Defense mechanisms that hurt us

“Regardless of whether we think it is inferiority, insecurity, or internal conflict that causes it, the experience of anxiety has been examined by a variety of theorists…Although these defense mechanisms/processes are unavoidable and useful in reducing our anxiety levels, we pay a price for it. They require [vital] energy and leave us with less energy that can be used for other purposes…

Another way to reduce energy is to steal energy from others. We often steal energy from people less powerful than us because they are the ones that will allow us to steal energy from. It may be our family members, friends, coworkers, neighbors, or even complete strangers. Just as a drowning person will grab at anything to keep him or herself from drowning, we take energy from anyone we can take it from when we are highly anxious…

When we steal energy from others who have approximately equal amounts of social power [key concept!], the others typically steal it back [resulting in ensuing power struggle]… Insecurities and the anxiety that it causes are the root of all interpersonal conflict. The more insecure we are, the less stable our relationships tend to be. Insecurity is caused by internal conflict and therefore the more insecure we are the more we see things as “me versus someone else”

… Another thing we can do in response to anxiety is to avoid others. When we are anxious and the people around us are more socially powerful than us, we cannot steal energy from them. Chances are, they will steal energy from us if we interact with them. When we are insecure and anxious in these situations, we become avoidant. Although we cannot replenish our energy this way, at least we can prevent others from taking our energy. This is how some of us become avoidant of other people.

When we avoid in response to our insecurities, we end up feeling alienated and lonely and being alienated and lonely makes us even more insecure and anxious. Being more insecure and anxious often makes us even more avoidant of others and again, we end up being trapped in our own game… Research in attachment theory supports the notion that insecurities make us steal energy or become avoidant.

…Individuals with anxious ambivalent/anxious resistant forms of attachment, however, tend to be very possessive and suspicious of others in adulthood. Because of these characteristics, these individuals tend to steal energy from others close to them in an attempt to make them stay close and loyal to them (even though this strategy backfires).

[Avoidance] as we can imagine, makes it difficult for these individuals to develop and maintain close meaningful relationships with others… Anxiety caused by insecurities is also an excellent motivator for [rescuing]. …allows us to gain “respect” from others. It also allows us to assume positions of social power in many cases. the more social power we have, the less other people can steal energy from us and the more we can steal energy from them. Therefore, the more insecure we are, the more we crave for social power. Indeed many of us who are in positions of social power [psychologists, professors, celebrities, gurus, spiritual teachers, life-coaches, activists, helper professions] are merely insecure individuals underneath our face of composure and elegance.

Insecurity and anxiety also motivates us to form and join groups. Being a part of a group relieves us of anxiety because it makes us feel like we are not the only ones who feel insecure about a particular thing. We often form groups with individuals who have similar insecurities. Having similar insecurities cause us to have similar desires from the perspective of the internal conflict model…Thus, the more insecure and anxious we are, the more motivated we are to form and maintain our own groups.

All of the reactions to anxiety discussed above involve hoarding energy. We are either trying to protect what we have or trying to obtain more. [But there is another way] Instead of taking control [engaging the victim drama triangle or playing out scripts with ourselves and others] (e.g., taking energy from others), we can deal with our anxiety by letting go of our desires. As discussed earlier, letting go of our desire [to rescue, to steal energy, etc.] enables us to accept what has, is, or could happen without resistance and resolve our internal conflict. When we mature in life, we overcome our insecurities and we overcome our insecurities by learning to let go…

The more we are able to do this, the more we develop socially, morally, and emotionally. The more we develop in this way, the more we see things as “us” rather than me versus you or “us versus them”. The more we are able to do this, the deeper the unity [intimacy] with a wider variety of people and things around us and the more mature we become as human beings.”

Toru Sato, “The Ever-Transcending Spirit: The Psychology of Human Relationships, Consciousness, and Development”

Source: aetherforce

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