Tag Archives: change

The Final Episode: Rationalization As A Self Defense Mechanism

Defense Mechanism

Self Defense Mechanism

 

 

“I was surprised to get your call this morning. Are you sure you don’t need more time? It’s only been two weeks since you started on the job.” Mr. Mohanad Zahir asked me when I walked in. He was standing on the terrace, observing his gardeners at work.

“Well, I finally found the last missing piece of the puzzle. Mr. Zahir, I think you’ll need to sit down for this” I replied. “Now before I tell you who it is, can I ask what your next step would be?”

“Justice will take its course for sure.”

“No matter who the culprit may be?” I asked.

“No doubt about it” Mohanad shook his head. “Let me tell you something about me, Miss. I’ve built a whole empire and taken it to unparalleled levels of success. I would’ve never reached as high as I have reached if I was the type to cut corners or compromise my integrity.”

I contemplated on his words for a silent moment. Being the sole heir to the Zahir’s fortune, I knew for a fact he’d inherited the whole empire from his late father. The man was obviously in utter denial.

“You must have inherited this grit and fortitude from your father as well. I hear he was a legend.” I added carefully.

“Is that what you’re insinuating? That I’m just a tag along? That nothing I do on my own will ever be considered ‘legendary’ compared to my father’s achievement?”

Uh-Oh here comes a whole lot of projection

“I know what people are saying behind my back.” Monahad continued. “But I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished and I’ve never allowed myself to live in my dad’s shadow.” Mohanad rested his elbow on knees, then rubbed his forehead while closing his eyes silently.

“Is everything okay?” I asked.

“Just a small headache. I was working late last night and didn’t get much sleep. If you’ll excuse me for one sec.” Mohanad briskly walked to the door and yelled at the top of his lungs. “Alfreddddd. ALFREEEDDDDDD!”

“Sir?” Alfred came running like a headless chicken.

“Advil” Mohanad demanded rudely. And even though within a minute the painkiller was served to him on a gold plated tray next to a tall glass of water, Mohanad still snapped at the poor butler for taking forever, and insulted him for his incompetence. Doesn’t take a genius to see this was conversion and displacement put together.

“You seem very stressed Mr. Zahir” I said.

“I’m fine. I get this sharp pain in my shoulder and splitting headaches every now then.” He declared.

“Do you remember when those symptoms started exactly?”

“No, not that I recall”

“Since your car accident perhaps?” I asked.

“What car accident?” Mohanad panicked. His face suddenly flushed blood red.

“The one you got into last year. Your son Hamza mentioned you’ve been short with him ever since.”

“Oh?”

“He said your were livid about your brand new Maserati getting wrecked, and according to him that was an ‘understatement’”

“What are you getting at?” Mohanad breathed heavily.

“So, it occurred to me, you know when your insurance company denied your claim, that perhaps you would’ve voided the contract with them, but on the contrary, you renewed it.”

Mohanad stared back at me, his eyes wide with horror.

“I guess you forgave them and moved passed it when you realized they were right all along. The accident was a result of your negligence and reckless driving.” I insisted.

“Don’t you dare say NEGLIGENCE! I LOVED THAT CAR!” Mohanad yelled as he grabbed a crystal vase and slammed it against the wall. “That rotten manager tried to make a complete fool out of me. He strung the insurance claim out for months and then practically called me a ‘vulture’ when I tried to retrieve what was rightfully mine.”

“So you stole your wife’s necklace and buried it in the secret garden, and since your family has been their pristine customers for years and years, you knew the insurance company wouldn’t refuse your claim twice in a row,”

“I didn’t steal it, I used it to get my money back.”

“Even if that were justifiable, the insurance money you got for the necklace is way more than the amount you requested for the first settlement check.”

“What about the pain, suffering and anger I had to endure for a whole year? You can’t put a price on that Miss!” Mohanad scoffed. “Can’t you see? They OWED ME every penny.”

