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What is displacement and its impact| 01.10.2023

You'll Learn

  • What is displacement and why it's important
  • How displacement impacts relationships
  • Examples of displacement
  • How to handle displacement


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This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about ideas on stress management and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not psychotherapy/counseling in any form.

Welcome to this week's close the chapter podcast. First, I wanted to start off with a thank you for being here with me. And for tuning in to this episode on displacement. And the importance of talking about this topic. It impacts every single person I've worked with, including myself in my own life. And we're not really sharing much about what is displacement? Why is it important? And how does it work? Exactly. So we're going to dive into that today. And before we get into that, I want to check in how is the start to your new year? How are you feeling? Did you pick a word? I'm curious, I'd love to know your words, a few of you have DM me and shared your words. I did an episode two episodes ago, on choosing a word for the New Year why it's important, what is that all about? My word is expansion of self, Mind, Body Spirit. Beliefs, I'm really working on opening up even more, I'm on a continuously on a growth journey. And I want to be able to love even bigger. And in order to do that, I have to continue to expand and open myself now that may scare some of you. And I'm at a place now where I want to really attune to what is going on right here right now, in this very moment. Those part of this journey of expansion, noticing any kind of displacement of how I'm feeling, or what I perceive is really targeted for myself, and I'm putting it on to somebody else, I want to be aware of that. So I want to hit a pause button. Before we dive even deeper into this topic, to jump on the mailing list at Kristen k r i s t e n d Boice b Oh ice.com forward slash free resources, you will get a healing guide a journal of sorts to help you begin, or maybe you're in the middle of your healing journey, I will always be on a healing journey. So I just wanted to create something that was useful, helpful, practical, that you can implement in your life right now. So it'll be emailed to you. Also, on social media, I try to post as much helpful information as I can. And it's on Instagram of Facebook at Kristen D Boice. Tic Tac, which I'm just learning how to do at Kristen Boice, and Pinterest at Kristen Boice. So follow along. Also on Twitter, Kristen Boice, all the platforms. I just want to be helpful and support you, as you're expanding yourself. Because when you expand the healing begins. When we're contracted, that's a moment of pause to see am I shut down? What am I feeling? What am I afraid of? Because the healing is stuck at times when we're contracted because we're trying to protect ourselves? And so just kind of exploring? How can you open yourself up to possibilities to hope to different ways of seeing something or diving deeper into deconstructing ideas? There's so many ways to expand. So just curious about your word for 2023. So you can go back and listen to that Two episodes ago. love to know your word, because I'm so interested in that, because it shows really, what do you want more of in your life? What do you want to draw in? What are you trying to release? And don't get hung up on the word just see what comes through. And you can listen to that episode. I won't dive deeper into that. But without further ado, let's talk about today's topic of what is displacement? Exactly. And why is it so important? We're talking about it? Well, it's important because displacement is a defence mechanism that involves an individual transferring neck quote, unquote, negative feelings or feelings. We don't want to have her feel from one person or thing to another. For example, a person who is angry at their boss may take out their anger on their family member by shouting at them. So let me give you a personal example and why I'm bringing this up because perhaps you are going through a transition you're in grief. Perhaps you are sad, or disgusted or angry about something or someone and instead of processing that through therapy journaling, or maybe just in the moment it comes up this is what happened to me It was Christmas Day. And we're opening presents. And I really try to be present and not put expectations on the holidays. So let go of outcomes, unattached to responses about gifts and just be in the moment. Well, I was tired. I was sleep deprived. I'm not gonna blame it on that. Let's just call it my inner child got activated. And I really got sad. I was sad. And then I was a little bit mad. And I kind of felt irritated. I was irritated. I was annoyed. And I decided to get up. And I started to get annoyed at one of my kids. I was like, I'm annoyed. I'm irritated. I don't want to be like this. It's Christmas day. But there was something deep getting rumbled and stirred up. So it's getting x at irritated at her. And that was a displacement of my grief. Even though it looked different. It didn't look like sadness. It looked like frustration, irritation, annoyance, and I knew that something was stirring up on me because I could feel it my nervous system, my body. So got up I went into the closet, and I was having a grief burst when I got quiet. I got centred and curious. What came up for me was grief as I lost my mom in October. And instead of taking it out on my family through irritation, annoyance, shortness snappiness, however you want to say it prickliness. I was like, Okay, I'm doing that. I need to be aware of that. What is going on? So I just went in the closet, I got on my knees. I literally got on my knees in my closet by myself and just put my hand over my heart centre and was like, What am I feeling and the sadness, just a flood, we call those grief bursts. Where you are. It's like a wave. I've talked about it so many times on the podcast, but it helps normalise, I had a grief burst, it was a wave of sadness. And I just started to sob. I mean, you know, that kind of sobbing. And clients call it the ugly cry. And I call it the beautiful process in a note doesn't feel like that. But you are releasing what needs to come forward and what's getting trapped in your nervous system. It's an expression of what lies within in now I can break the cycle of not displacing what I'm feeling onto anybody else. So I was just crying and I was sad. And my older daughter comes in and she puts her arm around me. And she says, Oh, Mom, it's okay to cry. Because I say that all the time. It's okay to let it out. It's okay to cry because the feelings are acceptable in our home, even if they're intense. Now, as long as we're not hurting anyone, but they are acceptable, you're allowed to have them, it's encouraged to express them and let them out. She put her arm around me. And the first thing I felt was, oh my gosh, I don't want her to feel like she has to caretake me I don't want her to feel like the parental FIDE child or my Psycho psycho psychology. Sometimes people call it psycho babbles coming through my head because I didn't want it to create what how I felt with my mom that I had to caretake her. And I said, Oh, honey, I'm going to be okay. I'm having a grief burst. And it's okay to let it out. And I'm. And I said, How are you feeling? Because it's important for her to express how she feels. She seen me cry. And she said, I feel sad to Mom, I miss her too. And in that moment, there was such a tender exchange. And it was pivotal for me. Because I was carrying the fear of the pattern that was established generationally between mothers and daughters, that the daughter had a kind of caretaker, the mother and I didn't want that to be the case for my kids. And it's been something I'm almost gotten the other way with. And

