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Why When We Feel Upset, We’re Actually Arming up Instead of Breaking Down

Why When We Feel Upset, We’re Actually Arming up Instead of Breaking Down

People handle difficult situations in many different ways. Have you had news that upset you, but instead you carried on with your day as if it didn’t happen? Or perhaps you have heard stories of people who went through traumatic episodes yet have no memory of them?

Defense mechanisms are the different ways that people deal with challenging experiences.

It is important to pay close attention to them and understand how they can be better controlled. If they go unnoticed, these reactions could end up causing more harm in the long term. Not addressing your emotions in a healthy way could lead to issues such as anxiety, stress or depression. It could also have an adverse effect on your relationships with those around you, especially if you react in a way that may end up being hurtful to the other person.

There are 10 common defense mechanisms:[1]

1. Repression

Your mind purposely buries a painful memory in your subconscious that prevents you from being fully aware. It blocks out specific emotions or memories as a way to protect you.

An example of this could be not remembering a particularly difficult childhood occurrence.

2. Denial

This is the inability to address something that is difficult. It is regarded as one of the most primitive defence mechanisms and it is a common coping strategy for many people.

An example of this could be not believing that you have a substance abuse problem, despite getting into debt to fund the habit.

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3. Regression

You revert to an almost childish way of dealing with problems. The reaction is stemmed in a seemingly immature behaviour since you feel unable to deal with it rationally.

An example of this could be sulking or having a tantrum when you get into an argument.

4. Projection

You attribute your own insecurities or thoughts on someone else. Generally it is adopted when certain actions or thoughts are unacceptable and despite potentially knowing this, you are not able to express it as such.

An example of this could be accusing your partner of flirting when you are having an affair.

5. Displacement

This is where you channel your emotions onto something or someone else. You may be in a situation where you are unable to express it directly, such as with your boss.

An example of this could be throwing something in a fit of rage.

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6. Rationalization

Justifying behavior with positive attributes, whether it is right or not. It is seeing something from a different point of view that benefits your side of the story.

An example of this could be lying to your partner about something you know would really upset them, because you love them and treat them well.

7. Reaction formation

This is acting the opposite of how you really feel. This transforms your current emotions or thoughts into being in a position where you do not have to address them.

An example of this could be saying that you are not angry when you are.

8. Sublimation

You focus your emotions onto something that has no attachment to the problem. By doing so, you channel the energy elsewhere instead of the root, which could prove to cause further problems.

An example of this could be feeling upset because of something at work, but addressing that anger while driving in the form of road rage.

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9. Undoing

This is the act of reversing how you feel by an action. As the name suggests, it is trying to “undo” how you feel or think about something specific.

An example of this could be going out of your way to help someone whom you dislike.

10. Humour

You deal with your own pain by making a joke of it. You try to make light of a situation by attempting to behave as though there is a funny side to it.

An example of this could be finding out you have a terminal illness but joking that it means you will get time off work.

While we can’t take away our defense mechanisms, we can have them in better control.

Look for red flags

Behaviors can become habit-forming. Pay close attention to how you act when you are faced with emotional dilemmas.

Is it likely that you may throw something on the floor or are you quick to lash out in anger? Could a coping strategy be that you walk away or that you simply breathe deeply and count to ten?

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Have you formed a habit that is proving to be negative to your well-being such as drinking too much or overeating? Could changing your environment or social circles promote a more positive lifestyle?

Don’t transfer the blame

It’s easy to not want to take responsibility for feelings or actions. But passing that on to someone else could also jeopardize your relationship with that person as well as make them feel bad.

Perhaps instead you could be honest and tell them what’s really happening. There is no shame in going through a bad patch. Sometimes getting another point of view can make the world of difference and also make you feel less alone.

Don’t deny your negative emotions.[2]

Embracing your emotions can be quite liberating. No one is perfect, and no one should aspire to be. Bad things happen and trust that it is ok to feel bad when they do.

Don’t deny your body the ability to cry if it needs. Tears are your body’s way of giving you that hug that you need.

