It’s been said so many times and in so many different ways and tones that you may be repeating it in your sleep too: effective communication is key in every relationship. If you know it so well in theory, though, why can’t it be put into practice? Most of the times, it’s because certain defense mechanisms take over.
Which Are The Most Common Defense Mechanisms Blocking Communication?
There are probably countless defense mechanisms getting in the way of our relationships every day, but the most common of them are described below. Take note.
PROJECTION. The act of projecting on others what we actually have in us has been recognized by psychology for many years. In everyday speech you will have heard the saying ‘It takes one to know one’, which describes how we recognize on others what we have in us. Likewise, we may try to project on our partner a feeling of our own, because we are too unwilling or afraid to actually own it. Next time you throw accusations, it might be a good idea to look closely within yourself. Could they be coming from something deeper?
DIMINISHING. When a situation isn’t to our liking, for instance when our partner has taken offense over something we did, we sometimes show a lack of empathy that derives from our not wanting to address the issue seriously. Instead of giving it the gravity it deserves, then, we prefer to dismiss it as unimportant and petty. A good idea, however, is to put ourselves in our partner’s place from time to time and to consider how we would feel if the situation were reversed.
MANIPULATION. The mother of all defense mechanisms, manipulation is the act of using your emotions to determine and control the attitudes of others. In a romantic relationship, for example, one of the partners may appear to be too easily hurt, making the other constantly walk on eggshells. It may seem like a good way to get your way, but in reality, it can only go on for so long, which is something to remember if this is your game plan. The best way in a relationship is to be open and honest about one’s intentions at all times.
INTIMIDATION. Making our partner feel less clever/ successful/ significant than us during an argument just to feel like we are the ones in control may not be something we do consciously, but it is no less damaging. Respecting and valuing our partner’s views and feelings are a prerequisite for a stable relationship at all times, not when it suits your needs.
DEFLECTION. Sure, taking the blame for our mistakes and recognizing our own insufficiencies is not a pleasant thing to do, so we may instead resort to the act of deflection – that is, trying to shift the blame from ourselves to someone or something else. It isn’t our fault that we were harsh on our partner yesterday; it was all down to work pressure. It isn’t that we didn’t do the dishes as we had promised; it was that she hadn’t explained how the dishwasher works well enough. Are we even honest with ourselves?
If you recognize these defense mechanisms in yourself, it’s a good step forward. It will take a lot of hard work to stop resorting to them to feel better or win arguments, but the sooner you start, the better results you will see in your relationship.