at that moment, this was important for her to see that it's okay for me to have feelings, which she does often but not I mean, this is what a real grief for her deep, deep. There's been several over the course of several months. And she said I'm so glad you're letting it out balm. You've always been the I'm trying to remember exactly what she said something like the strong one. And I had a moment of shame. Like, oh, she sees me as not strong. And then I took a deep breath. And I said yeah, it's okay for all of us to be human. It's we're not always going to be strong. The quote unquote strong I feel and I said this is kind of what strength looks like it Looks like vulnerability, and letting out these feelings, there was no way I could have stuffed it back down. I mean, there's one I knew better to have my body said no. And three, it was coming no matter what it was a wave, it was coming. And it was such a tender, sweet moment that I will cherish for ever the level of empathy she showed. And I was like, Oh, she's embodied empathy. Because we've allowed empathy in our home, we've allowed emotions in our homes, so she knows how to offer it. Because I have, I want to believe I haven't done this perfectly at all that we've offered empathy, when there has been pain in her life. And it was, it was a moment of where I didn't want to displace. What was really not. Yes, I can be annoyed at my kids. And that's okay. But what was really going on was deeper than that. It was a moment of reconciliation between, I remember my mom getting us gifts, and how she put time into that. And maybe we didn't like the gifts or it was too much gifts. And there's so much to it, that I had empathy for my mom going, Oh, this is what it feels like if you feel like the gifts aren't appreciated. And then I had to unattach from that. But it was begging me to process the sadness that I felt. What if displacement is inviting you into looking at what are you really feeling that you weren't allowed to feel as a child, that now you're putting on to your partner, maybe you're angry at your mother, for not hearing you maybe there was a lot of control in the family system, maybe there was detachment and distance and neglect. Maybe it was all about your mom, and you didn't get the opportunity to have your own voice and your feelings shared. Maybe you're angry at your father, maybe there was some addiction, workaholism absence, their emotional unavailability there that you weren't able to share with your dad, maybe there was anger issues with dad or mom, and just emotional unavailability and you weren't allowed to be angry at them, or, or really express how you some deep wounds or fears or sadness around this being disconnection disconnected from them, or them not hearing you, listening to you, and acknowledging your feelings, instead of making it all about them, or that just wasn't acceptable. And you're really angry and sad and grieving that but it gets put on, and displays to your children for not listening to you or your partner. And while yes, it's hurtful, it's not our kids job to offer us what our parents were really meant to offer us which is empathy, acknowledgement, emotional attunement, connection, safety and security for us to feel our feelings to express our thoughts to process. Real time, hurts, maybe there was a divorce or a death or a separation or a move, or a health issue. Or any kind of trauma, bullying, and we weren't, we weren't able to talk through that. Let the emotions out share, how will we we were feeling about ourselves a shame, maybe we were carrying the responsibility for things. And so we displace that onto somebody else. And this is the other thing I can do is like, I want my husband to be present. And yes, that is important in a marriage. And he's very good at that. And he's gonna have times where he's not present. This is just how it is. Same with me, I'm gonna have times where I'm not present. But what happens is, it's a re wounding from my childhood of having non presence, and my parents did the best they could and not blaming anybody. And they've helped me be who I am. So I wouldn't trade any of it. I really wouldn't. Because it's such a gift I've learned, oh, my wounds my pain point. Will if you will, my hurt is if I don't feel heard, understood, attuned, like paid attention to held space for then I feel unimportant. I feel disconnected. That is really how I felt in childhood. And sometimes I displace that on to my husband like do you care about me? And yes, he does. It's it's, it's really a displacement of some feelings I felt towards my parents. And that's okay. For me to feel that way. And recognise is this really about my husband? Or is this really about something else? Is this really about my irritation with my daughter, some of it It's not an all or nothing, there may be parts of it that really are geared towards that person. And then what percentage isn't geared towards that person what is displaced. So let's talk about an overview and dive in a little bit deeper into displacement. According to the APA displacement is the transfer of negative feelings from one person to another. The theory is that a person deals with the tension or anxiety associated with quote unquote negative feelings, such as fear or anger by releasing them on a non threatening target. For example, if a person expresses or experiences negative emotions due to the boss, their boss shouting at them, they make a home, we talked about this and then get upset with the their pet, or their kids or their partner. And the person might feel as though they cannot confront their boss for the fear of losing their job. That's not possible. As a result, they may take the anger out on someone who is less threatening or something. And that something may be a family member. As displacement is an unconscious defence mechanism, the person may not realise that they're doing it in this is my invitation. I want to bring what's unconscious to the conscious meaning I am more self aware. I'm attuned to my body sensations, I'm exploring what am I feeling? Where do I feel that my body I just did this the other week? In terms of just real time, like doing this exercise, I was actually yesterday, I was processing some deep inner work and was like, Okay, where do I feel that in my body, it was my stomach. And it was like, there's the fear of something bad happening. And exploring where are the roots of that. And just being with it, sitting with it, attuning to it, being curious about it, not trying to fix it, make it go away, just let it be. And let me connect to how old I felt. Because that's a familiar feeling from childhood. Take a deep breath. And then I did some journaling in this is the invitation so we don't displace feelings on to another person, quote unquote, negative emotions. I think all emotions are invitations for our evolution for our healing for our growth. So if you look at the history of displacement, Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neuro neurologist who develop psychoanalysis at the start of the 20th century. And according to the APA psychoanalysis is a set of theories about emotions and behaviours. And it is based on the idea that mental processes are unconscious. The APA says that the term unconscious refers to the process of the mind of which a person isn't aware, for a discusses different defence mechanisms throughout his work. These unconscious psychological processes serve to protect a person from the unwanted feelings or what feels like unacceptable thoughts. And so here's what basically displacement is a defence mechanism, like I spoke about earlier. And it's not necessarily bad, because trauma is always trying to protect us. What we want to do is really sit with what is the impact? If I displace this onto my partner? Then what is the consequence for our relationship, if it's done repeatedly, there's going to be a fracture in the relationship. So displacement may allow a person to express themselves and to relieve stress, even if they are directing it towards the wrong target. So however, this mechanism allows a person to process stress and anxiety in ways that are less threatening and more socially acceptable than confronting the issue head on. So like, I can't shout at my boss.