“I don’t know what to say, Mr. Zahir. This is rationalization and you know it” I shook my head disapprovingly.

“So what’s gonna happen now?” Mohanad sighed.

Later that evening….

 

“Oh no you DIDN’T” My assistant Jenna said with an exaggerated accent.

“What else was I supposed to do? Like my friend Mr. Zahir says, ‘justice has to take its course’” I smiled.

“Wow! Well he certainly got what he deserved.” Jenna agreed. “But now help me out here. Why would Mohanad go through all this trouble of hiring you? He already got the insurance money so why open the case again?”

“With most insurance policies, even after the expenses have been paid, there’s usually a grace period where either party is allowed to reopen the claim after its been settled. I guess Mohanad tricked everyone by hiring me. Him being so adamant to find the thief is proof enough he didn’t do it, and it would definitely discourage the insurance company from reopening the case and wasting their time and money.” I said.

“And he really convinced himself he wasn’t doing anything wrong!” Jenna screeched.

“It’s a self defense mechanism called ‘rationalization’. When we do something against our morals, we sometimes tend to ‘rationalize’ our behavior. We defend our actions by giving excuses or reasons to ourselves, making them more acceptable and making our conscious feel less guilty.”

“I still can’t believe it. All this time we were searching for the thief and he was right there before our eyes!”

“Allah is fair honey. We’ll all eventually pay for our wrongdoing.” I said as I packed my stuff to leave. “That’s a wrap ladies and gentlemen. My work here is done. I can finally go home and slip peacefully into a nice, long coma”

“ORRRRR…. You can put this story to good use and write a thriller series about the different types of self defense mechanisms.” Jenna winked.

“If only you knew….” I laughed as I walked away.

 

 

The End

 

 

 

Author’s Commentary

Any thoughts on why I always get the blues whenever I write the last paragraph of the final episode of any series?

I’m gonna miss Amy! And I’m still worried about Hamza’s future and Sameera’s fixation on the past. And most of all, I’m REALLY gonna miss you guys. I guess I’m not ready to say goodbye yet, and the editors are just going to have to drag me out of here screaming and kicking LOL.

All jokes aside, there’s actually still a lot more to say about ‘self defense mechanisms’. Some of them are really productive too, like those who channel their anger into cleaning (yeah, my best friend does that, and needless to say her house is spotless). Some use humor to lessen the impact of tension or uncomfortable emotions, while others might go out for a run when they’re distressed or beat the hell out of a punching bag. Those are all considered more ‘mature’ types of defense mechanisms, and even though we know that, do most of us reject them in times of despair?

Yes

Does it make us horrible people?

No….

I think our hearts aren’t designed to endure so many struggles. We’re already drained from those inner battles we fight silently. Every. Single. Day. We don’t need new contenders to add salt to the wounds, thank you very much. Because when you’re trapped inside a burning building, no one will blame if you yell or scream or use your boss’s new Armani coat to put out the fire. When you’re trapped inside your fear, insecurities and anxieties, you’ll rationalize your behavior. You’ll give yourself excuses, or snap at someone else, especially if that person tries to expose your weakness at a time when you obviously need every ounce of strength you can muster to survive that invisible inner war no one knows about except you.

But here’s the thing, now that you know what some destructive self-defense mechanisms look like, you’ll have a hard time rationalizing them. Whenever you act out, project, form an extreme reaction, dissociate, slide into denial or fly off to fantasy land, a little part of you will remember this series and a voice in your head will whisper ‘Who are you kidding?’. It will be difficult at first, especially when someone criticizes you, and you have to swallow your anger instead of yell back ‘why don’t you shut your pie hole and take a long hard look in the mirror first, HAAAAAA?!’.

