Denial comes in different guises. Usually when we say someone is in denial we think of it in negative terms. There is a person who won’t accept the truth, we think. There is a person who can’t cope.
You might not want to face the truth about all kinds of things: illness; ageing, addiction, relationships. Some people use denial as a means of self defence. They think by ignoring the facts that everything will somehow improve.
I have experience of it. I suppose most of us have at one time or another. But pushing aside problems only has the effect of allowing them to accumulate. Like cancer, they grow. They multiply. They keep on multiplying until your whole system is toxic.
When you know you have a medical problem you do something about it, don’t you? You go and get it fixed. But anything to do with emotions/feelings/fears/anxieties etc etc. we tend to shy away from. In a previous post I wrote about Brené Brown’s ideas on vulnerability. She’s all for coming out with your vulnerabilities and giving them voice. It’s the most courageous thing you can do.
But there are people who not only deny their own feelings: they deny yours too. When you’ve had the courage to make yourself vulnerable and express how someone’s actions make you feel they should acknowledge what you’ve said. If they refuse, they have a problem. They are in denial. And if you allow it to continue you’re the one who’s going to end up with a bigger problem than you had to begin with.
Yet there is a positive aspect to denial. Consider the following:
Matthew 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.”
Self denial is another matter altogether. Abandonment of the needs of self and taking up your share of the suffering of humanity (your cross) is key to being a good human.
All well and good if you’re dealing with other ‘good’ human beings. There comes a point, it seems to me, when you can’t continue giving to others if they are in such a state of denial they prefer to continue hiding behind a false front. Surely that would be time for some tough love. Standing back and allowing someone to experience the error of their thinking might be the lesson they need. Obviously you wouldn’t do that with a child who wants to play with matches but when an adult is making the choice to live in denial all you can do is let them get on with it and remove yourself.
Well, Amen to that.
Anybody like to add their comments? Don’t be shy. You can reach me on my Facebook Celia Micklefield author page and on Twitter @cmicklefield
Thank you for visiting.