We have an inbuilt fear mechanism that has been with us since the dawn of man. It was and still is a very helpful mechanism to have when we are in threatening environments.
In other words, whenever we came into the presence of a hungry tiger, our senses would feed back data to our subconscious and then it would come to the conclusion that we are in fact under threat. The brain would send a signal to activate the release of adrenalin into the body and this would serve us to either fight or run from a threat.
Now we experience this when we get put on the spot, or a situation in our lives doesn’t meet up with our minds expectations. This is when tension arises, thoughts race through our mind, our heart rate increases and we experience those uncomfortable sensations.
The defensive mechanism of the mind isn’t just about fear. Anger is another popular emotion we experience because of the defensive mind. As an example, we experience anger when someone close to us is abused, this along with upset.
So you see that we have a large spectrum of emotions which are wielded into the defence mechanism of the mind. But should we fear them? I think we don’t need to. The reason being is that our defensive mechanism is not out to get us, it is out to protect us.
Yes it makes us feel uncomfortable, tense and full of disturbing sensations… but aren’t we supposed to feel this way in the face of danger? Wouldn’t it be weird if we felt harmonious if someone was attacking us?
It’s the same defensive mechanism we experience when we perceive a thought to be horrible, a situation coming up that intimidates us, someone judging us etc etc. What makes us think that it is dangerous to experience these uncomfortable sensations? It isn’t.
What do we normally do when we experience these sensations?
We turn to alcohol, junk food, drugs, smoking, taking it out on others (this causes me distress) excessive shopping or anything that serves as a distraction. Sure distractions are not necessarily a bad thing. There are plenty of healthy distractions in the world, but the ones listed above don’t fit into that category. And it’s a real shame that a lot of people rely on these things during times of stress, anxiety, elevated levels of anger and so on.
What I find to be the most effective ways
Exercising seems to be one of the most effective ways that exist when it comes to dealing with any of the disturbing emotions we experience whenever the defensive mechanism is triggered. I find even going for a walk to be very soothing. It helps me walk off any agitation or tension. It doesn’t happen straight away. But by about 20 minutes into the walk I feel refreshed and emotionally balanced.
This can be very useful when you want to relax and bring yourself back into normalcy. Meditation offers us a chance to be forced into the only moment there is, now. But it’s important that you learn to not judge your thoughts or sensations.
Seeing them as just neutral thoughts and feelings can be very helpful indeed because it pulls you out of having that defensive mentality towards them, which naturally creates resistance. And resistance just feeds the beast. There is a saying going around – “whatever you resist will persist” and it’s true.
Being immersed in your favourite hobbies
This is a great way for channelling all of that defensive energy we experience. Focusing our energy on what we enjoy doing is not only well… enjoyable, it takes our attention away from the situation and on how we’re feeling.
When we sit and ruminate over our defensive thoughts and emotions, it doesn’t tend to go well because we cannot come up with any solutions whilst we are thinking and feeling irrationally. So what I’ve found in my experience throughout life is that focusing on hobbies acts as a fantastic diversion.
It literally pulls our attention away from our thoughts, feelings and sensations and brings in new fresh behaviour and thinking which is not contaminated with defensiveness.
This just doesn’t happen when we’re focusing on the issues. Focusing on how we feel just creates more of focusing on how we feel. It was Einstein who once said that we cannot solve a problem with the same level of consciousness that created the problem.
Focusing our mind on more interesting and important things forces our attention outwards and allows our minds to generate new ideas and come up with problem solving suggestions.
Or because the defensive mechanism switches back off, there is no need to even come up with solutions as it’s already happened. The solution being that the defensive mechanism of the brain has calmed back down and crawled back into it’s hole.
Taking on the perspective that our mind has a self-correcting mechanism
Check out my article on this topic right here.
Not minding how you feel
I’ve said this many times and I’ll continue to say it for as long as I live. Trying to escape from the way you feel by fighting it only strengthens the emotional disturbances. By trying to make these thoughts and uncomfortable sensations go, you keep it in place.
I used to spend most of my life trying to win over the battle with my mind and you can’t win that battle by adding more resistance.
Resistance makes stronger. When you don’t mind how you feel, you weaken the self defense mechanisms hold over you. When you don’t try to force the resistance away, when you don’t try to change the way you feel, it doesn’t feel as disturbing.
All the above suggestions can work extremely effective on their own or when put into practice together.
But with exercise, meditation, diverting your mind through hobbies, not fighting how you feel which in turn allows your mind to find it’s own way back to your natural state of emotional balance, you won’t go far wrong.
An article over at www.InnerPeaceNow.com inspired me to write my version of the minds defensive mechanism. Thanks Adam Oakley!