You’ll clench your jaws till your teeth shrink, or lie to yourself and pretend you’re not even hurt. It’ll be like getting hit so hard and yet doing nothing about it, which is, to use the clinical term, a very ‘stupid’ plan. No one is asking you to take more than you can bear, because sooner or later, you’ll collapse to the ground. All I’m saying is don’t keep the pain inside, and don’t pass it on to someone else. Resolve it in a healthy manner. Respectfully stand up for yourself when you feel oppressed, identify your triggers and get down to the core of the problem, or just sit alone with your feelings until they pass through and release into tears. True, rubbing salt on the wound hurts like a son of a gun, but do you know what else the salt does? It purifies it….

So don’t resist the pain and don’t keep it inside either. I’m begging you…

I’ve seen so many loved ones block out their pain, or stuff it deep in their hearts. It changed them. The little specks piled up into poisonous venom eating at their goodness, their kindness and their ability to love and forgive.

And I just can’t watch you do that to yourself, too. I can’t watch you slap a band aid on an infected wound and hope that everything will be okay. The mere fact you’re reading this tells me you have so much potential. And I hope….

Oh I so hope, you’ll break free from the shackles of silent pain. I hope you’ll find it within your ego to stop defending and attacking so you can finally find peace….

Okay I’m getting emotional here, so before I start using humor to mask my emotions let me quote one of the most beautiful du’aa in the history of all du’aas.

 

“Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people.”” – The Holy Quran 2:286

 

I know you wouldn’t defend yourself unless you feel attacked.

And I know you’re probably thinking ‘she has no idea what I’m going through or what kind of blame, hurt and destruction I’ve had to endure from those who were supposed to protect me.’

You’re right. I don’t.

But I also know we all sink into dark moments….

When we think our hearts will never heal.

When we think there’s no room for us grow; there’s barely room for us to breathe.

When we have no energy to hear ‘constructive’ criticism, not when some of us already feel flawed and inadequate all on our own.

I know all that. And somehow, watching you read this, I feel like I know you too.

And I know you’re better than what you give yourself credit for…

And I know you’re a lot stronger than you think….

 

All my love,

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Change Your Story… BACKWARDS!

Published on IUO Blog
31st December, 2015
This is the original version

 

Change.jpg

You’ll never believe what just came in the mail right now….

A DVD of YOUR life!

Wanna have a movie night? Yay!

I got popcorn, candy and sodas. Let’s skip the trailers and get to the good part.

Awwww here you are crawling! Oh and there you are taking your first steps! That’s SO CUTE!

Here you’re disgusted coz you don’t like your veggies…
Potty training, chicken pox, time outs…

Okay skip, skip, skip….

First day of school…
First tooth falling off…
Oops! Finding out tooth fairies don’t exist (sorry!)
First secret crush…. Long weekends, spring breaks and summers… all the way to graduation… wow those must be some really cherished memories….

You smile and tear up as you relive those moments and I just sit here munching on popcorn and watching you instead of the movie!

Okay, change of plans! Let’s skip to the beginning of Year 2015…

There we are… perfect!

It’s January 2015 and you have that determined look on your face! You have so many plans and so many dreams! “2015 is the year people!” You announce proudly. You promise to be organized, productive, positive….

You know what? You vow to just be A-MAZING!

By June, motivation pipes down and you realize most of what you had planned is still un-done, you’re falling back into old habits and well… Who cares anyway! It’s summer time so let’s just relax and enjoy it….

And it’s all fun and entertainment till the very serious month of September peeps in and you realize three quarters of the year had passed and you’re still the same… staring at your ‘I’m gonna be amazing’ list with one eye-brow up.

Hmmmmm…

And before you know it, you’re holding the little 2016 calendar that came as a gift with the too many pizzas you ordered and you’re like, “What? It’s December already?? Fine! Then 2016 is the year people!”
The screen reads “To Be Continued… (Or actually: To Be Repeated Next Year…)
You look at me, shrug, then get up to leave.

“Hey, where you going? Come back!” I momentarily stop eating popcorn. “Give me that remote!”