But it can be part of a damaging and unhealthy cycle. So taking that out, at home by being angry with your child, yeah, you're releasing the emotions but you're really not processed, you're really not processing, the impact, the body sensations, the emotions, the inner child work, and you're really setting yourself up for being stuck. And you end up with relationship troubles, probably headed towards some addictive behaviours because you're not really feeling and dealing and scapegoating people. So what does that mean? It's really means that a person might have a difficult time with a messy home, so they might blame their partner or housemate for the mess, even if it resulted from someone or something else, like instead of going directly to the source, they're going to blame it on somebody else, because it's too scary to go directly to the source and say how you feel. And at this point in time, as an adult, it's up to us to stop the cycle. Here's some things that I'm going to suggest because one we have to recognise when you're displacing using this displacing your negative emotions, quote, unquote, onto somebody else, you have to recognise your defence mechanisms. There's many to choose from, and I'm gonna be doing a series on defence mechanisms, because these are so deeply ingrained in trying to protect us and they're not wrong or bad. They're maladaptive. So what once was adaptive in childhood, is now maladaptive as an adult. So here are some suggestions. First of all, journal, okay. It's important that you're looking at what are you feeling, getting some perspective around it, writing out everything you want to get out, even if it's negative into the paper, if you want to shred it later, because people are afraid that, you know, their journals are going to be found that's fine. But you got to get it out. You've got to process the anger you feel towards your boss, the anger you feel toward your partner, get it out first on paper, like don't be texting, like that's, if you want to. If you have a knee jerk reaction, chances are you're going to be displacing some form of your anger onto somebody else. Take a pause, breathe, centre yourself, write it out to get it out, get centred. Get clear before sending a text before writing a nasty gramme before picking up that phone and leaving a message before texting something you're going to regret. Doing some mindfulness practices such as yoga, to connect to your feelings, breath, body sensations, meditation is great movement of some kind, whether you're walking, pilates, jogging, whatever that riding the bike, whatever that looks like for you to not have a knee jerk reaction. And the breath is one of the most important pieces of not displacing your feelings on to other people. And then you've got to do childhood work. It's important, I'm going to talk about a genogram, which we use in family therapy, where we map out family patterns. I'm going to be talking about that in upcoming episodes, doing the work of inner child work, looking at your family systems and patterns. And what didn't you get to express as a child, maybe you didn't get to express sadness, anger, disgust, grief, loss, maybe a difference of opinions, maybe transitions, whatever those milestone events are, maybe it was trauma and abuse, getting the opportunity to attend to it, to name it to express it is so important and to have an empathic witness, such as a therapist, a support group, a supportive system, there is no price they can put on it. It's one of the most healing things you can do for yourself. And if you're really upset about something, chances are there's some level of displacement going on. You're getting activated from something in the past, not in the present. Not always I don't want to make it an all or nothing. But I invite you to explore what is it in your past that you felt was unjust, not fair. Where you didn't feel seen, heard, understood, important that you mattered. And if you have that wound, chances are you're going to displace the onto your romantic partner, a friend or your children because you're going to feel like they are doing the same thing and without consciously knowing it. You don't want to displace your childhood pain or your trauma or your wounds triggers on to your children. There's a difference between projecting and displacement. Displacement is your own negative quote unquote negative emotions that you don't want to feel any You're, and you don't want to confront. So you're putting those on, you're taking it out on