“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 (minimisation) or admit both the fact and seriousness but deny responsibility (transference).”
I recently had a stunning, and seemingly unfortunate, awareness that I have been swimming pretty deeply in the river of denial for awhile. Like everyone else I know that has such revelations, I found myself wanting to find some spiritual meaning in it. Now, you may be asking yourself, “What could possibly be Spiritual about denial”? Of course, the problem with that question is that, if you knew the answer, you would no longer be in denial, right? This is no fun for the parts of our mind and ego that regularly like to purchase and redeem frequent flyer miles in the Denial Club. But, that shouldn’t stop you from looking.
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…particularly in that most important relationship you have…the one with yourself. One of the reasons your mind WANTS you to be in denial is so that you can maintain an illusion that can cripple your relationship and your growth…the illusion is that there’s some place you’re going to arrive at that, once you get there, ensures that you’ve: gotten everything healed, have everything figured out, and have a life ahead of you of unfettered joy and coasting. This can frequently show up in how you relate to yourself and your partner if you’re not staying “awake.”
In particular, if you’re struggling with some issue, some way of feeling about yourself and /or your life, odds are pretty high that it’s tough to get what’s really going on. Why? Your ego doesn’t want you facing the possibility that what you’re going through is a recurrence of some pattern, some belief…some habitual way of behaving…that you thought you’d handled over the course of the 120 years of therapy you feel like you’ve done and 4,000 self-help books you’ve devoured to try to heal yourself. You know you’re there when you see yourself doing the same damn thing you thought you were never going to do, a friend suggests that you’ve gone back to a familiar behavior they’ve watched you do for years, and your mind is saying, “But, I’ve done SO much work on that!”
Is this ringing a bell for you to any degree? Not sure?
Take a look inside and see if you can track how hard you work to keep yourself distracted from your feelings and/or those of your partner. Have you found yourself in an argument with someone you love, they get “heated,” and you get beyond frustrated, angry, and/or immobilized with their energy? Odds are that you’re bumping into that there “Issue” that you were convinced you’d handled for good. When a loved one unwittingly shows you that that is indeed a denial-laden assumption, you subconsciously (and even consciously, sometimes) get a feeling of resentment and shame overtaking you. If you don’t know how to hold it, or even understand what the hell’s going on, you’re more likely than not going to blast the other person to keep yourself away from facing what’s yours to face and heal (AGAIN, dammit!!)
If it’s all starting to ring a bell for you now, then you are receiving a blessing that’s far bigger than you might imagine. “Excuse ME,” you may be thinking…”Blessing my behind!” Well, the blessing is that, as initially painful as it can be to come out of denial, 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 your relationship, if you can develop the habit of seeing EVERYTHING as it factually is, with an open heart, then anything’s possible. 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 may be saying right about now), then you can bring so much more of yourself, your compassion, and your love to every relationship you have…and can begin healing the one with yourself more easily.
What are some of the symptoms of Denial-itis? Here are a few of my particular brands of denial fodder, in case they help you acknowledge and “catch” some of yours:
- It’s all up to me.
- I have to have the answers, the brilliance, and the clarity of all that needs to be done to reach my goals and vision.
- I’m not being a good provider or partner if I don’t figure it all out for myself
- I CANNOT, under any circumstance, feel out of control…so, I’ll figure it all out, figure out the solution, and then get it all fixed for all parties involved.
- WHATEVER’S going on, I can fix it myself.
Whenever you find yourself having thoughts like that, and want to do a reality check to get yourself back on the path of truly following the flow your Spirit has in mind for you (and at the same time, reclaim your precious human fallibility with a modicum of grace), do something as simple as noticing how long it’s been since you told your partner you loved them, hugged your children (just because you really want to), or have been moved to tears by someone else’s good fortune and love. Do any of those that have been in the deep freeze, and you will find yourself no longer going down the river of De-nile without a paddle.
If you’re wanting to take your relationship to a level that’s far from common, use every time of feeling at odds with your partner to see what happens if you use it as an opportunity to discover what pocket of love is available to be re-claimed and re-felt by you accepting that you may NEVER have it all healed or ever “Be Done.” From there, you’re more likely to be able to hear yourself, and your partner (and kids, for that matter) differently. From there, you have the real potential to transcend the usual pettiness that lies at the heart of a lot of squabbles, and use the conflict to bring you closer to each other. Is it easy? Not often. Does that mean you shouldn’t go for it? Absolutely not…if what you are really committed to is loving connection and intimacy.
I would really love to hear what you think and feel about this topic. If you would be willing to share, and would want it to be anonymous, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re willing to have your experiences be of more immediate use and support for others trying to figure all this stuff out too, I invite you to post a comment or a note, to my Living Your Spirit Now Facebook Fan Page