Adopt a healthier lifestyle

Even though it may not change your circumstances, nourishing your body, mind, and spirit with more positive things, will have an impact on your feelings and defense mechanisms.

Try changing your diet and finding outlets such as exercise, meditation or incorporating a hobby that makes you feel more uplifted.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

More by this author

J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Published on November 28, 2018

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

How to Do Meditation at Home to Calm Your Anxious Mind

The woman in yoga pants sitting in a lotus position atop a rocky cliff, overlooking a valley draped in fog — this is the glamorized version of meditation you’ll come across as you search. Yet if you’re seeking meditation to calm your mind, a fantastic setting with no distractions is rarely available.

So how to do meditation?

The truth about meditation is it’s an everyday practice for anybody. You could be a mountain climber or you could be an accountant — either way, your home is just as good a place for meditation as any.

Are you seeking to corral your racing thoughts and relieve a sense of unease, awkwardness, or uncertainty? Look to home meditation to cultivate a laid-back, creative, confident, and organized frame of mind. According to extensive scientific research, meditation relieves stress and anxiety, decreases blood pressure, improves sleep, and improves your ability to pay attention. [1]

From start to finish, this article will give you quick, easy steps to follow so that you can meditate at home regularly. You’ll begin by assessing, identifying and altering things that need to change in your home environment. You’ll end by understanding the basics of meditation so that you can let yourself do what you already know how to do deep down in the hidden reality of your mind.

You’re ready to let your mind be, and just be, in your own home — let’s begin.

1. Find the Right Space in Your Home

Where is your right space for meditation at home? Is it in your basement, your bedroom, your living room, or your study?

The right space will be one with the least distractions built in to its purpose. In that case, it may be your bedroom. If you’ve set up your bedroom to be a place for sleep and only sleep, it will lend itself well to meditation.

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The right space will also be a reasonably spacious one. Although comfort is not your goal, you need room to sit. Choose a space that is private, spacious, and quiet. If you don’t have a space in your home like this, create one. Free it from clutter and get it ready for you to meditate there any time.

Ultimately, your right space is one you feel comfortable meditating in, the space you can enter with no other expectations.

2. Improve the Feng Shui in Your Home and Meditation Space

Feng shui means “wind and water.” It’s the ancient Chinese art of placement.[2]

Feng shui improves harmony with nature. Adherents to the principles of feng shui believe all things have energy (chi). The focus of feng shui is to send negative chi (sha) out of the space and attract positive chi (yun).

Here’s the truth about feng shui: it’s not complicated or hard. The following will influence feng shui positively in your home and meditation space:

  • Living things, such as plants
  • Beautiful objects, such as sculptures or even a well-polished piece of driftwood
  • Mirrors in symmetrical placement with the lines in a room
  • Mellifluous sounds, such as trickling water or wind chimes
  • Furniture away from walls
  • A centerpiece, such as a small table with books or an ornate lamp on it
  • Incense or something else that smells good
  • A lack of clutter and an attention to organization that emphasizes the usefulness, purpose, and essential being of each item in your house

Given that feng shui is connected to Taoism and Buddhism, it will complement the meditative atmosphere you want to cultivate in your home.

3. Eliminate Pervasive Distractions That Can Harm Your Wellbeing

In part, meditation is about accepting the existence of distractions. When you meditate, you don’t judge and assign a positive or a negative value to distractions — the ticking of a clock, an itch, the barking of a dog — you let them occur and let them dissipate like waves.

However, in the same way that feng shui removes objects that attract negative chi, there are certain types of distractions that don’t belong in your meditative space. You must remove them.

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In a survey of 1,700 people who visited social media sites at least 30 times per week, 30 percent reported high levels of sleep disturbance and 25 percent presented symptoms of depression. [3]

Those individuals who experience sleep disturbances or mental health issues due to social media are not setting boundaries between themselves and their connected devices.

Part of learning how to meditate at home is learning how and when to set boundaries between yourself and your connected devices and social media accounts. If you need your phone for a timed meditation practice, but you normally receive social media notifications on your phone, set it on Do Not Disturb or Airplane mode during your meditation time.

