DENIAL IS THE BIGGEST DENIAL is the topic that I am not denying but writing on today. I am not sitting in judgment as I am in the audience too. Too many times do I see something I should change a method, a habit, an attitude, and/or an action or all of the above. My famous line of denial is almost ludicrous by saying “I am going to change this tomorrow.” You might think this statement is procrastination and not denial but while I am saying it, it is my method of thinking this is not that important to change today. What if tomorrow never comes? Now, that I have entered my denial twilight zone, I will face reality along with all of you but at least we are beginning to realize the reality and not deny the “denies” as I will call this collection.
What are the typical DENIES:
- I need to lose weight.
- I should eat healthier.
- I should exercise more or any.
- I should study and learn new things.
- I should exercise my faith in more obvious ways.
- I should listen more and talk less.
- I should be open to listening to others.
And on and on it goes! I found an article and am sharing an excerpt containing 5 behaviors and it begins to come into focus when we are in denial. Some years back, I shared an article about the health hazards of drinking a certain brand of a popular drink (pop or soda). I received so many statements of denial, I hushed about it and thought, “Go ahead, I tried to warn you.” Yesterday, another popular drink appeared about how it caused extreme headaches and possible blindness. Again, more denial from the ones who drink that brand. What I found profound is that the one that was denying the latest one was the same one who said the other drink was unhealthy. Now, I could sound heartless and judgmental, but it took me years to really understand my diabetes and not to deny the health risks so throw me in the mixture but in this article below, you will see 99% of us are in denial about something.
The more important questions, which Dr. Alasko answers, are How and Why denial exists.
After all, we humans are gifted with a powerful brain; along with a remarkable ability to analyze information. Certainly, we could comprehend basic facts, right?
Apparently, it’s not that easy. Here’s why:
- “It’s an oversimplification to believe something is either true or false,” says. Dr. Alasko. Our ability to produce complex emotions can interfere with something basic as seeing the truth.
- “Ideology, inertia, momentum, impulsiveness, and stubbornness (can) easily relegate facts to a far corner.” Dr. Alasko uses how we spend money as an example of these emotions.
- Reality is often interpreted as constricting.
- Sometimes the truth is too painful to admit – an unfortunate psychological event that is often the consequence of trauma.
In wrapping up his response, Dr. Alasko makes a powerful statement:
“There is an immutable fact about denial: it does not work – long term. Reality always wins.” [emphasis mine]
‘Cognitive Dissonance’…99 percent of us do it
Denial, especially that which results from cognitive dissonance, often appears as anxiety. Anger is another way that people cope with stress. This behavior could manifest as emotional outbursts, snapping at someone, or displaying unusually volatile mood swings.
All of these behaviors are the result of your subconscious mind’s attempt to bring the problem to the surface. The issue, of course, is that the parts of the mind are resisting such efforts.
2. MAKING EXCUSES
Denial and excuse-making are two peas in a pod. When you routinely hear someone say “I didn’t, because …” “Here’s what happened…” “Sorry I’m irresponsib- LATE!” there’s a problem.
Okay, so the third is a bit of a stretch. But you get the idea.
We’ve all had a tough stretch, and we’ve all made dumb mistakes. We’ve all made excuses for both. The problem is when a person remains in denial about their poor decisions and “solves” them by making excuses. Spoiler: it doesn’t work.
3. PLAYING THE VICTIM (SOMETIMES)
Why ‘sometimes?’ Unfortunately, as we’ve discussed, some people in denial have been victimized; a fact that continues to wear on their psyche. In turn, the conscious and subconscious are engaged in a seemingly unending battle.
Here’s a sentence dedicated to people out there facing such difficult circumstances – we dearly that hope you find peace and acceptance.
Playing the victim most strongly correlates with cognitive dissonance. A person is aware of an uncomfortable truth; yet, childishly acts as if they have no control. This is playing victim – something that’s irresponsible and self-defeating.
Regret sucks – that’s the lesson here. Here’s why regret sucks:
– regret is useless (thanks, Marlon Brando!)
– regret is pointless
– regret is self-defeating
– regret can rob you of a better future
– regret does rob you of the present
Related Article: 10 Regrets You Don’t Want In 10 Years
In short, regret can weigh heavily on a person’s heart and mind. Saying “I wish I would’ve done this…” solves nothing. The person must learn acceptance, or they’ll be dealing with regret – and its consequences – for a while.
5. LOW SELF-CONFIDENCE
No matter the extent to which denial becomes part of our behavior, self-image is inevitably affected. It’s affected because we’re intelligent!
The mind and brain recognize the pattern of denial; it innately knows that we’re engaging in the act of self-deception.
Our mind will only regain equilibrium once we see denial for what it truly is:
This is an excerpt from this article but I strongly advise anyone who wants to know more about the whys and not the “denies” to read the full article at Powers of Positivity by clicking on the title link above.
What can we do when DENIAL IS THE BIGGEST DENIAL? Another informative article is a wonderful resource.
Denial is a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to distressing situations — but staying in denial can interfere with treatment or your ability to tackle challenges.
