Why identify our defences?

Why do we need to identify our emotional wounds and our defences?

If you've looked at my website, you will understand a little bit about my approach as a counsellor. One of the counselling tools I use, is to help people identify their defensive behaviour (defensive behaviour = the way we mask our emotional wounds). Why do I help people do this? What's the point? The point is, so we recognise when our wounding has been triggered. And the point of this (hopefully), is so we can begin the journey of healing and change.

We recognise our wounding when we're over-reacting. Our reactive behaviour is not who we are. It's the behaviour of the unhealed self.

If we don't learn the difference between our defensive self and our real self, we think the angry foul-mouthed person, or the angry, gnawing in-the-throat, shut-down person is our real self. Yuck! But when we learn that it's our protective behaviour at work - blaming, attacking, panicking, getting desperate, whatever we do if we're the expressive type; or pouting, looking surly or resentful, if we're the non-expressive type, then that's our alert button. We recognise our wounding has been stirred up and we can take stock. What's going on? Why have I turned into a monster, or crawled into my shell, or put on my armour?

Are you there? Are you reflecting? Do you know how to go about this? Okay, first, back up a bit. How did the situation start? Recollect the events, or what was said. What was your initial emotion? Were you hurt? Did you feel fearful, got at, put down? What happened? Now, what does this situation remind you of? Who, in your past, treated you this way? What recurring situation is it reminiscent of? How far back does this go? Remember, you won't have over-reacted unless there's a deep wound; a wound from childhood. And if it's a wound, then it happened over and over again. In childhood, to start with, we only have a limbic brain (emotional brain). So that's when someone's repeated anger, or disappointment, or disgust, (or whatever it was), wounds us deeply. I'm not talking about one-off anger. I'm talking about on-going anger (or disappointment, etc). And it will have been someone close to us, responsible for our care; like a parent. As a child, this registers in our limbic brain, and we feel it so strongly, it gets stored; filed in our emotional system. It's emotional trauma. That's why as an adult, we can behave so childishly and extremely when the wounds triggered. Our behaviour may be out-of-proportion with the actual situation we're in; an over-reaction, not just a reaction. You could say it's "hit a nerve" but it's most likely a wound.

Do you want to start a journey of emotional healing and the process of behavioural change? I'm a counsellor working in the Christchurch area, so why not get in touch.

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