Keeping things in perspective and expressing your feelings are defense mechanisms

Top 10 Defense Mechanisms and Why We Use Them

Defense mechanisms refer to psychological strategies or behaviors that people may use to cope with difficult feelings, thoughts, or events.

Defense mechanisms are behaviors that people use to separate themselves from unpleasant events, actions, or thoughts.

The idea of defense mechanisms comes from psychoanalytic theory, a psychological perspective of personality that sees personality as the interaction between three components: id, ego, and super-ego. These psychological strategies may help people put distance between themselves and threats or unwanted feelings, such as guilt or shame.

First proposed by Sigmund Freud, this theory has evolved over time and contends that behaviors, like defense mechanisms, are not under a person’s conscious control. In fact, most people do them without realizing it.

According to these theories, defense mechanisms are a natural part of psychological development. Identifying which type you, your loved ones, and even your co-workers use may help you in future conversations and encounters.

Defense mechanisms are ways you react to situations that bring up negative emotions. According to psychoanalytic theory, when you experience a stressor, the subconscious will first monitor the situation to see if it might harm you. If the subconscious believes the situation might lead to emotional harm, it may react with a defense mechanism to protect you.

Usually, you are unaware of the defense mechanism, though the behavior may appear odd to others around you.

Many researchers place defense mechanisms on a continuum, with more mature defenses improving cognitive processes and less mature ones causing harm.

In the long term, mature defense mechanisms may not be particularly detrimental to your emotional or mental health. Using more mature mechanisms may help you face the anxieties and situations that might normally cause stress and emotional duress.

Other defense mechanisms, however, are not as mature and helpful. Prolonged use of these defenses can lead to lingering problems. In fact, they may prevent you from ever facing emotional issues or anxieties because they block you from seeing the root cause.

Some signs that defense mechanisms are getting in the way of your everyday life and mental health may include:

  • feeling sad or depressed
  • having difficulty getting out of bed
  • avoiding usual daily activities, things, or people that once made you happy
  • having difficulty forming or maintaining healthy relationships
  • communication problems that hinder your professional or personal life

Dozens of different defense mechanisms have been identified. Some are used more commonly than others. Here are a few common defense mechanisms:

1. Denial

Denial is one of the most common defense mechanisms. It occurs when you refuse to accept reality or facts. People in denial may block external events or circumstances from the mind so that they don’t have to deal with the emotional impact. In other words, they avoid painful feelings or events.

This defense mechanism is one of the most widely known, too. The phrase, “They’re in denial,” is commonly understood to mean a person is avoiding reality despite what may be obvious to people around them.

2. Repression

Unsavory thoughts, painful memories, or irrational beliefs can upset you. Instead of facing those thoughts, people may unconsciously choose to hide them in hopes of forgetting them entirely.

That does not mean, however, that the memories disappear entirely. They may influence behaviors, and they may impact future relationships. You just may not realize the impact this defense mechanism is having.

3. Projection

Some thoughts or feelings you have about another person may make you uncomfortable. When people project those feelings, they misattribute them to the other person.

For example, you may dislike your new co-worker, but instead of accepting that, you choose to tell yourself that they dislike you. You start to interpret their words and actions toward you in the worst way possible, even though they don’t actually dislike you.

4. Displacement

You direct strong emotions and frustrations toward a person or object that doesn’t feel threatening. This allows you to satisfy an impulse to react, but you don’t risk significant consequences.

A good example of this defense mechanism is getting angry at your child or spouse because you had a bad day at work. Neither of these people is the target of your strong emotions, but your subconscious may believe reacting to them is likely less problematic than reacting to your boss.

5. Regression

Some people who feel threatened or anxious may unconsciously “escape” to an earlier stage of development.

This type of defense mechanism may be most obvious in young children. If they experience trauma or loss, they may suddenly act as if they’re younger again. They may even begin wetting the bed or sucking their thumb as a form of regression.

Adults can regress, too. Adults who are struggling to cope with events or behaviors may return to sleeping with a cherished stuffed animal, overeat foods they find comforting, or begin chain-smoking or chewing on pencils or pens. They may also avoid everyday activities because they feel overwhelmed.

6. Rationalization

Some people may attempt to explain undesirable behaviors with their own set of “facts.” This allows you to feel comfortable with the choice you made, even if you know on another level it’s not right.

For example, someone who didn’t get a promotion at work might say they didn’t want the promotion anyways.

7. Sublimation

This type of defense mechanism is considered a mature, positive strategy. That’s because people who rely on it choose to redirect strong emotions or feelings into an object or activity that is appropriate and safe.

For example, instead of lashing out at your coworkers during a stressful shift, you choose to channel your frustration into a kickboxing class. You could also funnel or redirect the feelings into music, art, or sports.

8. Reaction formation

People who use this defense mechanism recognize how they feel, but they choose to behave in the opposite manner of their instincts.

A person who reacts this way, for example, may feel they should not express negative emotions, such as anger or frustration. They choose to instead react in an overly positive way.

9. Compartmentalization

Separating your life into independent sectors may feel like a way to protect many elements of it.

For example, when you choose to not discuss personal life issues at work, you block off, or compartmentalize, that element of your life. This allows you to carry on without facing the anxieties or challenges while you’re in that setting or mindset.