other people, basically, you're taking it out on other people. That's the best way to frame displacement, where you're taking out what really has nothing to do with them, but you're taking it out on them. And this happens a lot in romantic relationships. You're taking out your bad day on your partner, you're taking out your stress and overwhelm on your children, you're taking out you got kind of got. So you got screamed at at work, and now you're taking it out on your, your pets and your family. That's displacement, taking it out on other people or things, and projection. And there's a whole nother episode, if you want to go back to other episodes of the podcast. Projection is where you think that other person feels the way you think that they should feel. And so you project that they feel that way onto them, or they think that way. So for example, I might project that my daughter is really sad when she has to switch classes that semester, because she was really close to her friends in this classes. And I might project that, because that's how I would feel rather than checking in with her and saying, Hey, how do you feel about changing classes? And she says, Oh, I feel excited, I'm ready for a kind of a change. I could have said, Oh, I bet you're really upset that you're going to switch classes because you miss all your friends. I'm projecting that that's how she's feeling rather than checking in with her to ask her how do you feel. So that's the distinction. And I invite you into listening to the projection episode, we'll link that down in the show notes. And then distinguishing between displacement, taking it out on somebody and projection. Because I think those are really important distinctions. And my words of encouragement are, the more aware that you can be about yourself and your triggers, the better. I think it's important for us to highlight some other defence mechanisms beyond projection, just to have a high level example of some additional ways that people defend against emotions and pain. So avoidance is another one which is dismissing uncomfortable thoughts or feelings by staying away from people, places or situations, you know, that you don't want to face so someone that was in a traumatic car accident might avoid driving. Or that that's another defence mechanism denial continuing to engage in behaviours that may be damaging while dismissing real life consequences of the situation. So someone continues to shop for expensive designer clothes despite being in serious financial debt. Humour is another defence read, which is reducing resisting or hiding negative emotions that may result from the situation by joking about it sarcasm is another example of that. So a person tells a funny story about someone during a funeral, which sometimes that's appropriate. I want to say that sometimes that is funny and people love sharing stories, but we're looking at am I deflecting from not feeling by doing that and this happens a lot in family systems we don't really want to feel so we're gonna deflect and rationalisation is justifying one's behaviour by attempting to provide a rational explanation. And so it's making excuses. It's trying to minimise what's really going on. Regression can be a sign of a defensive response to returning to behaviours from an earlier stage of life. So for example, a child begins wetting the bed after a traumatic incident, even though they've already grown out of this behaviour. And one of the most important pieces of displacement is

noticing it. The second thing is facing it and looking at what pain might have gotten repressed surpressed pushed down unconsciously, or maybe even consciously and your willingness to face it, name it, process it attuned to it, and nurture it so next time you start getting angry at somebody else, take a deep breath. See how much of it is a displacement on to maybe a situation that happened earlier that has nothing to do with them are just notice what really might you be feeling? Look for shame of not feeling good enough. See if that needs to be attended to take several beats. Deep breaths and be kind and nurturing to yourself. I'm here supporting you walking you along the journey towards healing, growth, expansion of self, spirit, mind body emotions. And I'm so proud of you for sticking with this episode, doing some self exploration and realising that you can make a difference by facing all of our emotions instead of moving away from them. I'll see you next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai