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Centerpointe Research

Disorders

How We Fool Ourselves

Denial and rationalization are two ways we think we fool ourselves into thinking we don’t have a problem when we do.  Of course, it is not just you, yourself, who does this, other people do it too; but you have more control over it when you work on changing yourself instead of other people.  Also hopefully you will be less defensive about being confronted with what you do than somebody else will be if you do it to them.

When you deny something, you pretend, and sometimes believe, that it doesn’t exist.  It is well known for being one of the stages of the process of grief.  If something doesn’t exist, you don’t have to deal with it; but that doesn’t solve the problem which still exists and which may get worse if you don’t recognize it and do something about it.  College students who concentrate on partying often find this out at the end of the semester when they fail their classes and have to leave school because of their grades.

Rationalization seems to be a more sophisticated form of defense mechanism.  With rationalization, you admit that you have done something but for a good reason.  You were justified in doing what you did.  It is often used by passive aggressive people to justify their behaviors that are hurtful to others.  For example, they say, “But I was only doing this to help you,” when at some level they know it was something that you feel didn’t help at all.  Many times people feel broadsided by this type of behavior.  We often learn this early because it gets us out of being held accountable for some behaviors until somebody catches on to what we are doing.

The clear wings make this South-American butte...

The clear wings make this South-American butterfly hard to see in flight, a succesfull defense mechanism. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

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Got Ya!

Have you ever felt that there was something slightly wrong with something someone did for you?  It could be a form of passive aggression which is a way of indirectly expressing something or doing something the other person wouldn’t like without being held accountable.  They might even say about the behavior that they were only trying to help you.  Yet you sense that their motives are less than pure.  You wind up unhappy in the relationship and when you call them on it, they act misunderstood and sometimes even offended.

Once when I was in a relationship that was falling apart, my partner was still handling the bill payments for both of us and obligated me for a repair contract on an appliance that I was taking with me, but which I felt that I didn’t need and which would cost money that I couldn’t afford to spare when paying my bills on my own without my partner’s income  He didn’t ask me what I wanted in this situation and I found out about it indirectly when I was looking at some paperwork.  I confronted him about this. Of course, he felt that he was only doing me a favor.  What I found overall in the relationship was that his tendency to frequently resort to passive aggressive behavior was one of the reasons I left the relationship.  There are other forms of passive aggressive behavior and the one most given as an example is agreeing to do something and then messing it up,  My partner agreed to do the bill paying; but I was not happy with the way he was doing it.

 

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