Some years ago I thought of writing a book called “Relax Your Defences" but then I realized it wouldn’t appeal because most of us are trying to strengthen our defences!
By that time, I had seen that it is the ego's defence mechanisms that block our capacity to awaken. I had also noted that as a therapist you may work with someone for years, but there will be little growth if you don't address their defences.
If you want to awaken then you need to relax your mental defences, because they keep you trapped in your mind.
As your defences relax you grow more harmless and less reactive to other people and situations. Being harmless includes being transparent, vulnerable and sensitive in your relationships.
If you have been badly hurt in childhood then you may struggle to release your defences, because it feels too frightening to do so. What can you do then, when you realize that you are trapped by your defences and can’t see past your fearful story?
One solution is to talk to someone and get support in releasing the repressed emotions and self-esteem issues created by early abuse or neglect.
Such unresolved pain is the basis for mind-made disease.
As my teacher Leonard Jacobson has said, you need to own, acknowledge and confess what you have become as an ego. Until you acknowledge and confess your wounds and hang ups, the tendency is to keep adding fuel to the fire by playing games in your relationships.
Games are motivated by your defences and are a way to deny your problems. They also prevent you from being truly intimate and authentic in your relationships.
It helps to recognize that there are people who care and who can guide you through your issues, but you do need to take the first step and reach out for guidance.
It takes courage, humility and a fair amount of suffering to accept that there is a problem that needs to be addressed. The suffering is what motivated me to find support.
Healthy defences demonstrate the ego-mind’s amazing capacity to protect your personal integrity when under stress. It is only when your defences become too rigid and entrenched, that they need to be addressed.
Some defences are essential in our early years and protect us during traumatic events, but they need to be surrendered if we want to mature and awaken.
As I have often said to people. “Getting in touch with your emotions won’t kill you, but denying them may”. (Especially, if denial leads to acting out behaviour such as addictions.)
At any one point in time, you are either in your mind and your defences are creating inner conflict, or you are in the present moment and the mind is still and at peace.
It really is that black and white, but you need to experience Presence to be convinced of this fact.
The following list of defences illustrate the many ways we defend against unresolved fears, hurts and anxieties and delay our growth.
Denying a desire or thought that we have and then projecting it onto someone else and judging them for it. (The accused person may not have done anything).
Having one feeling inside, but then displaying its opposite to other people. eg. Laughing, when you feel like crying.
Outright refusal to admit to our actions. eg. A child who denies stealing the chocolates, even though his face is covered in chocolate. Lying also comes under this category.
When we have suppressed or denied an aspect of ourselves for too long, inner pressure builds up and erupts as uncontrolled aggressive or sexual behaviour.
Examples of acting out include:
Resorting to addictions to suppress painful feelings or memories.
The abused person who then bullies others, mentally or physically.
Competition: We feel inferior to someone, so we compete with them.
Seducing others because we believe it’s the only way to get love or attention.
The overwhelming fear of a parent’s power or judgement can lead us to identify with them. We then grow up acting like them and judging and abusing others in the same way the parent judged us. Nb. Identification can also have a healthy purpose.
Pushing down sexual or aggressive feelings because you have been judged or punished for having them as a child. Again, they can erupt when least expected.
Going back to habits or behaviour from an earlier developmental stage, because your current experience is too painful. e.g. A child of 5 or 6 sucking their thumb during stressful events.
There are many other defence mechanisms, but these are the key ones.
So the main thing is that as you learn to surrender your defences then your mind quietens and you merge with Presence.
NB. If you have concerns about your mental health, please contact a mental health provider in your area.