10. Intellectualization

When you’re hit with a trying situation, you may choose to remove all emotion from your responses and instead focus on quantitative facts.

You may see this strategy in use when a person spends their days creating spreadsheets of job opportunities and leads after they are let go from a job.

Defense mechanisms can sometimes be viewed as a type of self-deception. You might be using them to hide emotional responses that you don’t want to deal with from yourself. However, it’s done mostly on an unconscious level. You’re not always aware of the way your mind or ego will respond.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you can’t modify or change the behaviors. Indeed, you can transform unhealthy defense mechanisms into ones that are more sustainable. These techniques may help:

  • Find accountability. Friends and family members can help you recognize defense mechanisms you may be using. By drawing attention to the self-deception, they can help you identify the moment you unconsciously use self-deception. That allows you to then decide in the conscious state what you really want to do.
  • Learn coping strategies. Therapy with a mental health expert, such as a psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychoanalyst, may help you recognize the defense mechanisms you use most often. They can then help you learn active responses to make choices on a more mindful level.

Defense mechanisms are natural. They are often used without any long-term complications or issues.

However, some people do develop emotional difficulties if they continue to use these mechanisms without coping with the underlying threat or anxiety. Treatment focuses on helping you address issues from a mindful place, not an unconscious one.

Why and How to Find Help

You may find examples of defense mechanisms in yourself or others close to you, especially if they’re dealing with stress or trauma in their lives.

We may react to stress and trauma in ways that often don’t make sense. When pushed with too much stress, some people find themselves seeking out substances or losing their tempers at the people they love.

These sorts of gut reactions to stress can be thought of as examples of defense mechanisms. Despite how unpleasant these mechanisms may be, we may find that these reactions just happen without thought. It’s as if these patterns have been ingrained in us since we were young.

These defense mechanisms protect us from harm — emotional, mental, and even physical harm. They help us move past uncomfortable feelings and get through difficult situations.

However, you may find that these defense mechanisms do their job in the moment, yet prove to be unhealthy or disruptive in the long run.

A trained psychotherapist can offer you insights and coping skills that allow you to recognize examples of your defense mechanisms, hone them into mature coping skills, and feel more resilient in times of distress throughout your life.

Since the beginning of psychotherapy, psychologists have been investigating why and how people use defense mechanisms in their everyday lives.

While Sigmund Freud introduced the concept of defense mechanisms, his daughter Anna Freud expanded on his list in her psychiatric practice. Sigmund and Anna Freud explained that defense mechanisms come from a conflict with your id and superego.

The id is your unconscious, which can include everything from your dreams to your hidden desires.

On the other hand, the superego refers to your moral compass that you’ve been given by authority. This could include the ethics of your society, gender and sexual expectations, or the expectations that your parents have for you.

However, your ego develops to mediate between your id and superego. But when your ego doesn’t mediate between the two, it may compel you to use defense mechanisms to restore balance.

When it comes to actually figuring out where your defense mechanisms come from, the conflict with your unconscious and your superego often comes from your family. Whether intentional or not, these defense mechanisms are psychological forms of protection that keep us from dying.

Basically, psychotherapy sees your defense mechanisms as you trying to express your desire or frustration (id) to the situation that’s causing you to feel trapped or stressed (superego).

In most cases, these psychological responses are not under a person’s conscious control. That means you don’t decide what you do when you do it.

While “primitive” and “mature” may seem like problematic labels for defense mechanisms, they are not meant to judge those who fall into these patterns. These terms refer to older concepts in psychoanalysis that may still prove useful.

There are different classes of defense mechanisms. The more primitive a defense mechanism, the earlier it may appear in a person’s development. Even young children often exhibit these primitive defense mechanisms.

The primitive defense mechanisms are unconscious and unintentional. They may tend to be an ideal way of handling conflicts early in life. However, these primitive defense mechanisms may be less effective for you in the long term.

On the other hand, mature defense mechanisms are conscious decisions rooted in reality, and they are often constructive. More mature defense mechanisms acknowledge stressors or traumas in a more productive way while still remaining a defense mechanism — a reaction to stressors or trauma.

Psychoanalysts identified dozens of different defense mechanisms. Some of these prove more common than others.

Now that you have a better framework of the differences between the types of defense mechanisms, consider these common types of primitive defense mechanisms.


Certain memories may be traumatizing for us, and they can cause so much anxiety and grief that the mind pushes them down into the unconscious. This protects the mind so that you can function.

This is why some people may have whole months or even years of their lives blocked out of their memory.

You can consider this inability to bring up your charged emotions as a textbook form of repression.


The denial mechanism can look like a refusal to accept the weight of reality.

Someone experiencing denial may be blind to the obvious event unfolding in their life.

For instance, a person in denial may put off medical appointments to avoid facing their cancer diagnosis, or they may pretend to not know their partner is cheating instead of confronting them.

Denial may be a common defense mechanism for people who live with:

  • trauma
  • grief
  • substance use disorders
  • personality disorders

In short, denial may be your brain’s way of protecting you from feeling completely overwhelmed, as reality may be too much of a mental and physical shock.

Like other defense mechanisms, approach denial with sensitivity and care. It may be what your body needs to keep going in the short term, but you can face reality once you leave a state of denial. It can be hard — it’s important to be patient with yourself and others.


