Let’s start with Avoiders. What are the most common defenses of Avoiders? It took me into my late thirties to really become aware of my defenses and even longer to learn to set them aside.
Minimizing/ Denial: You completely reject the thought or feeling.
“I’m not angry with him!” (Defenses can even sound Christian)
“I don’t care what anyone thinks.”
“I don’t need them anyway.”
Avoiders have been minimizing for so long they don’t know how often and how much it is woven into their being. Being needy or having feelings as a child was just not safe. So feelings and needs are minimized and denied until they hardly exist. One avoider said to me in a workshop…. “What if you just don’t have feelings?” My answer was, “Have you ever known a baby, toddler or small child without feelings? We are all born with feelings. We are all born needy. It is the messages our parents give us about feelings and needs that determine what defenses we need to get rid of these normal, natural, (God given) aspects of being human.”
Jesus did not minimize or deny his feelings. Throughout the Bible, God talks a lot about his feelings. Remember our famous saying…if you don’t know what you feel; you won’t know what you need. Feeling are like indicators on a dash board…they tell us what the car is doing and what the car need to keep going. Ignore that dash board and you’ll eventually come to a complete halt.
Rationalization: You come up with various explanations to justify the situation (while denying your feelings).
“All bosses are jerks.”
“My Dad was fanatical; I just stayed away from him.”
When most people would have a feeling in response to a situation, the avoider rationalizes the situation to avoid feeling.
Intellectualization: A type of rationalization, only more intellectualized.
“My dog died when I was 8 years old but we got another one.’
“You wouldn’t feel bad if you just stop thinking about it.”
“I’m fine; the funeral was two weeks ago.”
While thinking is good it is not meant to exclude feelings. Avoiders learned not to feel or need because life was much safer that way. As a child if feelings are shamed discouraged or ignored and if having feelings brings pain and embarrassment, it’s a smart idea to minimize, dampen, deny, rationalize and intellectualize. These defenses may come in handy at work or on a trip to the grocery store. In marriage and parenting, we need to be able to identify and understand our feeling and needs.
Next week the pleaser.
Copyright © 2009 Milan and Kay Yerkovich