Category Archives: Coping Mechanisms

Defense Mechanisms

Robert F. Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

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This is a draft of Chapter Twenty-Eight – “Defense Mechanisms” in ReChanneling’s upcoming book on moderating social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities. We present this as an opportunity for readers to share their ideas and constructive criticism – suggestions gratefully considered and evaluated as we work to ensure the most beneficial product to those with emotional dysfunction (which is all of us to some degree). Please forward your comments in the form provided below.

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Defense Mechanisms

“Unable to cope with fear and uncertainty,
a person resorts to denial, repression, compromise,
and hides behind the mask of a false self.”
― Kilroy J. Oldster, Dead Toad Scrolls

Unhealthy or negative coping mechanisms are called defense mechanisms – temporary safeguards against situations difficult for our conscious minds to manage. Defense mechanisms are mostly unconscious psychological responses that protect us from our fears and anxieties. At one time or another, we will likely use a defense mechanism of some kind to protect ourselves from threats to our emotional well-being and sense of self. 

Without coping mechanisms, healthy or otherwise, we can experience decompensation – the inability or unwillingness to generate effective psychological coping mechanisms in response to stress – resulting in personality disturbance or disintegration.

There are extensive lists of defense mechanisms. Cognitive distortions are considered defense mechanisms. Any mental process that protects us from our fears, anxieties, and threats to our emotional well-being is a defense mechanism. Some, like Avoidance, Humor, Isolation, and Intellectualization need no explanation. Compensation, Dissociation, and Ritual and Undoing have their positive value as well and are utilized in our recovery process. The following nine coping mechanisms are commonly exploited by persons living with social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities.

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RITUAL AND UNDOING

Substance abuse is the uncontrolled use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or prescribed medications that affect our performance. It is a huge element in Ritual and Undoing – the process of trying to counter (undo) our SAD-induced negative self-beliefs and image by performing rituals or behaviors designed to offset them. Using drugs, pharmaceuticals, and alcohol to calm our fears and anxieties in a situation (1) can be physically harmful, (2) requires increased dosage to maintain the same effect, and (3) is a temporary solution to a long-term problem. Exercising Ritual and Undoing for positive gain is a valuable coping mechanism. It supports negative to positive neural restructuring, and the replacement (undoing) of our negative thoughts and behaviors with positive ones.

COGNITIVE DISTORTIONS 

Cognitive distortions are exaggerated or irrational thought patterns that perpetuate our anxiety and depression. In essence, we twist reality to reinforce or justify our toxic behaviors and validate our irrational attitudes, rules, and assumptions. We have willowed down the expansive (and redundant) number of cognitive distortions to thirteen that are most associated with social anxiety disorder. 

Always Being Right. Our need to always be right protects our fragile self-image sustained by our fears of criticism, ridicule, and rejection. Being right is more important to us than the truth or the feelings of others. We aren’t comfortable with thoughts or opinions that contradict our own. In our formative years, many of us were undervalued – subject to the circumstances of our childhood disturbance. Our parents may have been controlling or dismissive, and our siblings abusive. Some of us never experienced positive feedback or appreciation. This drives the impulse to disregard thoughts and viewpoints that conflict with our own.

Blaming. Blaming is when we wrongly assign responsibility for things and happenings. One focus of our accusations is external blaming – holding outside forces accountable for things that are our responsibility. Blaming someone or something for our personal choices and decisions seems illogical, but remember, SAD sustains itself on our irrationality. Internal blaming is assuming personal responsibility for the problems of other people and the things that go wrong which do not involve us. Internal or self-blaming can be expressed as power or weakness (Control Fallacies.). When we blame ourselves for our symptoms, we feed into our perceptions of incompetence and ineptitude. Believing we have power and influence over other people’s thoughts and behaviors can be seen as grandiosity. Both correspond to our low self-esteem and sense of inferiority.

Catastrophizing drives us to conclude the worst-case scenario when things happen, rather than considering more obvious and plausible explanations. It is the irrational assumption that something is far worse than it is. We validate this by Filtering out the alternatives. We anticipate and prophesize disaster and twist reality to support our projection. If our significant other complains of a headache, we assume our relationship is doomed. If this happens again, our belief is confirmed.

Control Fallacies. Control Fallacy is the conviction that (1) something or someone has power and control over things that happen to us or (2) we hold that type of power over others. We either believe events in our lives are beyond our control, or we assume responsibility for everything. When we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as weak and powerless, blaming outside forces for our adversities. Conversely, the fallacy of internal control is when we believe we have power and influence over other people’s thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. We blame ourselves for their mishaps and misfortunes. 

