Defense Mechanisms: How to Deal with them

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Defense Mechanisms: How to Deal with them

Have you ever noticed how you react when you encounter any conflicting situation?

When we experience a stressor that elicits negative feelings, our subconscious tries to analyze the situation and, in order to protect us, deduces whether the situation will harm us or not.If the subconscious feels the situation will cause us any emotional harm, it will try to protect us. 

This system of protection that will come into action is called DEFENSE MECHANISM.

Defense mechanisms are psychological strategies that are used by us unconsciously to protect ourselves from any situation that arises from anxiety as an unacceptable thought, feeling or situation. Well, it may seem like a cool system set up by our body, but in the long run, it may cause us much harm than good. Relying on them entirely is detrimental to our mental health.


As the name suggests, it means not to accept. 
Denial mechanism means refusing to accept reality or facts and as a result blocking any external events from our awareness. It means you are struggling to accept reality because it is causing you stress.


  • You do not talk about the problem
  • You will try to find ways to justify the problem
  • You blame other people or situations
  • You avoid thinking about the problem

One could deny the death of their loved ones, refuse to accept the reality, and behave like they still exist. This is also a common stage of grief.

Dealing with grief?    


A loved one or a friend could act as a catalyst.

  • Help them acknowledge the reality.
  • Introduce the facts and make sure you do it in a non-threatening way.
  • Try and create a safe environment for confronting difficult situations.


Unlike suppression, which is fully conscious, repression is an unconscious act that blocks or suppresses any painful thought or feeling that causes distress.


  • Being sweaty
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Palpitations
  • Headache
  • Dizziness

To name a few.  

One who has been bullied at school may still find it challenging to deal with social situations and experience anxiety. This behavior may not be attributed to any trauma that one experienced back in school. It can also manifest itself as phobias.


  • Take time for yourself and think about recurring situations that make you anxious.
  • Try journaling and talk-based therapy to explore your feelings.
  • Seek support from your loved ones, and do not hesitate to address situations that make you anxious.


The defense mechanism of projection is an interesting one. It means to attribute one's own feeling of acceptance onto others. 

Maybe you do not like a co-worker at the office because of how they talk. You find yourself talking about it that I don't think they like me or I think they hate me or have some problem with me.


  • Try to take responsibility for how you feel.
  • Try to walk in other people’s shoes and take their perspective into account.
  • Try to challenge your thinking.


This defense mechanism crops up when one is not able to express how they feel as the target is threatening and the expression of emotions is transferred to a safer target.

A very common example is when your boss shouts at you, and you want to shout back at them, but you cannot. So you go back home and shout at your mother,wife, children or your siblings.


  • Identify the true source of your anger.
  • Practice assertiveness to express your feelings directly (not in the case of your boss)
  • Engage yourself in activities that would help you reduce your stress and help you manage emotions.


A very common defense mechanism is when you try to rationalize your behavior or feelings with a seemingly logical reason to avoid the true reasons.

A very common place where this Mechanism Shown is when dealing with lifestyle changing issues. 
You might choose not to eat sweets for a week. But when your friend offers you chocolate, you instantly rationalize and say 'one piece won’t hurt'.


  • Try and challenge the validity of the presented justification
  • Be honest with yourself and self-reflect.
  • Seek feedback from those who you trust.

You might also like our blog on self-control    


Among all the defense mechanisms used, this might be the most healthy one. Sublimation happens when you channel all unacceptable impulses into socially acceptable activities.
For example, when you are angry, you might go out for a run.


  • Recognise and validate what the underlying impulse is.
  • Find healthy and constructive ways to map your emotions.
  • Create a balance between your activities and interests.


Regression, as the word suggests, means to regress to an earlier stage of development in response to any stressor.


  • Crying
  • Curling up
  • Tantrums
  • Being mute

When one is sad, they may curl up in their bed in a fetal position and hug a teddy to feel at ease.


  • Learn to be emotionally mature and explore different coping strategies
  • Build an environment that is safe for you to express what you feel.
  • If you are dealing with someone who regresses, try and encourage age-appropriate behaviour and encourage them to do so.


This is an interesting defense mechanism in which an individual reacts opposite to what they really feel about the unacceptable thought or feeling.
When we do not like a colleague at the office, we might talk to them in an overly apologetic and sweet manner as compensation.


  • Try to address the underlying feelings.
  • Try to talk to trusted people and be truthful about how you feel.
  • Use therapeutic techniques to let go of what you feel.

Defense Mechanisms are resources that are used by our ego to help us protect ourselves. It is an interesting and amazing system created by our body to help us navigate any emotion or problem effectively and channel our energy productively. They may express themselves more severely in people who have experienced childhood traumas. When used excessively, they even have the potential to ruin relationships, and so it becomes important to address and recognise them.  

Dealing with life stress is overwhelming. It demands patience and consistent effort and work. It is not a single-day achievement but a long-term dedication to self-improvement and growth. As we develop the ability to exercise self-control and start to make thoughtful decisions, we can eventually improve our ability to perform and function.

Normalises Seeking Help: Solh combats the stigma connected with mental health by establishing a judgment-free zone. This can encourage someone who is struggling to seek expert help.

Anonymous Support Groups: Connecting with those who understand your problem can be 
quite useful. Sharing experiences and realizing they are not alone can provide a great source of comfort and encouragement.  

Talk Now: When dealing with overwhelming emotions, have access to a counselor who can help you guide you through any hiccup you face.

Clinical Support: The app's simple access to confidential consultations can be an excellent initial step for someone struggling to achieve goals who is hesitant to pursue traditional in-person therapy.

Other: Solh is a one-stop place for you to access and navigate different sources, such as audios, guides, and reading material, to help you deal with any ongoing stressor.

Download the Solh App Now!