If you’re in denial, you’re trying to protect yourself by refusing to accept the truth about something that’s happening in your life.
In some cases, initial short-term denial can be a good thing, giving you time to adjust to a painful or stressful issue. It might also be a precursor to making some sort of change in your life. But denial has a dark side. Find out when denial is unhealthy and how to move past it.
Understanding denial and its purpose
Refusing to acknowledge that something is wrong is a way of coping with emotional conflict, stress, painful thoughts, threatening information and anxiety. You can be in denial about anything that makes you feel vulnerable or threatens your sense of control, such as an illness, addiction, eating disorder, personal violence, financial problems or relationship conflicts. You can be in denial about something happening to you or to someone else.
When you’re in denial, you:
- Won’t acknowledge a difficult situation
- Try not to face the facts of a problem
- Downplay possible consequences of the issue
When denial can be helpful
Refusing to face facts might seem unhealthy. Sometimes, though, a short period of denial can be helpful. Being in denial gives your mind the opportunity to unconsciously absorb shocking or distressing information at a pace that won’t send you into a psychological tailspin.
For example, after a traumatic event, you might need several days or weeks to process what’s happened and come to grips with the challenges ahead. Imagine what might happen if you find a lump in your throat. You might feel a rush of fear and adrenaline as you imagine it’s cancer.
So you ignore the lump, hoping it’ll go away on its own. But when the lump is still there a week later, you consult your doctor.
This type of denial is a helpful response to stressful information. You initially denied the distressing problem. But as your mind absorbed the possibility, you began to approach the problem more rationally and took action by seeking help.
When denial can be harmful
But what if you had continued to be in denial about the lump? What if you never sought help? If denial persists and prevents you from taking appropriate action, such as consulting your doctor, it’s a harmful response.
Consider these examples of unhealthy denial:
- A college student witnesses a violent shooting but claims not to be affected by it.
- The partner of an older man in the end stage of life refuses to discuss health care directives and wills with him, insisting that he’s getting better.
- Someone periodically misses morning work meetings after drinking excessively the night before, but insists there’s no problem because the work is still getting done.
- A couple are ringing up so much credit card debt that they toss the bills aside because they can’t bear to open them.
- The parents of a teen with drug addiction keep giving their child “clothing” money.
- A person with chest pain and shortness of breath doesn’t believe those symptoms signal a heart attack and delays getting help.
In situations such as these, denial might prevent you or your loved one from getting help, such as medical treatment or counseling, or dealing with problems that can spiral out of control — all with potentially devastating long-term consequences.
Moving past denial
When faced with an overwhelming turn of events, it’s OK to say, “I just can’t think about all of this right now.” You might need time to work through what’s happened and adapt to new circumstances. But it’s important to realize that denial should only be a temporary measure — it won’t change the reality of the situation.
It isn’t always easy to tell if denial is holding you back. The strength of denial can change over time, especially for someone with chronic illness — some periods are linked to less defensiveness, and at other times denial may be much stronger. If you feel stuck or if someone you trust suggests that you’re in denial, however, you might try these strategies:
- Honestly examine what you fear.
- Think about the potential negative consequences of not taking action.
- Allow yourself to express your fears and emotions.
- Try to identify irrational beliefs about your situation.
- Journal about your experience.
- Open up to a trusted friend or loved one.
- Participate in a support group.
If you can’t make progress dealing with a stressful situation on your own — you’re stuck in the denial phase — consider talking to a mental health provider. He or she can help you find healthy ways to cope with the situation rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.
When a loved one needs help moving beyond denial
You might find it frustrating when someone you love is in denial about an important issue. But before demanding that your loved one face the facts, take a step back. Try to determine if he or she just needs a little time to work through the issue.
At the same time, let the person know that you’re open to talking about the subject, even if it makes both of you uncomfortable. Ultimately, this might give your loved one the security he or she needs to move forward. Your loved one may even be relieved when you bring the issue up.
If your loved one is in denial about a serious health issue, such as depression, cancer or an addiction, broaching the issue might be especially difficult. Listen and offer your support. Don’t try to force someone to seek treatment, which could lead to angry confrontations. Offer to meet together with a doctor or mental health provider.
Denial is worse than not knowing but it is a catch 22. When we don’t know, we can always use the excuse, “Well, I didn’t know.” With denial, it is more “I know, but I don’t want to recognize what I need to do about it.” What I want to conclude with is since I found out I have diabetes type 2 I have been able to maintain it on a semi normal level. What do I mean semi normal level? That is because even though I am not in full denial, I want to think it is not as bad as it is giving me a false permission to occasionally eat something I shouldn’t have. All I have done is move up the ladder from denial to subconsciously denying the denial. We don’t have to admit our denials to anyone but ourselves and be upfront. I am sharing this so that others recognize we are human with our weaknesses and how we choose to deal with our weaknesses determines our outcome in life.
Live Life; Love Life; and Live Life to the Fullest by acknowledgment of our strengths and determination to lessen our weaknesses by drinking a full dose of reality. I always say It Is What It Is. Or do I? Something to think about today…………..Arline Miller, blogger and author.
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