the apple doesn't fall far from the river bank of denial
I remember when I first realized I was in a toxic relationship. One of the hardest things to do was leaving my first toxic relationship. I begin to ask myself why it was so hard as it was full of physical and emotional abuse that eventually led to physical abuse. When I started reflecting on that traumatic event, I realized a few key factors to that difficulty. Part of it was I was manipulated, which engulfed me with such self-doubt and hopelessness.
reflecting on that traumatic event, I realized a few key factors to that difficulty. Part of it was I was manipulated, which engulfed me with such self-doubt and hopelessness. This resulted from repressing many of the past emotional pains I began to be in denial of. One of the main reasons I didn't leave was because I was driven by the need to feel accepted, as this was ultimately how I was easily manipulated. As I attempted to grow the courage to try to leave, the thing that stopped me was the opinions and the perceptions people began to have. Which the truth was, it became an act of displacement from the social environments I was in. In this psychological and self-help journey, I realize the cause of others coping with the realities in their world. What I am trying to say is this. People were using defense mechanisms to not only make themselves seem superior to me, adding to my feeling of inferiority. In short, this may an action of displacement from the conformity of victim culture.
Judgement from bias views and values
There is a saying in the study of Psychology, "We are all dealing with something." Or looking at it from a different perspective, "We are all coping with emotional pain and trauma." The bias we develop comes from a combination of social and cultural conformity that instills what is acceptable and unacceptable based on these standards. Often, we agree with things that aren't right, which is something a lot of doing or have done in the past. Negative bias is something our brains do to avoid negative situations and experiences. Many of these biases establish the fears that we have. That makes us assume how a scenario will play out and begin to make educated guesses based on the morals, values, and experiences that we developed ourselves. And the ones that we have already confirmed too. Many of us make assumptions without experiencing the event ourselves, taking people's words for face values, and adapting this as our truth.
If someone has a bad experience and they share that experience. We avoid the unfamiliar experience, not factoring in the person's ability to overcome obstacles. We don't take into account a missed opportunity that an individual may have missed. We use these biased opinions and adapt them as truth, which prevents us from experiencing them ourselves. To confirm if the negative outcome is authentic. When someone experiences an adverse event that is relatable, we begin the process through defense mechanisms to avoid seeing our negative reality for what it truly is. Those in denial of being in a toxic situation will start to rationalize why their condition is not like the victim's situation. This begins to make the person in "negative bias" feel vulnerable or inferior. Check out Hara Estroff Marano's article about negative bias on Psychology Today. Our Brain's Negative Bias | Psychology Today
It's Not You, I'm Just in Denial
In engaging our defense mechanism, we self-preserve as an act of character defense. The common occurrence that happens in human psychology is that we go through a series of changes through our personalities through a theory called the "Big Five Personality Traits." Big 5 Personality Traits | Psychology Today When someone represses emotional pains and experiences, they begin to form personalities based on fear. The leading cause of personality change is through "neuroticism," a specific event when people are unaware of their ideal self. I will be the first to admit that this has happened to me various times throughout my life as I could not be self-aware and did not possess "emotional awareness." It was shocking at first because of the constant journaling that I did to reflect. It wasn't till I began to go through a process called "self-transcendence" that I began to gain the act of "emotional intelligence."
We go through an array of behaviors when we use our defense mechanisms. That, in the end, is used to protect ourselves from feeling emotional discomfort. In the end, we use the negative behaviors of self-defense that end up become negative behavior. The healthiest of the defense mechanisms is sublimation, which is the act of taking conflicting emotions and applying them through a productive outlet. Here are the various types of defense mechanism behaviors provided by Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne from Psychology Today. The Essential Guide to Defense Mechanisms | Psychology Today
The Different Types of Negative Defense Mechanisms
Denial: a genetic defense mechanism which is the refusal to accept the truth or reality of a fact or experience
Repression: the act of forgetting a bad or traumatic experience
Displacement: the act of transferring negative emotions ( anger) that you have on another person that caused the negative emotion and target a helpless and harmless victim ( abuse)
Projection: the act of transferring your negative feelings and thoughts that you develop, assuming that others believe those thoughts
Reaction Formation: the act of feeling one way but acting another way (someone who feels sad or angry but acts happy or says nothing wrong)
Intellectualization: the front of reasoning with a problem to avoid a negative feeling or emotional discomfort
Rationalization: the act of reason or rationalizing an action of harmful, hurtful, or toxic behavior
i'm not josie grosie anymore, but you are going to be!
The action of the defense mechanism is commonly the cause of criticism. If you look at this logic outside of the box, you begin to see that the primary reason for hostile acts in defense mechanisms is the stigmas gained through repressed internalized issues. This becomes a snowball effect that people use to suppress the feeling of inferiority, the cause of not resolving this internalized self-conflicts gained through events that developed the act of being self-conscious. It can be from many different outlets, such as family abuse or bullying inside and outside the home. As the way to resolve this is by psychological and emotional self-help tactics. That many seek professional help by a life coach, like myself and/or traditional psychological therapy. The unfortunate dilemma is that through the actin genetic defense of denial. In not admitting the truth in reality, these repressed issues disrupt their ability to grow as a person dependent on their conformed belief through cultural and social normalities. Choose to allow these events to dictate the rest of their life.