The Things You Wouldn’t Change

We tend to be so hard on ourselves sometimes. We tend to look at the bad and believe our worst reviews, all the while letting the good slip away. This IS NOT the story of your life. There’s so much more…. Let’s rewind…

Here! Pause this scene!

Look! You’re sleeping peacefully…. Because you didn’t hold grudges or maybe you made someone smile from the heart that day! Remember?

There… It’s Ramadan and your tears are falling down during prayer… you prostrate and make Du’a… coz you know Allah is listening and you suddenly feel so close to Him… You know He’s there watching over you… Would you even trade that serene moment for the world?

Pause these scenes: You’re focused on your studies, swallowing your anger, holding the door for a stranger, hugging a scared child, smiling with so much love at your spouse or kids, kissing your mom’s hand, running an errand for someone in need… this is all you! You’ve done so much good this year…. You just forgot….

Go backwards and relive your story…
All this pain you’ve endured…
All the times you thought you failed and decided not to give up….
All the problems you’ve managed to solve…
All the lessons you learnt through people who walked into your life to teach you something new…
All the laughter, the heartache, the surprises, the celebrations, the disappointments, and the stress…. So much has happened…

And you know how I know you’re already amazing? It’s coz you’re reading this now…. And let’s face it, all my readers are amazing… (Yeah, I’m just biased that way J)

But the main reason you’re a success is coz you’ve been through all of this. You’ve fallen and gotten back up and you’re ready to start again….

You’re amazing because you’ve survived….

 

The Things You Can’t Change

I’m confused. Your life-movie is suddenly a sob-fest. What did I miss?

You’ve heard bad news. Things didn’t go your way. You’ve lost a loved one. There was an accident, or a downfall, or an unexpected detour….

Was it something that you did wrong? If yes, then yeah beat yourself up a little bit and then go fix it! Deal with the damage. Apologize. Seek Allah’s forgiveness. Start over and do it right this time.

But if it’s something you can’t change, if it’s not a mistake or something you can control then I’m telling you, it’s destiny… it’s meant to be. It’s an integral part of the script… that scary or sad scene that turns events around before the happy ending.

Maybe you don’t know it now… but you will find out soon. God does everything for a good reason. You just need to trust in His choices and accept them.

(And then when you see the blessing behind it eventually, you’ll come back and tell us, coz we’re dying of curiosity here, okay!)

 

The Things You Really Want To Change

If this year was just a dress rehearsal, and next year is the real thing, what would you change?

If you could go to bed right now, wake up and all your problems have suddenly disappeared. What would your life be like?

If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently…?

Big questions, huh? And we rarely think of the answers coz we simply save last year’s file on the desktop and open a new window.

New promises. New plans. New resolutions!

Wake up and smell the promotional calendars people! It’s a trap!!
You can’t navigate to a better place if you don’t know where you are now.

You need to look back, see what you did wrong before you can ever try to make it right.

Look back at all the good you did, and repeat the pattern that worked best for you. Maintain the habits, attitudes, and the little things you did to pile up a cherished treasure of amazing memories.

Look back and accept the things you can’t change. Make room for them in your life. Switch stuff around and adjust to your reality peacefully.

Look back and find the courage to change the things you can. It won’t happen overnight, but at least there’s a starting point on your map.

Your life is not scattered notes. It’s all connected, flowing and perfectly managed by the One Merciful Allah. It’s a beautiful book that tells your unique story… and how you’ve touched and changed so many lives around you.

Look back; give yourself credit for reaching this far and embrace who you are…

Coz sometimes it’s the new things you learn about your past that can totally change your future…

See the bigger picture and realize the truth of this present moment… It’s not what you did, or what you will do…

It’s what’s in your heart right now that makes you amazing….

 

Happy New Years!

Lilly S. Mohsen

 

Tell us about something good you did this year in the comments box below. Inspire others with your story…. Sometimes one word can change someone’s world…