Do you retreat into yourself when problems arise? Do you prefer not to hear bad news? Maybe you are shutting down as a defense.
Here's our outline:
- Which of these statements do I connect with about shutting down?
- “When I am stressed, I retreat into myself.”
- “If I don’t think about a problem, it will go away.” (Tom)
- “Instead of doing something, I chew over my problems in my head, over and over.”
- “I escape into a book/movie/tv show/video game/… when I don’t want to face something.”
- “Conflict just shuts me down. Sometimes I can’t even talk.”
- “I keep busy with unimportant tasks, so I don’t have to face the things I don’t want to do.” (Tom)
- “When there is chaos around me, I can’t do anything. I just shut down and retreat into my skull.”
- “I hide by not answering the phone, or not opening mail.” (Tom)
- “I fantasize about a better future, but I don’t seem to be able to do anything about getting there.” (Tom)
- “In an airport or other public space I make sure nobody will sit next to me.” (Tom)
- “I avoid difficult conversations at all costs.”
- “There’s only one way to survive life. Shut down, or get hurt and die.”
- What have I learned about myself, and about my ways of “shutting down” and “escaping”?
- Conflict avoidant.
- Lack of self-worth/self-esteem.
- Fear of criticism, rejection, other mental/spiritual harm.
- Fear of bodily harm.
- Fear of intimacy.
- Denial — if I don’t “know” about a problem, maybe it won’t happen.
- When can it be healthy to “shut down”?
- Taking a break
- What tools can I use to face daily conflicts, problems, and discomfort of dealing with other people?
- Serenity prayer.
- Other prayers.
- Inventory. (I can’t change something if I don’t see it.)
- Check in with program friends.
- Living in the moment. “One day at a time.”
- Practicing Step 10. “… and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
- HOW: “Honest, open, and willing.”
- Detachment — “it’s not me/mine”
- Scheduling activities with others to prevent a self-isolating funk
- Progress not perfection
Some online resources
Emotionally Closed Off: Healing Pain and Learning to Love
Why Anxiety Causes Detachment “Why anxiety causes detachment” (about the “bad” kind of detachment — distancing, emotional shutting down)
Upcoming topics include another “gift of Al-Anon”. This one is “Our sight, once clouded and confused, will clear and we will be able to perceive reality and recognize truth.” Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email email@example.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.
The 12 Traditions as a Guide to Relationships (PDF)
Music from the show
Christina Perri: Jar of Hearts
Alessia Cara: Here
Cocteau Twins: Throughout the Dark Months of April and May (and, yes, I mis-stated the title as “… March and April”. Wishful thinking?)
1 comment on “Shutting down as a defense – Episode 152”
As a wife of 20 years to an alcoholic, I thank you. I see myself in many of the situations you discuss. I didn’t understand why I have been shutting down and avoiding, but it is becoming clear. I have only been to 1 or 2 Alanon meetings over the years, but plan on making this a priority!!