Emotional Reasoning is making judgments and decisions based on instinct or feelings over objective evidence – best expressed by the colloquialism, my gut tells me…  This emotional dependency dictates how we relate to things. At the root of this cognitive distortion is the belief that what we feel must be true. If we feel like a loser, then we must be a loser. If we feel incompetent, then we must be incapable. If we make a mistake, we must be stupid. All the negative things we feel about ourselves, others, and the world must be valid because they feel true. Emotional Reasoning is an oxymoron. Resolving this opposition is a crucial element of recovery. 

The Fallacy of Fairness is the unrealistic assumption that life should be fair. It is human nature to equate fairness with how well our personal preferences are met. We know how we want to be treated and anything that conflicts with that seems unreasonable and emotionally unacceptable. Fairness is subjective, however. Two people seldom agree on what is fair. The fact that those of us living with SAD are predisposed to emotional reasoning or personalization does validate the irrationality that life is fair.

Filtering. When we engage in Filtering, we selectively choose our perspective. Our tunnel vision gravitates toward the negative aspects of a situation and excludes the positive. This applies to our memories as well. We dwell on the unfortunate aspects of what happened rather than the whole picture. Negative filtering is one of the most common cognitive distortions in anxiety because it sustains our toxic core and intermediate beliefs. Our pessimistic outlook exacerbates our feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. We accentuate the negative. A dozen people in our office celebrate our promotion; one ignores us. We obsess over the lone individual and disregard the goodwill of the rest. We view ourselves, the world, and our future through an unforgiving lens.

Heaven’s Reward Fallacy is when we put other people’s needs ahead of our own with an expectation of reciprocation. Contrary to others who share this cognitive distortion, SAD persons are not seeking heavenly reward, but acknowledgment in this one. We continually say yes to others while denying ourselves, We tell ourselves our motives are selfless, but we accommodate out of neediness and loneliness. Consummate enablers, we ingratiate ourselves and allow others to take advantage to compensate for our feelings of undesirability and worthlessness. 

Jumping To Conclusions is judging or deciding something without having all the facts to substantiate our beliefs or opinions. We become fortune tellers and mind-readers, assuming we know what another person is feeling or why they act the way they do. When we form our automatic negative thoughts (ANTs) we usually jump to conclusions because the only evidence we rely on is our fears and anxieties which are abstractions based on perception rather than reality. When we overgeneralize or filter information we usually jump to conclusions. 

Labeling. When we label, we reduce an individual or group to a single, usually negative, characteristic or descriptor based on a single event or behavior. As a result, we view them (or ourselves) through the label and filter out information that contradicts the stereotype. Our SAD symptoms encourage labeling because of our preconceived notions about how others perceive us. Our fears of criticism and ridicule label our projected antagonists as rude and dismissive. If we anticipate rejection, we label them cold and untrustworthy. Negative self-labeling like inadequate and incompetent supports our sense of hopelessness and undesirability.  

Overgeneralization. When we engage In this cognitive distortion, we draw broad conclusions or make statements about something or someone unsupported by the available evidence. We make blanket claims that can’t be proven or disproven. Everyone knows Suzie is a liar. To imply that everyone thinks Suzie is a liar is an exaggeration without consensus. A few colleagues may share our opinion, but not the whole world. We overgeneralize when we base our conclusions on one or two pieces of evidence while ignoring anything to the contrary. 

Personalization. If someone says to us, “don’t take it personally,“ we are likely engaging in personalization. When we engage in this type of thinking, we assume we are the cause of things unrelated to us. We believe that what others do or say is a reaction to us – that random comments are personally relevant. For those of us living with social anxiety disorder, personalization is symptomatic of our belief we are the center of attention and the subject of criticism or ridicule. 

Polarized Thinking. In Polarized Thinking, we see things as absolute – black or white. There is no middle ground, no compromise. We are either brilliant or abject failures. Our friends are for us or against us. We do not allow room for balanced perspectives or outcomes. We refuse to give people the benefit of the doubt. Worse than our anxiety about criticism is our self-judgment. If we are not faultless, we must be broken and inept. There is no middle ground. 