Displacement protects you from aggressive impulses, as you know there would be some kind of judgment or consequence for it. So, you take it out on a safer object.

This mechanism shows up when someone can’t direct their aggression in the way they want, so they take it out on a lesser threat. For instance, a kid may have a tough home life and go to school and bully a younger student.

Like other primitive defense mechanisms, we may see it more clearly in children than in adults. But of course, adults fall into displacement too.


This coping mechanism causes you to transfer your problems to someone else, treating them like a mirror of you or your mistakes. When you project, you accuse someone else of your own faults.

For instance, a husband could accuse his wife of cheating instead of facing the guilt from his own infidelity.

According to Sigmund Freud, there are common feelings that are involved in projection, including:

  • jealousy
  • need for control
  • anger
  • sexual desire

When a person projects these feelings onto you, you may feel shocked and surprised because you’ve done nothing to earn these accusations.


Splitting looks like black-and-white thinking, most likely having an all good or all bad view of something.

If someone is splitting on you, you may become either all good or all bad in the other person’s eyes, rather than a nuanced person with flaws.

An example of splitting would be offending someone but convincing yourself that the person was bad anyway, so you really didn’t do anything wrong.

Moreover, it’s good to consider that splitting is often present in people with personality disorders like borderline personality disorder (BPD). People without BPD can also split as a defense mechanism, so one should be careful not to treat splitting as something exclusive to mental health conditions.

These common mature defense mechanisms may offer you more sustainable and healthy ways to respond to your issues long term.


We can’t always act on our feelings, so we put them away. Suppression is a conscious form of repression — one that still allows you to process how you feel.

For instance, if you’re suppressing the urge to respond to anger, you may decide to discuss your issues with a disruptive co-worker in private — rather than confronting them during a public meeting.

Someone who represses their emotions does not confront or acknowledge their emotions consciously, while someone who suppresses their emotions acknowledges what they’re feeling and decides to act on them at a better time.


Distraction is a way of turning your focus away from something that’s distressing and onto something less stressful until you are ready to tackle what’s plaguing you.

An example of a distraction would be having a bad day and putting on a comedy movie to take your mind off of what’s bothering you.


This mechanism involves channeling negative emotions into something constructive.

For instance, instead of screaming at your partner, you might go for a run to calm down. Sublimation could also look like working on self-improvement after a breakup, instead of giving in to your loneliness or negative self-thoughts.

A good start for those working on turning defense mechanisms into coping mechanisms could be working to turn the primitive responses into mature ones.

Mindfulness is an important tool for recognizing your patterns so you can replace them. It’s also important because you have to be open and aware of how you cope with stress.

Working with a mental health professional can help you process the emotions that you are trying so hard to suppress in the first place. This person can also help you process what’s at the root of conflict in your psyche.

It can be difficult work to modify or change how you respond to stress. Still, you can turn unhealthy defense mechanisms into ones that are more sustainable. These techniques could help:

  • Taking accountability. Friends and family members can help you recognize how you engage in defense mechanisms. These people in your life can help you figure out when you make an unconscious or unhealthy choice. This allows you to make conscious decisions under stress and figure out what you really want to do.
  • Working on coping strategies. Therapy with a mental health expert, such as a psychotherapist, psychologist, or psychoanalyst, may help you recognize the defense mechanisms you use most often. They can then help you learn how to manage your impulses and make active and mindful decisions.

With effort, you can overcome your reliance on primitive defense mechanisms. It’s important to be mindful and recognize your behavior patterns, especially during moments of stress. It’s OK to ask for help.

If you feel that the stresses in your life come from past traumas or toxic childhood experiences and require more than just good coping mechanisms, consider looking into different forms of psychotherapy.

While some forms of therapy may be better suited for working through past trauma, finding professional help in any capacity may offer you the tools to work through past trauma and coping skills to thrive, no matter what comes next in your life.

Learning more about your defense mechanisms can help you take control of your life and your emotional responses — and not have your automatic responses control you.

10 defense mechanisms: how the psyche fights negativity

When people experience negative emotions, their defense mechanisms may turn on. Understanding what they are and how they help the psyche to cope with stress

What are defense mechanisms

Defense mechanisms are unconscious psychological reactions. They prevent feelings of anxiety, threats to self-esteem and help not to think about unpleasant things. They were first described by Sigmund Freud in his psychoanalytic theory. According to her, the mechanisms protect consciousness from contradictions between the primitive and instinctive parts of the personality (in Freud's terminology "Id" or "It") and the idealistic, associated with values ​​and norms, called the "Super-Ego". Unlike most of Freud's concepts, this one has been proven in many subsequent studies and has become one of the foundational aspects of psychotherapy. nine0003

Ten defense mechanisms

Freud's daughter Anna developed her father's theory and described the ten most popular defense mechanisms that most people have. Let's talk about them.


Substitution is the transfer of negative feelings and experiences to people or objects that pose a lesser threat than those who caused them. A common example is substituted aggression. Instead of directing his anger at a real object (for example, to challenge the unfair decision of the leader), the person breaks down at the household or pets. nine0003


Intellectualization is a cold and critical reflection on events. This defense mechanism allows you not to think about the stressful and emotional aspect of the situation, but to focus only on the intellectual component. For example, a person who has just been diagnosed with a fatal disease may begin to meticulously collect and study all information about the disease, moving away from emotional experiences.


