Blog 42: Are You Defended? But What Does This Actually Mean?
Over the years some of my clients would start therapy by saying that they’ve had a very happy childhood.
But, when listening to their presenting problem it soon became clear that their relationships and careers did not reflect their ‘happy childhood’ statement.
Often we do not realise that much of what we feel as adults, actually started in childhood. The feelings start in childhood and then over time we just get used to these them and they become part of us.
Until one day – when we begin to realise that something is wrong.
This realisation is usually triggered by a change in circumstances.
Difficult circumstances (like the loss of a partner or a relationship, a death in the family, a loss of a child, retirement or change in employment and financial circumstances) can bring suppressed feelings to the surface and sometimes this can come as a quite a shock.
In the last few Blogs, I have written about the complexities of how we develop and how important it is to work through all the stages of development otherwise – what we have omitted to work through, may come to bite us on the bottom many years later and often it’s when we least expect them too.
Sometimes emotions are buried deep and if they are not acknowledged and if they are not resolved, they may rear their ugly heads in unexpected ways – so that we can finally deal with them. But this takes courage.
Working through missed developmental stages or emotions in adulthood can take time because usually what was felt all those years ago can be buried so deep within the psyche or the unconscious, that uncovering them is not that easy and it can also be very frightening.
Carl Jung wrote that “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”
However for others, they may have had quite enough of the negative and destructive feelings that have prevented them from moving forward and achieving their life goals.
This is often the reason why people find their way into therapy. It is when enough becomes enough.
It is when the denial becomes too much to bear, even though the client may still not be aware of what is going on.
Acute denial, self-protection mechanisms, vehement justifications, over-intellectualising are all characteristics of what is known as a ‘Defended Client’. It is someone who has suppressed the past because it was just too painful to bear.
Uncovering these emotional memories or experiences may take longer than perhaps originally hoped for.
It takes longer, because if the feelings have been buried deep within, then the defence mechanism put in place also need to be understood and they may even have to be ‘negotiated’ in order to release what has been hidden for so long.
However, I am always deeply honoured by anyone who allows me to help them delve into their pain. And I am sure anyone doing this work would feel the same.
It is often a difficult journey but one that has many rewards.
The most important reward is the enormous relief people feel when they finally begin to understand that it is no longer necessary to feel bad, and that it is no longer necessary to defend that which lay boiling below the surface for so many years.
Do you by any chance feel ‘defended’?
If so, what’s stopping you from moving forward and reaching out for help?
© 2016 Information Copyright Deidré Wallace
PS: If you need to find a therapist – ask around or ask your doctor if they know of someone good. It will do you no harm.
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