COMPENSATION 

Compensation is when we direct our attention and energy to complimentary aspects of our personality to avoid dealing with perceived inadequacies. In other words, we overachieve in one area of our life to compensate for failures or deficits in another. A teenager might compensate for his learning difficulties by excelling in sports. While she or he may accrue social and physical benefits, it can cause long-term problems unless educational issues are properly addressed. In recovery compensating for our fears and anxieties through certain defense mechanisms can be beneficial as long as we address them honestly and rationally. Replacing our negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy and productive ones is positive compensation, as is recognizing and emphasizing our character strengths, virtues, and achievements to compensate for our low self-esteem and perceptions of inadequacy. 

Like any approach, moderation is the key. It is easy, especially for those of us living with SAD, to overcompensate by setting unreasonable expectations or undercompensate by minimizing or dismissing our character flaws. 

DENIAL

Denial is one of the best-known defense mechanisms that we use to protect ourselves from thoughts and behaviors we cannot manage. Our inability or refusal to recognize trauma or personality defects is detrimental to recovery. People experiencing drug or alcohol addiction often deny that they have a problem, while victims of traumatic events may deny that the event ever occurred. SAD persons are disproportionately resistant to recovery because they deny its personal impact or its destructive capabilities as if, by ignoring them, they don’t exist or will somehow disappear. Our core sense of hopelessness and worthlessness does not encourage a willingness to accept our diagnosis, which is the primary criterion for recovery.

Even with overwhelming evidence, we deny feelings and experiences that need to be addressed by rejecting them or minimizing their importance. Denial allows us to lie to ourselves; it does not eliminate the situation.

DISPLACEMENT 

Displacement involves taking out our fears and frustrations on people or objects that are less threatening. An example would be the worker, reprimanded by his superiors, who goes home and kicks the dog. This defense mechanism is prevalent in SAD persons due to our symptoms. We feel incompetent, inferior, or unlikeable. We are unduly concerned we will say something that will reveal our shortcomings. We walk on eggshells, convinced we are the center of 

everyone’s attention. We anguish over things for weeks before they happen and negatively predict the outcomes. Our overriding sense of helplessness convinces us that nothing can alleviate the distress of our negative self-beliefs. When the pressure threatens to overwhelm our emotional well-being, we often take out our frustrations on persons or things that pose a limited threat such as a roommate, sibling, or total stranger.

DISSOCIATION 

Dissociation is a disconnect from reality to shield us from distress and traumatic experiences. In theory, our mind unconsciously shuts down or compartmentalizes distressful thoughts, memories, or experiences. Daydreaming or streaming television to avoid conflict is a harmless form of dissociation. Conversely, morphing into multiple personalities (dissociative identity disorder) is defined as psychosis.

In recovery, we deliberately dissociate ourselves from SAD as a mental exercise that helps us regenerate our self-esteem. We redefine ourselves by our character assets rather than our social anxiety disorder. To repeat the analogy I use regularly when we break our leg, we do not become the injured limb. We are someone experiencing a broken leg. 

PROJECTION

Projection is when we subconsciously deny our character defects yet recognize them in another. Rather than accepting them as a natural component of our symptoms, we project our negative thoughts, experiences, and behaviors onto someone else. Often when we instinctively dislike or avoid someone, it is because we have projected our disagreeable tendencies onto them. Oblivious to our own awkwardness, we ridicule a friend’s clumsy attempt at socializing. Or rather than deal with our unhappiness, we project it onto someone else. 

RATIONALIZATION 

Rationalization is when we justify our irrational thoughts and behaviors by creating a variety of logical explanations for them. We may be doing this intentionally, or unconsciously when we rationalize unmanageable feelings or experiences. Rationalizations are used to defend against anything that threatens our emotional well-being. Attributing our headache and dry mouth to the flu, rather than the massive consumption of alcohol the evening before is an example of trying to justify our behavior by creating an alternate explanation.

The defense mechanism of rationalization is not to be confused with rational response, which we construct by identifying and analyzing our situational fears and anxieties. 

REPRESSION

We often conflate regression with repression. Regression is when we revert to an earlier or less mature stage of psychological development where we feel safe from emotional conflict. Repression is the exclusion of painful impulses, desires, or fears from the conscious mind. Repression is a psychological attempt to unconsciously forget or block distressing memories, thoughts, or desires from conscious awareness. Often involving aggressive childhood disturbance but applicable to any untenable trauma, we direct these unwanted mental constructs into areas of our subconscious mind that are not easily accessible. In recovery, personal introspection and interrogation can expose regressed memories as part of the discovery process. 

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.  

Chapter 19: Coping Mechanisms for Unexpected Situations

Robert F. Mullen, PhD
Director/ReChanneling

Subscriber numbers generate contributions that support scholarships for workshops.

