This week I have been observing how much staying in denial can be harmful to the person who insists to stay in denial and everyone around them.
I have had the opportunity to see this in people who have an addiction to a substance or a behavior. There is a minimization of their attachment to the substance or the action. There is a minimization of the effect of their addiction on people around them. Usually, they bargain about ways they can control their behavior and stay in denial that they can’t, then justify their behavior with some manipulative tactics.
I had the opportunity to observe the denial of a woman who despite being very unhappy in her marriage, holds on to the fantasy of the beginning time of their relationship and hoping that their honeymoon stage will come back while she cries every day for how her husband is treating her.
And watching the news media to see a major denial of the election process.
What is the reason for staying in denial while the reality is staring us in the face? When reality is too hard to handle we keep staying in denial. When we have to let go of something that was important to us and the present nor the future appear to be better than what we had, we choose the delusion of denial. When we bargain in our own mind and with others just to keep what we hoped instead of what is, we end up in denial.
Unfortunately, no matter how long we stay in denial, no matter how much we hope that reality was something else, no matter how much we bargain for something that does not exist, the reality stays as-is. We only delay the process but don’t change the reality. It is a much quicker path to accept the reality as is, go through the grief that is awaiting us, and create a goal and an action plan that moves us toward a reality that we envision. The coping mechanism of denial is set up for us not to face the pain, however, subconsciously we are suffering since we have to deal with the reality on a daily basis. So the resistance creates more harm and wasted energy.
Facing reality might be painful, however, the faster we face what is real in our lives, the faster we go through the grief, the pain, and become more resilient. However, staying in denial only prolongs the pain. We just learn how to justify the pain in the hope of the fantasy that we hoped to be there. For an addict, the destruction just continues in the hope of 1 minute of feeling bliss, which does not occur after a while at all, while the only thing that remains are the consequences. For the unhealthy marriage, the unhappiness continues with pain for the couple and their children with no sign of the honeymoon stage ever coming back. For the election process, losing respect for the institution, the society, and the sense of community with the feeling of sorrow, sadness, and fear.
It is much wiser to face the reality. If you don’t know how then get help and create the courage and the skills to face all that the reality is requiring you to deal with. You can learn the distinctions and skills that would support you to deal with reality with ease and grace in my book “Life Reset – The Awareness Integration Path to Creating the Life You Want”.