People misunderstand emotional defenses. They are given no literacy on emotional defenses through schooling and so when they go about their adult lives, encountering emotional defenses in others, they tend to develop a highly reactive attitude toward them. They treat an emotional defense encountered in another as that person’s “golden truth”. They suspend all disbelief and simply follow that defense into whatever “game” or pattern that the defense has laid out. This results in a loss of connection and depth in the conversation. Conversations turn into predictable fencing, for anyone literate in emotional defenses.
Most of the “deep” conversations that young adults are having out there on their podcasts, panel shows, and solo-casts are completely, mind-numbingly predictable. This is because the people are not conscious of their defenses and thus fall prey to the determinism of defenses.
The first step toward working with your emotional defenses is to understand how to process your emotional responses to stimuli. You must slow down your processing and focus simply on the emotion and the thought that preceded the emotion. Socially, the thought will often be a conclusion about another person’s behavior, “So-and-so is doing THIS to me, I’m ANGRY, therefore I will retort in such and such manner I am equipped to retort in.” This is the essence of how all conflict starts. People attack others in anticipation of being hurt, themselves. They do this because the person has struck a nerve in what they’ve said, usually because of something truthful they said.
In telling the truth to yourself, you can practice being aware of your emotional defenses (such as fogging out or distracting yourself). This is the same thing people do to each other interpersonally, only they do it verbally and in order to provoke a reaction. We do this to ourselves in our internal dialogue. The first step in working with emotional defenses is to not simply react to thoughts.