3 Steps to Unmask Your Self-Defense Mechanisms for Better Conflict Resolution and More Joy in Your Relationships
How Some Self-Defense Mechanisms Sabotage Our Joy and What to Do About It.
By: Jada Berteaux
Unmask your self-defense mechanism characters to free the person deep within.
Portions of this blog are an excerpt from my new book, Insecure Super Hero Sidekick (Unmask Your Sabotaging Self-Defense Mechanisms and Claim Your Greatness!) available soon on Amazon. You can see my profile on Amazon here.
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"We now understand the importance of masks to protect our health and safety. The use of some masks is critical. Yet, there are other types of masks that we wear, often unknowingly, that do not serve a critical or useful purpose. These masks only serve to sabotage our joy, hinder our ability to satisfactorily resolve conflict in our relationships, inhibit real self-discovery and zap our willingness to be vulnerable in our relationships." Jada Berteaux
These masks only serve to sabotage our joy, hinder our ability to satisfactorily resolve conflict in our relationships, and zap our willingness to be vulnerable.
As with so many other transformational life cycles, acquiring a self-discovery enthusiast mindset is experienced in stages. When I begin work with a conflict resolution or vulnerability capacity coaching client, I listen very actively in order to understand what stage of self-discovery the client might be in.
I never assume that a client in conflict is not open to self-discovery. In fact, most are open once we work through the self-defense mechanisms, and other roadblocks, that have been triggered by the conflict and by the anticipation of the conflict resolution or coaching intervention itself.
"The point of developing a self-defense mechanism is to make us invulnerable to the very things which we believe will cause us great fear or hurt. Over time, these self-defense mechanisms can become so prevalent that we believe these thoughts, behaviors and beliefs are our true selves.
In my story, self-defense mechanisms that once protected me from feelings of unattractiveness and rejection grew to such strength that they sabotaged my joy and my capacity to unfold my true self to the world.
Giving these thoughts and beliefs names, like characters in a play, allows us to step away and observe the devastation they cause in our lives. And then do something about it." - Jada Berteaux
I was introduced to the concept of naming self- defense mechanisms during a management coaching training program. After completing the exercise, in which I did the basic work of naming my self- defense mechanisms, I just couldn’t leave it there. The basic exercise resonated so deeply within me that I needed to explore it further—that darn self-discovery enthusiast thing. I knew that others could benefit from unmasking their own sabotaging self-defense characters and I was driven to work with this concept on a deeper level.
Once I had names for sabotaging thoughts, behaviors and false beliefs, I could be an observer of these characters much like an audience member watching characters on a stage. In my observations, I came to understand what types of scenarios and interactions triggered which of my sabotaging self-defense mechanisms.
I began to refer to them as characters because, well, I feel that any thought, belief or behavior that is not my true essence is a character. My true essence is the real deal. I began to call out my self-defense mechanisms by name when old sabotaging thoughts and behaviors showed up daily in sense-of-self defense from something or someone challenging or uncomfortable to me. Jada, this is not you operating from your greatest gifts. These are the thoughts and beliefs of one of your sabotaging self-defense mechanisms.
I unmask my self-defense mechanisms daily—hourly on especially harrowing days! I know which set of thoughts and behaviors are attached to which self-defense mechanisms. I am a self-respectful student of my thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. I approach challenging situations, embrace opportunities and dismiss sabotaging thoughts with my true essence as my guide.
Become A Self-Observer
If you have taken opportunities to look at your own thoughts, beliefs and behaviors over your life, you probably have an inkling about your own characters. Do these questions or statements sound familiar to you in your self-talk?
When you are experiencing these uncomfortable and recurring reactions or thoughts in a situation, observe and acknowledge that you could have very powerful and sabotaging self-defense mechanism at work in your life and your relationships.
In my new book, Insecure Superhero Sidekick, I take the reader through a significant, transformative exercise to guide you through naming the self-defense mechanisms that are sabotaging your greatness. Plus, I share my 3 sabotaging self-defense character names and how I allowed my true essence to come forth.
Call Out and Unmask
Once we name our sabotaging self-defense characters, we can observe when these characters are in control. As we continually call out and unmask the thoughts and behaviors associated with these characters for what they are--saboteurs-- we can slowly begin to see our true essence emerge.
Allow Your Authentic Energy to Emerge and Honor It With a Name
What joy to give your true essence a name! The name of my true essence is Vulnerable Free Spirit. This is what my authentic energy feels like to me and to the world. I was once drowning in sabotaging energy and now my life is designed through the energy of my authentic self-- not sabotaging self-defense mechanisms.Because I did and continue to unmask my sabotaging self-defense mechanisms, my relationships have improved immensely, I actually feel joyful, people are drawn to my natural energy and I am manifesting in my life that which is satisfying, healing and uplifting to my soul.
Vulnerability brings clarity. If we chose vulnerability, first with ourselves, and then with others, clear boundaries are necessary. Boundaries, however, are not the same as sabotaging self-defense mechanisms. Clear boundaries around what works or does not work for you in your life are healthy and transparent. Clear boundaries uplift and support your true essence and allow for a deeper experience with vulnerability. Sabotaging self-defense mechanisms are walls that block your authentic self from being seen in the world. By nature of being self-defensive, they are often impenetrable by others who are, or desire to be, in relationship with you. Therefore, it is so important to do your unmasking work.
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