How Does Denial Serve You?
What is Denial
Denial is claiming that a statement, allegation or situation is not true. People use denial as a defense mechanism. It shows up when person is faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable or painful to accept. To ease their own discomfort around the situation, they, instead, choose to reject the truth despite evidence or the ability to seek out evidence that gives a contradiction. Oftentimes the acts of denial can be more devastating than the transgression.
How Does Denial Present
Denial presents as blocking out, turning a blind eye, shutting off, not wanting to know, wearing blinders, and seeing what we want to see are all forms of denial. We also see denial in the alcoholic/addict who refuses to see their own condition, people who brush asides suspicions of infidelity, the wife that won’t acknowledge that her husband is abusing their daughter, and friends who refuse to admit that something awful has happened.
Why People Use Denial
- Self-Protection- People want to protect themselves from uncomfortable emotions. Emotions can be a source of information, but these emotions are so uncomfortable that denial is used to self-protect.
Types of Denial
- Denial of facts- With this type of denial people use lies to avoid facts or refuse to admit that an inappropriate event occurred. They have deemed the event as too painful to themselves or another person, so they may say something like “it never happened” or “that allegation is untrue”.
- Denial of responsibility- This involves avoiding personal accountability by blaming, minimizing, and justifying. For example: A driver who hits and injures another person might deny the impact of the accident or a parent who has gone absent from his child’s life may deny the affects his absence has caused.
- Denial of impact- This involves the perpetrator denying that he has caused any harm. He will likely say “its no big deal” or “you are exaggerating”.
- Denial of cycle- In this type of denial the person avoids looking at their decision(s) that lead to the harmful behavior. Because of this, it is likely the harmful behavior will be repeated.
- Denial of awareness- The person using this type of denial claims there was something in their way of seeing the pain they were causing. Addicts often use this type of denial.
- Denial of denial- This is one of the hardest types of denial to overcome because it requires a deep internal dive. One must look at their own thoughts, action and behaviors that tell them that nothing needs to be changed.
These stages are not all inclusive, a person can be in more then one stage at once.
I’ve used denial (yes, we are all human) and been on the receiving end of denial; you know the side where we scream and wave the truth like a white flag- praying, hoping, waiting for others to see. It always amazes me how far us humans will go to stay in our safe places. We are one of the only species that will be presented with the truth, even momentarily acknowledge that is might be so, yet choose to close our eyes and turn our heads away from the evidence. If we choose to continue as if nothing has happened, we need to acknowledge that we do this at the risk of damaging relationships, putting ourselves in harm’s way, or avoiding change. Anytime we avoid grabbing for or investigating information that would make us better informed and allow us to be a better friend, person, and example we are in denial. Oftentimes the information would lead us down a more authentic, true path.
At the end of the day, denial is not about connection and authenticity. Denial is a way to separate yourself from another person and the problem. Denial makes things temporarily easier for you but not for them and ultimately denial prevents change and life changing events cannot change your life when you are denying they have happened.
Where in your life do you need to acknowledge that you are using denial?
If I can help you in anyway, please contact me.