Everybody deals with denial in their lives at one point or another. We deal with our own denial and the denial of others.
Denial is when we refuse to believe a reality or fact and we continue to exist as if this reality did or does not exist.
It happens to each and every one of us, to our loved ones, our coworkers and our acquaintances. We can get hooked into the denial of others and we, in turn, may also get others caught up in our own denial.
Let’s dive a little deeper into denial and talk about what it is, why we do it and how to untangle ourselves from it.
What is denial?
Denial is a defense mechanism developed unconsciously during a person’s early life to help protect themselves.
Defense mechanisms tend to kick in when a person does not want to experience more emotional stress or trauma because they feel that if they do, they would get pushed over the edge.
Often, it’s completely possible we don’t even know that we’re in denial.
Denial is considered a primitive defense mechanism, and the more someone defaults to denial, the more harmful living this behavior may become.
Choosing to stay in denial is choosing to stay in limbo. There is no forward motion. We do not grow or progress emotionally, psychologically or spiritually.
Although denial may offer the illusion of happiness on the surface, it doesn’t offer true happiness. While denial may help us avoid some pain, it also prevents us from experiencing deep pleasure.
Living your truth
Denial is simply refusing to face the truth. The opposite of denial is knowing your power and your truth — and living in it.
When we’re not living authentically, it’s often because we’re afraid of change.
When you are living powerfully in your truth, you will naturally feel drawn to making changes in your life. Sometimes this change might be difficult, and other times it might come more easily. But changes will happen.
Denial offers us the illusion of safety from change — even if that change is positive change.
Another reason we may choose to remain in denial is because we’re protecting someone else. Maybe we want to let someone else believe things are a certain way because that seems to make them happy.
So we choose not to confront it or ‘rock the boat’ so to speak.
Another reason that we may avoid confronting the truth is that we want to show up a certain way in the world, and we want the world to see us through a certain light. At the core of this, we are afraid of being judged.
In an effort to avoid judgment, we may want to cover up or hide ourselves so that others don’t see it.
Childhood judgement and trauma often breed a lot of denial in adulthood. We may end up completely bifurcating from certain parts of ourselves (including our true feelings) just to put a good face forward.
If you have ever experienced this in your life (or you’re currently experiencing it), it’s important to remember that you’re safe in your body and you’re safe in your life.
It’s time to start looking at what your truth is.
Even if you’re not ready to communicate your truth to the outer world, you may want to start working with it on your own.
One way to do this is to start journaling about it or looking within and asking yourself, “What is true for me?” Or, “What is feeling unsafe?”
If it is someone who you love who’s in denial, you may want to start the conversation. You may need to be the catalyst to help your loved ones move forward — which will, in turn, help you move forward.
Because if someone you love is in deep denial, it’s affecting your life as well. Start gently and with compassion. It’s important that we keep trying to initiate conversation.
So, how do we deal with denial in a relationship? Or even better, how is dealing with denial in any area of life helpful?
We need to continually remind ourselves that it’s not healthy to be stuck, and while change may prove to be difficult for a lot of us, it always leads to something better.
Approach your loved one and offer your truth, “Hey, I’m seeing this…” and ask if they see that too. You may want to suggest the cause of their denial.
- Maybe they’re afraid of change
- Maybe they’re trying to protect someone
- Maybe they want to show up in a certain way
Just share your truth from a place of love. People don’t always share a lot right away, but you may open the door to a different frequency when you share your vantage point.
Protecting your frequency
There is a frequency of denial on this planet, so there are a lot of people gravitating toward denial.
And you’ll find that some of these people find each other and they have an unspoken agreement:
You don’t touch my denial, and I don’t touch your denial.
We all show up the way that we want to show up in the world. But you may want to watch out for this because I always say, “frequency is contagious.”
When you’re hanging around a lot of denial, you’re going to start to absorb a lot of that energy, and you might find yourself in denial to fit in with that energy system.
So the best and healthiest way to avoid denial and start to move forward into greater truth is to be around people where truth is safe, where truth telling is normalized.
Even if your truth goes against what my truth says, I’m still totally open to hear it. I’m not going to judge you for it.
The more that you’re around that frequency, the more you’ll start discovering and sharing more yourself.
Look around your life this week, see where you might be in denial and where people in your life might be in denial. Then really start to think about having a powerful conversation with yourself or someone else.
Ask yourself, “What are the reasons why it feels so hard for me to be in my truth?” Or, “Where am I not noticing my truth in my life?”
We can change our perception of denial if we consider it simply a part of a process.
Processes are meant to have a beginning, a middle and end. The goal is to start the process, work through it and aim to reach the end of denial and the illumination of your truth.