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  • Dr. LaNail R. Plummer

Is it a Toxic Environment…or is it you?


So, last week, we talked about toxic environments and the exploration that sometimes, the environment is an impetus for transformation, not toxicity. But here’s another factor we must consider:


We are the nucleus of our world and sometimes, the environment isn’t toxic, we are.


Whoa, whoa, whoa, before you get defensive, start cursing me out in your head, writing me off and telling others that I ain’t _____, let’s consider it.


Let’s consider, what if you have been hurt, damaged, deserted, and afraid, and in the midst of all of it… you did the natural thing and developed a defense mechanism. You did this because…. you wanted to defend yourself from hurt, disappointment, confusion, and abandonment. What if you did it to protect yourself from something or someone? Would that be bad? Nope. It would be natural, instinctual, responsive.


Now let’s take it one step further. What if that defense mechanism kept you alive, emotionally and mentally. Would it be bad? Nope.


Ok… ready for it? Let’s take it one step further. What if that defense mechanism is applied to that one specific environment but you are, unconsciously, trying to make it apply to a new environment that is different but still a bit scary. Would that be bad? Well, yes. And here’s why.


We learn certain behaviors, skills, and defense mechanisms, they are situational, not universal. If we make it practical- you learn to ride a bike… and use two feet… and this makes sense when you are on a bike, but if you use two feet to drive a car, you will crash. The skill of using 2 feet makes sense on the bike but not in the car. Some of our defense mechanisms make sense in one environment but not in the other.


So, when we try to apply an old defense mechanism in the new environment, the environment is not wrong, we are.


And it’s not on purpose… not at all.


We have to use our Emotional Intelligence to increase our self-awareness, acknowledge when and why the defense mechanism was made, acknowledge how we feel about having to make that defense mechanism part of our survival, grieve the experience that made us defensive, grieve the change it created in us, then process the new experience that is making us defensive, and create coping mechanisms instead of a defensive mechanism.


Oh, what a heavy process, right? I get it. I have to do it in therapy too… and we are here to help you do it too 😊.


So as we move forward, let’s take a second to consider, is the environment toxic or am I using the wrong skills at the wrong time and creating the poison…


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