Archive for the ‘conflict’ category

Ego-Defense Mechanisms

March 6, 2016

This post is a summary of an article by Richard Von Gremmler: Ego-Defense Mechanisms

You can also listen to my daughter and I discuss the first few paragraphs of the article in this YouTube video: Ego-Defense Mechanisms Article Pt. 1


Egodefense mechanisms are emotional barriers that prevent us from consciously understanding most of our emotions, locking them in our unconscious. These ego-defenses “protect” us from experiencing stress beyond what we can handle.

However, each stressor that we are protected from will only get worse if not understood and resolved. This is further compounded by the guilt that results from each of these denials. Furthermore, our overall degree of stress will increase as we accumulate more and more unresolved stressors.

These accumulated stressors create tension, leading to emotional instability which can become overwhelming. And the greater the buildup of unresolved stressors, the stronger the ego-defenses must become, and the greater our emotional blindness. Navigating this situation becomes a puzzle of a “brilliantly clear blue sky”, where all the stressors are not only scrambled and distorted, but are like pieces of precisely the same color. Thus, we are unable to determine which specific stressors are responsible for which anxieties.

Furthermore, the greater our ego-defenses are, the greater our emotional needs will become. Because ego-defenses obscure our genuine emotions, it leaves us unable to experience, express and fulfill them. This creates a void, a neediness, from deep within that our disconnected conscious mind attempts to fulfill through arbitrary coping mechanisms (an example of an A influence). It makes us vulnerable to being controlled and manipulated by others in desperation to address our needs, and leads us to think and behave in ways which are in total contrast to our genuine emotions.

So, the moment we encounter a stressor (whether for the first time, or as a re-encounter) is the most critical juncture to be decisive. This is because we will either resolve it, or inhibit it through ego-defenses. And for each stressor we resolve, we will experience positive reinforcement. This provides motivational security as we move forward into accepting and working with greater stressors.

It’s a very normal fact of life in society that we experience a constant bombardment of emotional challenges and stress. But to be stabilized, these stressors must be thoroughly explored and resolved. This will then strengthen our conscious emotional environment, reduce the need for ego-defenses, and increase self-confidence for accepting and exploring future stressors.

Theory #7

December 3, 2012

We should enjoy everything we do in life.  But due to our emotional constrictions, we avoid experiencing the depth of our conflicts.  Thus we hurt ourselves and others by choosing the superficial instead.  With enough constriction (emotional constipation) even simple things  become a burden.  Until nothing is enjoyable, except as a distraction.  Distractions then lead us to feel guilty, which leads to more distraction.  But in reality, with emotional freedom, everything is enjoyable.  Even work and chores, because we can feel the depth of positivism from things that may be superficially unexciting.

Cheese Cracker Conflict

May 13, 2011

I was driving home from dropping the kids off at school.  I was hungry.  There were 2 packs of cheese crackers, and 1 pack of peanut butter crackers.  As I’m reaching for the cheese crackers I realize that maybe I’d better eat the peanut butter instead.  That way, when it comes time for their after school snack, my kids won’t fight over who gets the cheese or peanut butter.

So, I was about to suppress what I wanted in order to avoid the possibility of conflict between my kids.  And I was about to miss a potential opportunity to teach them how to work with conflict in a positive way.

After all, to avoid conflict is to be unprepared for the inevitable times when it cannot be avoided.  So instead, I’m going to see if I can draw it out a little bit.  If one says “I want cheese!,” I’ll say “Good choice, cheese is the best!  Sorry [other child], you’ll have to make do with peanut butter.”

This might sound cruel, and in the wrong hands, it would be.  But the more of an emotional event the situation becomes (without becoming negative), the more prepared they’ll be for conflicts with similarly high emotional stakes.

Then, when I can tell they’re about to cross that threshold into negativity (like yelling at each other), I’ll start redirecting things.  “Wait a minute guys.  Lets think about this.  What do you think is the fair thing to do here?”

But emotions can be unpredictable, even chaotic.  Especially with kids.  That’s what makes it exciting.  So if one of them becomes negative, like yelling or hitting before I redirect, then it becomes a discipline situation.

“Well that was easy.  I was going to have you guys share half of each, but now the cheese crackers will go to he who didn’t get angry/whiny/mean.  Remember, there’s no reason to get upset.”

And the key with discipline is to be assertive and firm, but not aggressive, angry, sarcastic or frustrated.  Even restrained undertones of negativity get transmitted and contaminate the whole interaction.  That’s why being prepared helps.

If anything, instead of dealing with conflict, I’ll just as likely have to deal with my son’s tendency toward avoidance and self-suppression.  If I detect him making a martyr of himself in order to avoid his sister’s aggression, then the question is how to draw him out.  Be creative.

“Hold on!  I just found another pack of the cheese crackers.  Would you like them instead?”  If he does, then I’ll say “so you do want cheese crackers.  I thought so.  I was lying about the extra pack.  But before you sacrifice yourself, lets see if we can figure out something you’ll both be happy with.”

All this because I was hungry and wanted to eat some cheese crackers.  Taking on conflict opens a whole can of worms, but it’s so much more exciting and positive than growth stunting self-suppression and avoidance.