This is a draft of Chapter Nineteen– “Coping Mechanisms for Unexpected Situations” in ReChanneling’s upcoming book on moderating social anxiety disorder and its comorbidities. We present this as an opportunity for readers to share their ideas and constructive criticism – suggestions gratefully considered and evaluated as we work to ensure the most beneficial product to those with emotional dysfunction (which is all of us to some degree). Please forward your comments in the form provided below.

<Nineteen>
Coping Mechanisms for Unexpected Situations

“If you do not expect the unexpected,
you will not recognize it when it arrives.”
– Heraclitus

More sage advice from war strategist, Sun Tzu: “Attack is the secret of defense; defense is the planning of an attack.” In recovery, oucoping strategy attacks our fears and anxieties by devising a plan that considers all contingencies. We face two combat scenarios that call for combined and distinct strategies. We engage, knowing the terrain and logistics in advance, and we defend against the surprise attack. Both demand a planned and practiced counteroffensive. Logically, our campaign is more structured when we know what to anticipate. The unexpected requires a more presumptive approach. There are effective coping mechanisms for both situations, and those more adaptable to one or the other. Chapter Twenty-One focuses on coping mechanisms for anticipated and recurring situationsThis chapter focuses on those mechanisms that help us cope with the unanticipated. For that, we assemble what we will call our emergency preparedness kit. 

Since adaptability is not one of our strengths, we start with workshop activities that are easier for us to handle, then work our way up to more challenging responses. This form of recovery is called Graded Exposure or systematic desensitization. We challenge our feared-situations in structured, less threatening environments before moving onto real exposure. This allows us to build up our confidence slowly by familiarizing ourselves with coping mechanisms through practice and repetition. We keep the training wheels on our bike until we have achieved the level of comfort and competence where we can ride safely with two. 

An emergency preparedness kit contains essentials like food and water, first-aid items, and shelter options. It might include prescriptions, utensils, extra clothing, flashlights, a compass, blankets, and tools. We do not know, in advance, the specific nature of the emergency, so we do the best we can by preparing multiple rational options. The same theory applies to our unexpected situation. We fashion our coping mechanisms to cover the multiple contingencies. 

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The bad news is that there are as many feared-situations as there are imaginations. From barbershops and family holidays to social events and the public swimming pool, the situations that arise in workshops are personal and distinctive. Where are we when we feel its impact? What are the specific set of circumstances – the facts, conditions, and incidents? Who or what provokes our stress? None of this is knowable in unexpected situations. The good news is there are a limited number of symptoms to consider. Social anxiety disorder offers less than a dozen. The following list is provided by the Mayo Clinic. Others vary in presentation or description, but the symptoms are the same. I have provided this list before, but there is a lot of information to digest in this book – a subtle reminder of the importance of repetition.

  • Fear of situations in which we may be judged negatively
  • Worry about embarrassing or humiliating ourselves
  • Intense fear of interacting or talking with strangers
  • Fear that others will notice that we look anxious
  • Fear of physical symptoms that may cause us embarrassment, such as blushing, sweating, trembling, or having a shaky voice
  • Avoidance of doing things or speaking to people out of fear of embarrassment
  • Avoidance of situations where we might be the center of attention
  • Anxiety in anticipation of a feared activity or event
  • Intense fear or anxiety during social situations
  • Analysis of our performance and identification of flaws in our interactions after a social situation
  • Expectation of the worst possible consequences from a negative experience during a social situation.

This is a short list. Admittedly, the symptoms have broad implications, but when the box only has twelve crayons, there are not a lot of colors to pick from. Recognizing our symptoms is not difficult; distinguishing the triggers is challenging – the who, where, and why? Once we know those, we can associate our fears and corresponding ANTs. Even though we cannot know the specifics of an unexpected situation, we have enough information to determine the coping mechanisms best suited to accommodate and challenge the unexpected. 

Coping mechanisms are designed to fulfill one or all of our three recovery objectives. Cognitive and behavioral mechanisms replace or overwhelm our life-consistent negative thoughts and behaviors with healthy ones. Positive affirmations, rational response, and other positivity techniques produce rapid, concentrated, neurological stimulation to change the polarity of our neural network. Recognizing and emphasizing our strengths, virtues, and accomplishments regenerate our self-esteem. Healthy coping mechanisms are adaptive – positive contributions to our emotional well-being. 

