Denial can work but it’s bad for you. When we come out of denial we have to admit there is a problem. Admitting there’s a problem means we then have to deal with it. No one likes confronting facts/emotions/situations that cause us pain or misery.
Yet that is often what we need to do to finally rid ourselves of our underlying sadness.
When you’re in denial, you have to employ all sorts of defence mechanisms in order to remove the source of pain from your conscious mind. This involves suppression of thoughts and an element of fooling ourselves. We need to justify our actions in a way that leave us feeling at one with who we want to believe we are (for example – a faithful, law abiding, honest person). if we are behaving in a way that is incongruent with the way we wish to see ourselves, the process of denial and irrational justification begins.
When we deny the truth we have to internalise the anguish. For example – if you are having an affair, this may not be in line with you who believe you are. You may think that you would never be the kind of person who would do this. So, in order to feel better about the situation – we justify our actions. “If they paid me more attention I wouldn’t stray.” or “He/She doesn;t show me enough love and affection therefore I am entitled to find it elsewhere”. There is a certain amount of denial here because, despite how we justify our behaviour, it is still going against what we really believe is right.
Long term suppression can lead to physical issues. I see suppression as a poison that is internalised. It often shows in clients in the form of anxiety, restlessness, the inability to sleep well, paranoia and other physical symptoms such as heart palpitations and headaches. Others turn to addiction to deal with denial.
In the long run it is not worth the effort. Confront whatever it is that you are in denial about. This may take a while – depending on how adept you have become at denying the existence of any denial!
But do it – it promotes longevity and peace of mind.
For a bit of fun..try Mandy’s iphone app:
Life Wisdom https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/life-wisdom/id392898772?mt=8
Â More on Mandy: http://www.mandyjane-lifedesign.com The author of this blog lives in Surrey, UK and offers counselling to couples and individuals. All names have been changed to protect the identity of clients. Personal client stories shared in this blog have been published with prior permission from the relevant clients.