Before my journey from writing the self-help book "Journey of an Unraveled Road" and becoming a life coach, I engaged in many of these acts of self-defense. The self-conscious feeling I had was due to my inability to admit that these events affected my quality of life. If someone had a negative perception of me, I immediately resulted in reaction formation, projecting my negative feelings to the people who had a genuine best interest for my well-being. When I was in a toxic relationship, these feelings began to elevate further. When I wanted to get out of the situation, I attempted to get advice. Many of those involved in toxic relationships would engage in defense mechanisms to make them gain a sense of superiority over my life situation. How do I know that they were in unhealthy relationships? Because in rationalization, they would flaunt their relationships in front of me as it is perceived to be an action used to make me feel bad about my current situation.
In working towards healing, I felt it was rationalization. With a passive-aggressive intention of saying, "This is what a good relationship looks like." or "This is why you are a negative and sad person." Without "emotional intelligence," then, I failed to see the bigger picture. I could not see that the reality was that they were normalizing toxic behaviors that would happen right in front of my eyes. This would explain why these people would go into isolation when I would question the contradiction to the advice given, based on the observations that the same things that were happening in my relationship were happening in theirs. Of course, in some of these relationships, acquaintances were becoming friendships. That followed with the displacement of toxic behaviors they were struggling to admit to.
crossing the river of denial and inferiority
I can't speak for anyone else, but for me, it was "denial" and "repression" that held me back from identifying my ideal self. Like the things I didn't want to come to terms with, giving me the perfect illusion of who I was as a person and what my individuality consisted of. I suppressed my proper morals and values all for the sake of "fitting in," not seeing that others were also doing the same. In group settings, people would wait to propose a decision and agree with that collective decision. That followed with individuals talking amongst themselves about why they didn't agree with the decision or why they felt wrong. The same concept occurs with how we develop our personalities, I believe, as we adjust our form of expression to feel accepted. I was falling prey to the influence drawn by social and cultural influences to become a more accepted version of ourselves.
The one thing that inferiority leads to is the self-sabotaging act of rendering ourselves helpless. That leads to a co-dependency of feeling superior. Regardless of its active (anti-social behaviors) or passive (victimized behaviors), it's all a behavior to feel a sense of superiority stimulated by the repression that develops self-doubt. Many use the perceived "life hacks" of coping with negative emotions to avoid the issues that keep us from self-actualization—the ability to prove to ourselves that we are capable of limitless skills we see as unrealistic accomplishments. The truth is anything is possible with willpower. As well as realizing that sometimes it takes practice to perfect something that we fell short on.
the power in becoming the tide
One of the things that we have to realize to reach this state of mind is that we will make mistakes. The judgments that were posed on me resulted from someone else's act of reaction formation—having those people become defensive when I point out the errors they made in their lives. Regardless of my intention of reminding them that we were not made to be perfect, it would become an event in the past. Would result in displacement that was degrading and abusive. Things are a lot different since then, as in the survival instinct of "fight or flight," people tend to "flight" using gaslighting to make me look like the person in the wrong. A cause from a "biased" and "stereotypical" conclusion where people assume I am the same person I was back then—a person who had a dependency and desire of being liked and accepted. We start gaining this power by coming to terms with these repressed issues and practicing the art of self-care.
I remember those days when I catered to social and cultural norms. It felt like my ideal self was chained, trapped like a caged bird. I agreed to things that continued to make me feel lost and oppressed. The leading cause of this effect was normalizing and accepting the behaviors that increased the self-doubt I already had—but doing the same harm to others to avoid the feeling of vulnerability. I was never happy as the truth was I was settling for choosing contradictions over my ideal self, allowing opinions to dictate who I am supposed to be. That consistent of perfection from un-perfect and immoral people. The beautiful outcome to that lesson became the ability to "Seek the perfect existence of my ideal-self in the imperfect like I wanted to achieve." That only through mistakes, trial and error, and the willingness to open up to experiences. That would lead to a life where fear would no longer intimidate my existence and for the first time in life. Be proud to be the person that I am and growing further into the presence that I am supposed to be.
Frieda López is the writer for Journey of an Unraveled Road who was born and raised in San Antonio, TX. Through her professional career in Customer Relations and Retail Management, she has utilized her experience and interactions with the behavioral patterns, which was used to start her personal journey with Journey of A Unraveled Road as her debut novel. She has completed philosophy, psychology, and theology courses at San Antonio College as well as creative writing courses. Frieda López has been a lifelong writer since 2nd grade. A survivor of childhood trauma, childhood abuse, and domestic violence, she wrote this piece, which started this book as her personal journey; works from home in San Antonio, TX.
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