Cortisol and adrenaline. We briefly touched on the significance of our fight-or-flight neurotransmissions.  Scientists have identified over fifty of these chemical hormones in the human body. They are the messengers that control our physiological functions – our metabolism, homeostasis, and reproduction. Their distribution is precise. Even slight changes in levels can cause significant disruption to our health and emotional well-being.

Cortisol and adrenaline trigger our fight-or-flight response – our instinctive reaction to stress. Produced by our brain’s amygdala, cortisol helps to regulate our blood pressure, circadian rhythm, and digestion. Adrenaline, transmitted by our adrenal glands, causes our air passages to dilate, redirecting more oxygen to our muscles. It relieves pain and boosts our body’s immune system. When these hormones are transmitted into the bloodstream, our body experiences a heightened state of physical and mental alertness. Blood vessels contract and send blood to the heart, lungs, and other major muscle groups. Normal amounts of cortisol and adrenaline are necessary to our basic survival, and in most cases, beneficial to our overall health and physiological well-being. Conversely, in stressful situations, the sudden influx of cortisol and adrenaline contributes to the physical and emotional symptoms that aggravate our fears and anxieties.

Chronic stress induced by our SAD symptomatology causes a higher and constant neurotransmission of cortisol and adrenaline into our system. Not only does this increase the risk of health problems like heart disease and stroke, but it contributes significantly to our anxiety and depression, causing problems with memory, cognition, and sleep patterns. Coping mechanisms dramatically reduce the influx of these neurotransmissions.

Coping Mechanisms for Unexpected Situations

Some coping mechanisms are so familiar and simplistic, we tend to reject them offhand. It is important to be mindful that our social anxiety compels us to resist healthy ideas and concepts. Just as there is no one right way to do or experience personal recovery, so also what helps us at one time in our life may not help us at another. It is prudent to consider all coping skills and have them available in all situations, and then utilized the ones that bring you the most relief in a particular circumstance. As the saying goes, if you refuse to sample the items on the menu, do not blame the chef when you go hungry. Anyone successful in their recovery will tell you these coping mechanisms are clinically trusted and highly effective. The following are useful in any type of feared-situation.

Slow Talk

I begin with Slow Talk because it is one of my favorite coping skills. One annoying symptom of our social anxiety is our fear of physical betrayal. We have the tendency, in stressful situations, to reveal our anxiety through excessive blushing, sweating, or trembling, not to mention the very real possibility of disorientation and fainting. When we engage in conversation, especially with strangers, our voice often trembles and stutters. We speak unassertively, lowering our voice to a whisper, and speaking rapidly in a subconscious effort to minimize our presence. Slow Talk alleviates this concern and is effective anywhere or anytime we feel stress in personal interaction. Speaking slowly and calmly slows our physiological responses, alleviates rapid heartbeat, and lowers our blood pressure. As an added advantage, hold back any response for roughly five seconds. That deliberate delay not only reduces the flow of cortisol and adrenaline but also makes us appear thoughtful and confident. 

Small Talk

Small Talk is informal conversation that does not cover any functional or transactional topics. It is succinct, non-confrontational, and mundane communication that connects us with others in a stress-moderate environment. Small talk is practiced in a workshop as a part of graded exposure. This coping mechanism is an important asset to those of us who find it challenging to initiate or join a conversation. 

Controlled Breathing

Nerves are bundles of fibers that use electrical and chemical signals to transmit information from one body part to another. The vagus nerve is the longest in our body. It originates in the base of our brain and extends down our neck and through our diaphragm, heart, lungs, and digestive tract. It controls our heart rate and keeps our nervous system in check. Research shows that just as we proactively reconstruct our neural network, we can also prompt our vagus nerve to decrease the flow of cortisol and adrenaline and release GABA and serotonin for calm and relaxation. Scientists tell us that the simplest way to manipulate our vagus nerve is to practice controlled breathing. This abbreviated controlled breathing exercise takes roughly a minute. We can secretively perform it in a hallway or restroom without revealing our anxiety.  

Place one hand on your abdomen, just above your navel, and the other hand in the center of your chest. If you are worried about being observed, eliminate the hand gestures.

  • Open your mouth and exhale your breath. Allow the muscles in your upper body and shoulders to drop down and relax.
  • Hold your breath for roughly six seconds. 
  • Slowly inhale through your nose for six seconds. Expand your stomach as you pull air in.
  • Pause for a few moments – as long as is comfortable, then open your lips and gently exhale through your mouth while pulling your stomach in.
  • Repeat at least five times.

Distractions and Diversions.

