“Denial – a defense mechanism in which a person is faced with a fact that is too painful to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence. The subject may deny the reality of the unpleasant fact altogether (simple denial), admit the fact but deny its seriousness (minimization) or admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility (transference).”
I’ve had many a stunning – and seemingly unfortunate – awareness over the years – or even in the last few weeks – of how I’ve been swimming pretty deeply in the river of denial. Like everyone else I know that has such revelations, I found myself wanting to find some sort of Spiritual meaning in it. Now, you might ask yourself, “What could possibly be Spiritual about denial?” Of course, if you ARE asking yourself that, the the problem built into the question itself is that, if you knew the answer, you couldn’t be in denial anymore, right? This is all no fun for the parts of our mind that regularly like to redeem frequent flyer miles from the Frequent Denial Program. However, in life and in relationships, that shouldn’t keep you from looking at it.
One of the key things you and I have been in denial about at one time or another is how things are going in your relationship…not so much with your romantic partner (though that’s fertile ground for massive amounts of denial), but the most important relationship in your life…the one with yourself. One of the reasons your mind likes you being in denial about THAT relationship is because it allows you to maintain an illusion that your ego’s very fond of: that there’s some place you’re going to arrive at (if you work hard enough at it) that will be that magical place where everything’s been healed, you’ve got everything figured out, your plans will now be guaranteed to come out just the way you want them to, and you now have a life ahead of you of unfettered joy and coasting.
Your ego doesn’t want you facing the possibility that what you may be going through in the way of challenges in your life is a recurrence of some pattern, some belief that you thought you’d gotten handled over the course of your 120 years of therapy you feel like you’ve done, and the 4,000 self-help books you’ve devoured in the endless pursuit of trying to fix and heal yourself. The way to confirm this is to watch how often you say in your mind, “But, I’ve done SO much work on that” when you once again repeat a behavior pattern that’s plagued you for years.
Another way to gauge how much denial may be in the driver’s seat in your life is to see if you can track how hard you’re working to keep yourself distracted from your feelings and/or those of your Partner….and when you can’t distract yourself any longer, you’re often feeling resentment about how others are treating you, rather than take a realistic look at how you’re treating yourself.
If this is all hitting home for you in some way, then you may want to look at the great blessing, that’s bigger than you could imagine, of popping the denial bubbles. As painful as it can be to come out of denial about anything, if you have the courage to go the distance with it, you have virtually unlimited potential for freedom and growth in every part of your life.
When it comes to relationship, if you can develop the habit of seeing EVERYTHING as it ACTUALLY is, with an open heart, then anything’s possible and anything can be shifted.
If you add to that the skill of taking 100% responsibility for everything that’s happening in your life (“Now, THAT one’s REALLY irritating” your ego is probably saying right now), you can bring so much more of yourself, your compassion, and your love to every relationship and begin healing the one with yourself more easily. It’s hard to do that when you’re constantly looking at a Hall of Mirrors in between your ears.
In case you want to take this on as a practice for yourself, here’s a few common ways of interacting with life that indicate you may be in some pretty hefty denial:
- “It’s all up to me”
- “I HAVE to have the answers”
- “I’ll be a bad partner if I can’t figure it out by myself”
- “I’ve got it all under control”
- “Whatever’s going on, I can fix it, and don’t need to really let anyone know”
Whenever you’re catching yourself in any of those kinds of thoughts, and want to start enacting a “Get Real” approach that allows you to get realigned with the flow that your Spirit has in mind for you, try doing something as simple as noticing how long it’s been since you told your partner how much you love them and why; hug your children (because you really want to, rather than because you should); or let yourself consciously get moved to tears by someone else’s good fortune and love…and then, cry at your own good fortune to be loved by someone.
Doing any of those types of things that you’ve had in the deep freeze for awhile, and you will find yourself no longer going down the river of De-Nile without a paddle.