4. Flow into Meditation Through Time

Next, set aside a time for meditation each day. It’s right to be structured and disciplined about your meditation time.

Buddhist monks whose lives revolve around meditation are very structured and organized with their tasks each day. Structure provides the balance your being needs. Once you are meditating, your mind has no need for time. Outside of your given meditation time, you are completing tasks essential to the wellbeing of yourself and your home.

Consider meditating as the sun rises. This is a quiet and contemplative time of the day when it is natural to set your day’s balance through meditation.

5. Recognize the Rightness of Doing Nothing

At home, you’re probably used to always doing something. When you do meditation at home, you are being, which is doing something and nothing simultaneously.

Maryville University points out that successful people unplug by doing nothing. [4] Not only this, but they set the right expectations for the time during which they will do nothing.

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We oftentimes look forward to the future by expecting something to happen and by expecting something of ourselves. To meditate from home, look to that time and that space by expecting nothing. You will not do any chores. You will not catch up on work. You will do nothing but meditate for a certain amount of time each day.

This might sound crazy, but in taking on meditation from home, you’re not expecting yourself to improve and become a better person. As Ram Dass put it, you are expecting yourself to be here now.

6. Choose from the Incredible Variety of Meditative Practices

As I outlined in my post on types of meditation, there are many different and not-so-different types of meditation from which to choose.

Many beginners find it right to choose guided meditation, for which there are apps, videos, and audio tapes available.

If you are not necessarily a beginner but are merely moving your meditative practice into the home, you can facilitate a practice such as Nada Yoga — sound meditation — by placing a fountain in your space or listening to ambient alpha wave music.

If you’re used to meditating outside of your home — perhaps you are drawn to the outdoors because of the sounds of nature — a practice like Nada Yoga can help you transition into your home space.

7. Understand You Can Meditate Any Time at Home

What if I told you to throw out all of the tips that came before this? Sounds crazy but that is how radical mindfulness meditation really is. We don’t think of it as radical because it is now ingrained in our popular discourse.

Mindfulness meditation does start as a sitting meditation practice. It goes like this:

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  1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on breathing. Inhale through your nose slowly and exhale slowly.
  3. As distracting thoughts arise, don’t judge them and don’t hang onto them. Let each thought go as you focus on breathing.
  4. Treat all physical sensations and feelings in the same way you do thoughts: register them, then let them go, returning to breathing.
  5. Extend this practice to everyday activity, remaining “in the moment” of the body’s activity with each new breath.

As you practice mindfulness around your home, note the physical characteristics of the things in themselves. Note physical sensations: sounds, smells, textures, appearances, tastes. Stop now and then and do a body scan from head to toe, noting what each section is doing and how it’s feeling.

Note thoughts that come and the emotions attached to them: let them go. Concentrate on the breath and the physical activities — including the details of the objects with which you’re interacting.

You’ll notice that your home will lend itself to a meditative state when things are in order. This is where true feng shui originates. You will naturally sense how the arrangement of things affects the energy in a room.

Clutter will disappear because mindfulness tells you to dispose of unnecessary things. Plants will bloom. Birds will make their nests in your backyard. Your home will smell pleasing and people will naturally be attracted to it and your presence.

You’ve Reached the Beginning and the End

Once you are able to do mindfulness meditation even as you are attending to the normal and abnormal requirements of your home, the mundane and the unusual, you are at both the beginning and the end.

You are at the beginning because meditation never ends. Continue setting aside time each day to do sitting meditation in the space you’ve set aside. Continue practicing mindfulness as you attend to the energy of your house, your own energy, and the energy of those around you.

You are at the end because you grasped what it means to do meditation at home: it means letting go of cares and concerns and being in your home as you attend to the right tasks. The right tasks are those necessary for being in your home.

As you sit in your home, rise, open the door and you leave, you are calm in your mind because you are home.

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Healthline: 12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation
[2]Marquette University: Feng Shui: The Wind and Water
[3]Rutgers University: Social Media and Well-Being
[4]Maryville University: How Successful People Unplug

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