People’s personality styles are actually defenses. Characteristic mannerisms serve to keep people from feeling deeper feelings and accepting deeper truths. In therapy, the ways individuals express themselves reveal at least as much as what they say. This includes what their eyes express. Valuable truths are expressed in personality styles. These include the sorts of little behaviors that people say are “just me.” Or “That’s how I am.”
Some people are content with their idiosyncrasies, but others are bothered by their ways of being: “Why do I always DO that?!” Underneath persistent emotional symptoms are defenses that block change. Mannerisms can be the most stubborn. Deep down, mannerisms are defenses against being hurt. Easy to say, but getting from one’s surface down to one’s emotional underpinnings takes work. It’s an adventure in self-perception. Because defenses are powerful and limit our lives, a person needs a skilled observer as a guide. That’s character analysis.
Benefits of Self-knowledge
Character analysis lets people discover what their defensive mannerisms are defending against. It lets people integrate their positive emotions and get free of destructive ones. People can acclimate to their inner lives. They can gain control of their defenses. They make better contact with other people, feel more, experience love more deeply, and become more effective in work. People say things like, “I never knew life could be so rewarding.”
Examples of Mannerisms
Examples of defensive mannerisms include appearing above-it-all, brainy, tight-lipped, stiff-necked, or being sneaky, a good little girl, paranoid, hyper, a soldier, a critic, or a servant. Shallow breathing, tight jaws, and immobile chests are defensive. So are eyes that reach out, withdraw inside, or are dull, pained, shifty, mean, or other-worldly. Defensive mannerisms stifle a person’s aliveness and get in the way of satisfying relationships, health, and work.