Denial is a direct refusal to admit that something happened in the past or is happening now. This is one of the most famous defense mechanisms. Due to it, a person tries to ignore things that he cannot cope with. Therefore, denial is often used to describe situations in which people fail to face the truth and accept the obvious truth. For example, a person with an addiction will say that everything is under control, and victims of traumatic events may deny that anything happened to them. Although denial may temporarily relieve anxiety or pain, it requires a significant expenditure of energy to maintain the illusion. nine0003


Suppression is an attempt to prevent traumatic information from entering consciousness. However, these memories do not disappear, but continue to influence behavior. For example, a person who tried to repress thoughts of childhood abuse may have difficulty forming relationships as an adult.


Projection is the attribution of one's own negative qualities or feelings to other people. For example, if a girl is tired of her partner, then she may feel that her parents are disapproving of him. Empathy and sympathy are also formed through projection. nine0003


Rationalization is the explanation of an unacceptable behavior or feeling in a logical way to avoid recognizing the true causes. For example, a person who was denied a date might say that it was because of bad weather. A student may rationalize a low exam grade by blaming the teacher for being biased instead of admitting that he did not prepare well. Rationalization prevents anxiety and protects self-esteem. Those who use this defense mechanism tend to attribute achievements to their own qualities and skills, and blame other people or external forces for failures. nine0003

Reaction formation

Reaction formation is giving the opposite meaning to a feeling or emotion. For example, a person may show a markedly friendly attitude towards an acquaintance whom he really dislikes in order to hide his true feelings from himself. It is often because of this defense mechanism that homophobia, racism and other types of stigmatization are formed.


Regression is a refusal to cope with stress and a return to behaviors that were used at earlier stages of personality development. For example, a person may begin to cry or act up like a child after hearing bad news. nine0003

Conscious suppression

Conscious suppression is the intentional suppression of unwanted information from consciousness. This is quite difficult, so it is most often replaced by other defense mechanisms.


Sublimation is the transformation of desires that seem shameful and wrong to a person into a more socially acceptable form. For example, a person who is very angry and would like to beat the offender may take up kickboxing. Also, sublimation can be actively manifested in creativity. Freud considered it a sign of psychological maturity and argued that it allows people to act in socially approved ways without repressing their desires. nine0003

Lack of defense mechanisms

Defense mechanisms can provide immediate relief in a stressful situation. But in the long run, they can do more harm than good. Here are the shortcomings of many of them:

  • prevent you from reaching a deeper level of feelings due to blocking reflection;
  • limit the ability to express emotions;
  • harm relationships with other people, including family and friends;
  • can lead to a breakdown due to the long containment of emotions. nine0058

Therefore, when faced with a stressful or traumatic experience, it is best not to rely on defense mechanisms. It is difficult to give up such behavioral strategies - they are often formed in adolescence and turn on automatically, against our will. However, gradually (better with a specialist) they can be recognized and replaced with healthier models.

what is it in simple terms, reasons, what gives

Devaluation as a tool of psychological defense nine0005

Psychological defense is the general name of situational techniques and actions that allow a person to reduce mental stress, protect themselves from pain, unpleasant experiences. The term “defense mechanism” itself was first used by Sigmund Freud, and his students and followers studied the phenomenon more deeply.

The main task of psychological defense techniques is to reduce anxiety, get rid of anxiety, tension, frustration, and fears. All this can be provoked by the contradictions between the impulses of our unconscious and the objective requirements of the external world that appear in the process of interaction with others. nine0003

Psychological defense tools are designed to correct a person's behavior, make him more adaptive, mentally stable, returning him to a normal state. There are many types of protection, some scientists distinguish several dozen of them, but the main ones are not more than ten. They are used most often and are easily identified.

The main defense mechanisms are: projection, repression, rationalization, substitution, regression, reactive formation, denial, introjection, fusion, somatization. The same list often includes depreciation, which will be discussed today. Some single out depreciation as a separate type of defense, while others consider this phenomenon as a subspecies of rationalization (discredit). nine0003

The main defense mechanisms of the psyche:

1. Projection - attributing to other people one's own socially undesirable desires, feelings, aspirations. So a person can relieve himself of responsibility for unacceptable (from his point of view) character traits, emotions, actions.

2. Repression - withdrawal from unpleasant thoughts, feelings, events in an attempt to get rid of traumatic experiences, internal conflicts. But, having ceased to be aware of them, a person cannot completely remove all this from the unconscious (impulses still appear in the form of dreams, slips of the tongue, unconscious reactions). It takes a lot of energy to suppress and there is always a risk that one day everything hidden will break deep into the open. nine0003

3. Rationalization (target/victim discrediting, devaluation, self-deception, etc.) – is manifested in an attempt to logically substantiate one's own desires and actions caused by a reason that is very difficult to recognize because of the risk of loss of self-esteem.

There can be two options: awareness and use in the construction of inferences exclusively of that part of the information that does not contradict objective circumstances and represents one's own behavior as controlled; the invention of verbal and logical (at first glance) judgments and inferences to create a false justification for actions. So a person manages to justify his "wrong" behavior and maintain self-respect. nine0003

4. Substitution - makes itself felt when the instinctive impulse is redirected from a more threatening object to a less dangerous one. So, an employee who is regularly provoked to aggression by the employer, due to the inability to fight back, breaks down at home on loved ones. He gives an adequate response, but directs it to a less threatening object.

5. Regression - return to earlier forms of behavior in order to adapt to a traumatic situation. A person unconsciously turns to patterns of behavior familiar from childhood (whims, crying, emotional requests, etc.) in search of security and support. nine0003

You can observe this psychological defense mechanism during illnesses, when people begin to behave like children. Thanks to regression, one can get rid of the burden of responsibility, but its abuse becomes the reason for the lack of a successful life strategy, the appearance of psychosomatic experiences, and difficulties in building relationships with others.

6. Reactive formation is a psychological defense mechanism that often forces a person to demonstrate reactions and actions that are opposite to true experiences. There is an unconscious transformation of some mental states into others. Thus, real actions can only be the result of a hidden distortion of true desires: when interest and love (if these feelings are subconsciously frightened) are covered with anger, for example. nine0003

7. Denial - involves ignoring obvious facts in order to protect the psyche from trauma, rejection of unpleasant information. This is how they often react in the first minutes to the pain of loss, reports of dangerous diseases, etc.

8. Introjection is a psychological defense mechanism that makes a person indiscriminately appropriate other people's attitudes, norms, opinions, rules of behavior, values, without even trying to understand them and, moreover, critically rethink them. Upbringing and education are built on this mechanism (when parents tell their children what and how to do in order to survive in this world). nine0003

But the habit of using introjection in adulthood can cause an inability to distinguish one's own values ​​and principles from those of others, to understand one's own true feelings and desires.

9. Somatization - this form of protection allows the psyche to get out of an intractable, traumatic situation by fixing on the state of health (the simplest example is a stomach ache before a public performance). So there is a secondary benefit from the disease - the ability to switch attention to well-being and lower demands from others. nine0003

If this mechanism is used constantly, there is a risk that it will develop into a hypochondriacal syndrome (through increased attention to health, exaggeration of the severity of the disease, the creation of one's own concepts of the disease, etc.).

10. Sublimation is the only productive and constructive mechanism of psychological defense, which consists in the unconscious switching of negative mental energy to socially useful work. When a neurotic conflict appears, a person replaces internal anxiety by switching to any occupation (cleaning, creativity, physical labor, etc.). nine0003

There are other psychological defense mechanisms - some are more common, others less. Devaluation, as I wrote above, can be viewed as a separate technique or in the context of various forms of rationalization. But I would consider this phenomenon as an independent one - we use it too often and there is something to think about.

All the mechanisms of psychological defense of a person are manifested at an unconscious level - that is, a person does not understand how he uses them and why he does it. They rarely appear in isolation, usually people use several defense mechanisms at once. nine0003

The main task of protection tools is to protect the psyche from anxiety, tension, disorganization of behavior in order to preserve the personality. But, despite the good purpose, most often these mechanisms are harmful, as they deprive a person of the ability to see things in a real light, hear himself, understand and accept with all thoughts, desires, aspirations, actions and deeds.

"Mechanisms of psychological defense enable a person to EXPERIENCE LESS, to feel unpleasant emotions less acutely, to reduce manifestations of anger, fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, etc." nine0149

Thanks to the methods of psychological defense, a person survives, adapts to the world around him and communicates with other people, regulates personal boundaries, and protects himself from destructive conflicts and injuries.

But the tools of psychological defense do not get rid of experiences at all, but hide it all deep inside. And there is always a chance that even if everything is fine now, the next time in a traumatic situation or at some particular moment it will all break out. Therefore, even under the condition that we cannot completely abandon these techniques and always control them, it is worth understanding the topic. At least to understand yourself better. nine0003

Devaluation is one of the primary (primitive) defensive tools that is most often considered in the therapy of people suffering from a narcissistic disorder. But in everyday life, we face depreciation all the time. At the very least, I became interested in the phenomenon and began to search for information on the topic precisely because I regularly observe the devaluation technique in communication.

And, having a superficial idea of ​​the existence of psychological defense mechanisms, I wanted to understand everything. Devaluation is one of the methods of psychological defense, the main purpose of which is to protect a person from a new frightening experience that can cause the destruction of the picture of the world, lowering self-esteem, loss of self-confidence and other unpleasant phenomena. nine0003

What is depreciation in simple words

If you try to explain what depreciation is in simple words, then this is a mechanism of the psyche that protects it from traumatic situations and unpleasant (for the individual) new experience by reducing its importance, significance, and seriousness. In this way, it is possible to reduce the level of anxiety, maintain self-confidence, maintain self-esteem, cope with difficult feelings, not lose inner supports and preserve the familiar picture of the world. nine0003

We tend to devalue what can become a threat to our ideas about ourselves, the world, which will make us leave our comfort zone, doubt the correctness of our judgments and actions, and bring pain. Faced with something new or terrible (for the psyche), unusual or incomprehensible, we devalue it, making it ordinary, small, insignificant, unimportant. And, therefore, such that it cannot have a serious impact on us and our lives.

“You can depreciate ANYTHING - people, their successes, feelings, lifestyle, tastes, works of art, decisions, desires, actions, thoughts, etc. »

And this is not done to offend someone, to tell the world that he is terrible, or to discredit the object, not at all. The sole purpose of devaluation is to protect one from the distress that a new experience might evoke.

You can devalue something good in others, so as not to feel your own inadequacy, protect self-esteem, maintain self-confidence. You can also downplay the significance of some unpleasant events in your own life in order to survive them, maintain the integrity of the psyche, and reduce the level of passion and pain. Those who often use this tool of psychic protection, as a rule, devalue themselves. nine0003

So the psyche is protected from strong feelings: it is easier for it to devalue the threat than to open up to a new experience. Which, if properly perceived, not only does not pose a danger, but can also be beneficial: give vivid emotions and impressions, reveal previously unfamiliar facets of the personality, become a point of growth and development.

Even the very realization that at certain moments the psyche uses devaluation for protection can tell a person a lot about himself. It means that something touched, caused certain feelings and emotions. And if you find the reason for the need to devalue something inside, you can learn to better understand and accept yourself. nine0003

Anything can be devalued: “Did you buy a new dress? And I thought it was old, it doesn’t look very good”, “Oh, I would have your problems”, “Elon Musk? I would have his opportunities, I wouldn’t have come up with such a thing!”, “Would you like? He wants to, “Did you quit? Well, okay, it didn’t have to hurt, he’s still a loser.

We ourselves devalue our desires and dreams, feelings and emotions, people nearby downplay the significance of our achievements and experiences. And this cycle is endless. It will not be possible to completely stop using the devaluation mechanism, as well as to hide from the manifestations of this phenomenon in communication with other people. But it is desirable to strive for this. nine0003

"You can and SHOULD ANALYZE your own thoughts, feelings, emotions, aspirations in order to understand when and why the devaluation mechanism is activated"

As for those around you, it is advisable to stay away from those who tend to devalue everything and everyone. For many, this is the only model of behavior and it can be safely called violence against a person.

When loved ones behave this way, communication with which cannot be avoided, you can try to talk about your feelings, outline personal boundaries, ask not to use this pattern of behavior. Perhaps this will give a result, but the probability is small, since we use the protective mechanisms of the psyche unconsciously. nine0003

But the main and surest means to counter depreciation is peace with oneself: adequate self-esteem, inner harmony, self-confidence, the ability to build eco-friendly communication with others will help to reliably protect oneself from any negative impact.

What can be devalued, how the protective mechanism works, what gives and why is a priori not effective

Devaluation involves fixation on the negative or subjectively unpleasant properties of the object, lowering its significance and, as it were, rejecting it in order to reduce the level of anxiety. This is a kind of rationalization form: a person perceives and uses only that information, thanks to which he can control his behavior and the world around him well, and not come into conflict. nine0003

For example: “Just think, he invited another to dinner - it didn’t hurt, and I wanted to! It is somehow not very interesting, and the restaurant is too noisy, and I have a lot of things planned for the evening. I will watch my favorite series. By devaluing the potential boyfriend and the date itself, it is possible to reduce the significance of this event in life and, thus, not suffer because the other one went to dinner.

You can devalue anything - thoughts, feelings, people, behavior, yourself. And as a result, get not only those “goodies” that I wrote about above (protection from traumatic situations, unpleasant emotions, etc.), but also a decrease in the level of motivation in addition, an increase in a depressive state, a feeling of “stagnation” in life, where there is no new experience. nine0003

How depreciation manifests itself: in the behavior and words of people. Usually, ignoring and downplaying are accompanied by such phrases: “yes, but ...”, “nothing special”, “just think, everyone can do that”, “oh, yes, anyone is capable of this”, “this is, of course, good, but ...”, “ it could have been worse”, “it happens to everyone”, “everyone goes through it”.

You can devalue not only words, but also intonation, certain questions, behavior. In my life, I regularly encounter the devaluation of success with phrases like “lucky you.” When the result of certain actions on my part and efforts is presented by others as a matter of course, which fell on me from the sky by accident. nine0003

I understand that it is easier for people to protect themselves from the idea that everything is possible, the main thing is to want and do it. And justify your laziness against my background with mythical luck (here I was lucky to study well, find a decent job, live as they want, but they don’t) instead of getting up from the couch and educating themselves. And I take it pretty easy.

Well, except that I can, in response to the next “lucky you with this and that”, blurt out “What’s stopping you?”. But then I reproach myself for my lack of restraint, because then I have to hear about the mass of obstacles, injustices and circumstances that prevent the poor little man from achieving his goal. And for the hundredth time I am convinced that those who want - find opportunities, and those who do not want - excuses. nine0003

I digressed from the topic, but I will add an idea. Once I read an interesting life hack somewhere: when something prevents you from doing something, replace the action with “go to the toilet” and try to apply all your excuses. “I didn’t go to the toilet and peed because I didn’t have time… I wasn’t in the mood… The weather got in the way… I was completely exhausted… There is a crisis in the global economy… Our president is ineffective…” etc.

Funny, is not it? And it is significant: we always find time and opportunities for what is really important and desirable. No options. But back to the topic of depreciation. nine0003

What can be discounted and why is it needed:

1. Another person, his achievements, success - what I wrote about above. This tool is used by people who live from the position “I am OK, the rest are not OK”. They look down on everyone, they know everything and do better, and if a situation arises in which their own infallibility can be questioned, they simply devalue.

2. Oneself, one's thoughts, sensations, feelings is also quite common. Here the position is different: "I'm not OK, the rest are OK." A person has low self-esteem, believes in his failure, looks for deceit in everything, always gets into some situations that only confirm that he is not capable of anything and is not worthy.

Usually such people devalue their own desires and feelings, are content with little, allow their personal boundaries to be violated, hide from conflicts and, in general, do not believe that they themselves are valuable and worthy of everything they want. nine0003

3. Injuries, tragedies, unpleasant situations - here devaluation acts as a mechanism for protecting the psyche from strong negative experiences, manifesting itself in specific situations. True, I don’t think that this helps much, because sooner or later you still have to face your experiences and accept them, but, in the first minutes, maybe depreciation is necessary.

Phrases like “Just think, everyone was going through a divorce and no one has died yet”, “This will pass, it’s okay”, “Such nonsense, tomorrow you will forget about it!”, “Well, you won’t return a person, calm down and live on” is unlikely whether they will make you instantly forget about feelings, but they can also add anger to them (for devaluing emotions, rejecting feelings, unwillingness to understand and just show sympathy) can. nine0003

4. Things, purchases is a very common variant of depreciation, which is designed to cover envy and justify one's own fears, anxiety, inability to afford more, etc. Friends, colleagues, neighbors, acquaintances and even relatives can devalue and deprive you of the joy of new clothes, accessories, real estate, technology, not because they are so evil and nasty.

They simply defend themselves: when they cannot buy something that they really want, when they secretly envy, feel their own inadequacy and insecurity. Healthy reactions (be glad for your neighbor, express support, make a well-deserved compliment) are not available to everyone. And all that remains is to sympathize and ignore. nine0003

The algorithm of the protection mechanism is easier to explain with an example. Situation: an employee of a company with low self-esteem, who believes in his lack of luck and career prospects, “sits out” working hours for a long time and steadily, receives little pay and hates the office.

An employee in a similar position appears nearby, interested in growth and self-education, loving what he does, motivated. He masterfully completes tasks, implements projects, earns pay increases and the respect of other colleagues. What does our less fortunate colleague do? In an ideal world, he would have to rejoice at the successes of his neighbor, be inspired by them, begin to learn and realize himself. But in that case, he wouldn't have been in that situation in the first place. nine0003

And since there is no strength and desire to respond adequately, you urgently need to eliminate anxiety and danger, protect self-esteem and your ideas. How? That’s right, to find flaws in a more successful colleague (“but he’s scary and he doesn’t have a wife”), to suspect something was wrong (“he is the son of some bump or sleeps with his boss”), etc. And keep your idea of ​​yourself, not allowing the new experience to injure the psyche.

The more often people tend to resort to devaluation, the more unstable their self-esteem and the more they are dependent on the opinions of others. The one who knows how to understand and accept his feelings, thoughts, desires, feels his own importance, is sure that he is worthy of everything he wants, rarely feels the need to devalue himself or others. nine0003

"After all, PROTECTION BY DEVALUATION makes a person vulnerable, distorts the perception of reality, takes away a resource and depletes"

To preserve existing beliefs and attitudes, it is important to constantly find confirmation of their truth, interpret reality from the right angle, and be in a state of permanent struggle with everything new and supposedly dangerous. At the risk of regularly sliding into a pool of suffering and uncertainty.

Devaluation is definitely not about inner harmony. This is about hiding your true feelings, the inability to understand and accept yourself, love yourself for what “I am”, feel worthy of everything you want, able to get and develop it. The main reason for the depreciation of other people, situations, actions, thoughts is the devaluation of oneself. And that is psychological abuse.

It is very difficult to work with devaluation, because a person who constantly uses this tool of psychological defense is in a serious condition. Needing help, he rejects her, nullifying any attempts to "pull" him into the real world and show how amazing, bright and beautiful he is. nine0003

The most useful practice is daily gratitude. It is important at least sometimes to look around and try to objectively evaluate everything that happens. What is it worth to take an open mind to someone else's success and be happy for your loved one? Compliment a colleague's new dress? Allow yourself to feel the joy of some little thing? Trust someone? And don't forget to give thanks for all the good things in life.

"In only one case can depreciation be the result of NORMAL COURSE OF LIFE (but then the process would be better called a reassessment of values)"

When, under the influence of certain events and circumstances, as a result of the development and change of thoughts, actions, principles, a person ceases to attach too much importance to what used to be important. Well, at 20+ I looked at the tags, and at 40+ I began to appreciate comfort, practicality and quality, and not the brand name.

But this is a complex and lengthy process that involves working on oneself, the ability to understand and hear oneself, to change in accordance with one's own desires and needs. And to depreciation as a mechanism of psychological protection has a rather indirect value. nine0003

What gives depreciation as a permanent form of interaction with the world

The use of any method of psychological defense takes away energy. And the more often this or that tool is used, the more the psyche is depleted. The more situations and objects appear, which it is desirable not to encounter.

Devaluing everything and everyone all the time, a person gradually completely falls out of reality, living in his own closed world. And subconsciously tries to make it so that less energy is spent on the work of psychological protection: he narrows the circle of contacts, excludes from everyday life the opportunity to encounter new experiences and disturbing circumstances, turns his life into a series of understandable habitual actions. nine0003

And, trying to protect himself from suffering, a person becomes more and more unhappy. All forces go to the defense, needs are not met, the world seems hostile and evil, and people and events around cause only anxiety and doubt. Such a person can hardly be called alive - he seems to be mummified, because of fears and internal problems he misses all the most interesting things.

Those who tend to frequently use devaluation and other forms of psychological defense see the surrounding reality as extremely depressing. Gradually, everything around is painted in a dark color, life seems meaningless and uninteresting, bringing only disappointment. If nothing is of value, then why is it all? nine0003

To maintain balance inside and at least some stability, other mechanisms of the psyche are turned on. And here it is no longer possible to avoid all sorts of distortions, addictions, unhealthy relationships, etc. It is difficult for a person to feel a connection with reality, he is easily influenced by his own illusions and other people, he does not understand himself and the world around him. And it's scary.

Reasons for using devaluation as a psychological defense

Most often, the origins of the problem are sought in childhood. When one of the parents constantly raises his self-esteem at the expense of the child, devaluing him and his merits, the child then does the same. This mechanism is often used by adults who grew up with brothers / sisters, clearly identified by their parents as smarter, more beautiful, more obedient, etc. nine0003

Children get used to not being heard, that their feelings / emotions are not important, that someone is always better and it hurts a lot, and then they do the same with themselves and other people, situations. Any success of your neighbor encourages you to look at yourself and your life with regret, closing yourself from disappointment with depreciation. Fear of a new experience, the desire to maintain self-esteem, the habit of being unimportant and unheard make you defend yourself.

Reasons for using the discount protection mechanism: nine0013

1. Low self-esteem, infantilism, inertia, unwillingness to bear responsibility and decide something - it is easier to give up something and lower its significance than to achieve, work on oneself, develop. “Did you pass the exam perfectly? But I don’t need it, I don’t study for the sake of grades. ”

2. Protection from the pain of past experience - to relieve oneself of responsibility for failure. “We didn’t work out with her, because she is a fool and it was clear from the very beginning.” Protection from pain in the present - when it is difficult to recognize and live feelings, there is a fear of pain, it is easier to devalue everything at once than to understand and accept. "I don't need it, I'm already happy." nine0003

Protection from future disappointments and pain - the desire to lower the significance of something in advance (often based on previous negative experience), so that later it would not be painful and unpleasant. “All men are goats”, “If I don’t get this position - well, I don’t need it, it’s good for me here, but there is more responsibility.”

3. Fear of taking risks, desire to stay in one's cozy safe little world - it's easier to come up with a thousand reasons and convince yourself that something is not needed, not important, not significant, than to open up to new experience, go towards unfamiliar circumstances, meet different people etc. nine0003

4. Devaluation as manipulation - often used in relationships when one partner assures the other of his worthlessness for the sake of obtaining his own benefits (maintaining relationships, fulfilling desires, etc.).

5. Maintaining a low level of aspirations - when "it will do", because otherwise you will have to work, develop, engage in self-education, strive for something. And be sure to make mistakes, experience not only ups, but also downs. nine0003

6. To increase self-esteem, self-affirmation at the expense of other people. When everything that someone has achieved and was able to, seems to be the result of luck, something unimportant, uninteresting, uncomplicated, etc. “Have you made a scientific discovery? Nonsense, anyone can. And here I am…”.

7. Because of the unwillingness to be responsible for the feelings of another person - this is usually done by parents when there is no strength / desire / time to understand the feelings of the child. “It's a shame? Such nonsense, don't bother!" nine0003

8. Protection from frightening strong feelings - it is easier to devalue a person and relationships, to generalize and humiliate, than to start trusting a partner, risk getting used to him, get closer, open up.

The difference between devaluation and criticism, depreciation and adequate evaluation

Devaluation is not equal to criticism, supported by arguments, constructive discussions and facts. After all, even without criticism it is impossible to objectively evaluate yourself and the world around you. If this tool cannot be used, any person, work, phenomenon, thing, etc. will be considered a priori impeccable and the really best will cease to be valuable. nine0003

The main difference between criticism and depreciation is that the first is always supported by facts, objective assessments, and specific arguments. There is no place for far-fetched claims, stupid nit-picking, getting personal, insults, etc. , but there is a logical analysis, a competent opinion, an adequate assessment, and the desire to achieve a better result.

A devaluing person does not hear the opponent, appeals to feelings, forgets about logic and objectivity, transfers the conversation to himself, judges one-sidedly, detracts from the importance of the subject of discussion. And does not offer anything useful, constructive, reasonable. nine0003

Depreciation also differs from an adequate assessment. After all, it can really be that something beautiful / valuable / important for one has no meaning for another. Everyone has different tastes, as well as the idea of ​​\u200b\u200bbeautiful, correct, reasonable. Therefore, the inability to appreciate something and the misunderstanding of its importance is not always a depreciation.

A sound assessment of something also has the right to life. It differs from depreciation by the lack of desire to convince everyone around that they are right. Do not see the need to buy an expensive car? But your friend is happy - be glad that he experiences these emotions! But do not spoil the mood and do not destroy happiness with stories about expensive car maintenance, the likelihood of an accident, reasoning why you do not need it, etc.

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