Horsey Therapist

Sunday, April 27, 2008

More thoughts on defenses

I've been thinking about defenses. I sure wish I understood horse's defenses as well as I understand human defenses!

A gal I know is defended. That might be the most simple way to explain her words. Her defenses are speaking. Her defenses (just like mine or yours would) take over when things get feeling out of control.

Everyone's defenses look a little different from other peoples but there are patterns and the folks who study psyches and such are good at recognizing this pattern of defense or that one.

Defenses protect oneself from feeling too much fear, from feeling like we're going to die. I might like calling them an important part of our survival instinct. Just like with horses. We have survival instincts, too.

We tell the horses, silly horse, nothing to be afraid of, even while we admit we don't really understand what scares the horse about the stick on the side of the road, or was it the leaf or the pebble?

Same with people, we say silly person for acting that way, but really we don't understand what made them feel afraid for their life. But they do. We do. I do.

We're more sophisticated than horses are and make up elaborate and "reasonable" stories about what motivates us. But essentially, it's the same deal for us as for horses. We're scared. And if we can't run away or because we couldn't run away when we were really young and vulnerable, we run to our imaginations and make up stories to make light of the terror we're feeling.

Then we start believing those stories. And forget the terror.

And if someone reminds us that hey, the terror is real, the stories are made up, we can't tolerate the possible disintegration of everything we've believed in and so we distance ourselves from those people. We have to keep the house of cards standing! Not really really do we have to keep the house of cards standing, but we do really feel threatened by anyone who threatens to send it crashing to the ground. And what do we do when we feel threatened?

We make up a story, most likely a story that belittles the person who threatens us with some reality we are not ready for.

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