Distractions are stationary physical elements we identify when confronted by an unexpected feared-situation – a picture on the wall, a vase, mirror, or light fixture. Diversions are activities that fulfill the same function, e.g., becoming a greeter, dancing, or doing a survey of the guests’ reasons for attending. We establish items and preplan actions to divert our center of attention from the emotional distress of our anxiety to a physical action or mental reaction. The availability of distractions and diversions is only as limited as your imagination.

Obviously, devising distractions and diversions is easier in anticipated situations where we have some foreknowledge of the logistics. We know the locale, the agenda, and the personnel. We have the time to decide what stationery items to focus on, and what activities will work in our favor. This is not easily accomplished when we suddenly find ourselves thrust into a situation, assaulted by the rush of cortisol and adrenaline. The unanticipated emotions of our anxiety make it difficult to concentrate. It is an acquired mental process we learn through graded exposure. There are concentration exercises designed to achieve this level of spontaneous concentration. It is prudent not to go overboard on our destination and dissertations. Three of each is more than sufficient. With additional recommended coping mechanisms, we will have enough on our plate as it is.

Positive Personal Affirmations. 

If we are working, assiduously, on our recovery, we have three, active PPAs in our repertoire at all times. We are repeating them throughout the day, accelerating and consolidating our neural restructuring. Utilizing them in stressful situations moderates anxiety and its physical components. It is common sense.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). 

Like controlled breathing, PMR takes less than a minute and can be performed surreptitiously in a corner of the room, a hallway, or a restroom. Each component of the exercise is held for roughly 10 seconds.

  • Raise your shoulders toward your ears… tighten the muscles there. Hold. Release.
  • Tighten your hands into fists. Very, very tight… as if you are squeezing a rubber ball very tightly in each hand. Hold. Release.
  • Your forehead – Raise your eyebrows, feeling the tight muscles in your forehead. Hold. Now scrunch your eyes closed. Hold it. Relax.
  • Your jaw – Tightly close your mouth, clamping your jaw shut. Your lips will also be tight. Hold it. Release
  • Breathe in deeply through your nose. Hold it. Release the air through your mouth. Repeat at least three times.

Rational Response

What is the difference between PPAs and Rational Responses? Positive personal affirmations are self-motivating and empowering statements that focus on the general aspects of our condition. A rational response is situationally specific. It is designed to rebut the automatic negative thoughts that correspond to our fears and anxieties in a particular situation. They focus on those stress triggers that impact us at a particular time in a particular place. 

Rational response is a mental response to an emotional challenge. When confronted by our fears and corresponding ANTs, we ask ourselves, “How logical are these fears?” “ What is the worst that can happen?”The answers to those are our rational responses.

Example: Recently promoted, Nancy is required to participate in a company strategy session. She recognizes it is a feared-situation. She is anxious because it will include her more experienced contemporaries (mostly male) who are unfamiliar. She needs to make a good impression in an alpha-male competitive environment. She fears her more knowledgeable counterparts will recognize her shortcomings, criticize her, and reject her as one of their peers. Her corresponding ANT is “I will be judged and criticized.” Her rational responses might include, I belong here as much as anyone, “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t qualified,” and “I am equal to any person here.”

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Do not be fooled by the simplicity and familiarity of these coping mechanisms. Our first reaction is to dismiss them as unproductive because of our resistance to rational concepts and our general sense of futility. Nothing has ever worked before, why should we expect that to change? Of course, the answer is, we have been doing all the wrong things. If something feels right to a SAD person, you can count on it being counterproductive. SAD is clever and manipulative. I tell my clients, “Trust your instincts. After you’ve spent a few weeks in recovery.”

We are not limited to the coping mechanisms outlined, but it is important not to overwhelm ourselves. One of the general principles of war is simplicity. Our strategy should be clear and concise, utilizing mechanisms that are personally productive, well-practiced, and comfortable.

In Chapter Twenty-One we will focus on coping mechanisms that are geared towards moderating our fears and apprehensions of anticipated and recurring situations.

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Comments. Suggestions. Constructive Criticism.

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WHY IS YOUR SUPPORT SO IMPORTANT?  ReChanneling develops and implements programs to (1) moderate symptoms of emotional dysfunction and (2) pursue personal goals and objectives – harnessing our intrinsic aptitude for extraordinary living. Our paradigmatic approach targets the personality through empathy, collaboration, and program integration utilizing scientific and clinically practical methods including proactive neuroplasticity, cognitive-behavioral modification, positive psychology, and techniques designed to regenerate self-esteem. All donations support scholarships for groups, workshops, and practicums.