop behaviors which serve to stave off these feelings.

In a nutshell, that is the unconscious purpose of a defense mechanism or adaptation.

We don’t set out purposely to choose an annoying behavior;  we are simply trying to feel better and avoid our real feelings.  In fact in a mature moment, we may adapt by using humor, altruism, anticipation or sublimation.  In a not so mature moment, we may adapt in less productive ways.

For example, are you a person who finds it difficult to listen to your partner on a ‘hot’ topic without doing one of the following:

Blaming, name calling, raging, abruptly leaving the room/house, rigidly repeating your position on the issue, finding something else that  ‘has’ to get done,  using drugs/alcohol, acting out sexually, trying to control the situation or person.

Your partner feels frustrated and upset by these reactions, often a fight follows and nothing is resolved. Most of the time there is no mean-spirited motivation, only an intolerance for feeling hurt, sad, anxious, lost, angry ,scared, or insecure.