Is someone you know in Denial?
Denial is a very interesting state of mind. It is the survival mechanism we humans use to survive painful situations in our lives. Unfortunately we have taken this mechanism to the extreme and for the most part live in a constant state of denial.
Most people lack understanding on how the long term effects of negating emotions can do to the human mind and body. When we live in denial we tend to live life in neutral – never reaching that sense of deep ‘inner fulfilment’. There is always a sense that something is missing … and there is. Denial is contractive, in that it pulls us inward. It keeps us playing small.
Denial is a survival mechanism that was intended for moments of extreme crisis.
It is NOT intended to be a way of being.
Life Crisis – Denial
For those who have either family or friends in ‘the stage’ of denial, attempts to push or pull them out of this state before they are ready can prove to be ineffective. In order to be supportive of someone in denial/grief, a person needs to understand it can also be the most difficult and frustrating stage. Encourage them to seek professional help, but do not insist, tread gently. Ask them whether they feel it would be helpful to them to be able to talk to someone who can help them through this time. In most cases the pain can be so great and they are so into denial they will not hear you. If this is the case, step back.
Remember it is their life and they need to do their own learning. You can’t do it for them, no matter how much you love them, and, yes, it does hurts to see them like this, but there is a fine line of being supportive and jumping into rescue them. It is a time to acknowledge your own pain and release that.
Encourage them to release their pain. If appropriate hold them, give them hugs and tell them they are loved and needed. Encourage them to have deep tissue massages, maybe you could support them by paying for the treatment. Be there for them, be their friend, just listen to them, allow them to get it out anyway they can. They may even want to shout, to rant and rave, allow them this experience. It is just another way of releasing the emotions that keep them in denial. Whatever takes place, stay detached, and do not take anything personally. Remember they are in a period of temporary insanity and they will hit out at whatever is handy. Understand the process for what it is and don’t get into personalities or judgement. The more loving support a person receives through this time helps the person to feel safe enough to allow the pain and grief to surface in order to be released.
The emotions need to come to the surface to be released – drinking and tranquillisers etc. only push them down again.
You may find they will go over the same scenario time after time, allow them. If it is a relationship ending, they will find so many imaginative ways to justify why the other person made the decisions to leave. Or why they themselves made the decision to leave. It is quite common for both parties to go into denial at the break up of their relationship. It is the coping mechanism of the person; they are in so much pain. If it is a passing, then they will imagine all the ways it could have been prevented.
It is very difficult to understand just how much, unless you yourself have gone through a similar experience. Just because a person decides to leave a relationship does not mean they will not go through the same range of emotions as the person being left. They do.
It is important to understand why denial is so important in its own way. It is the survival mechanism of coping in extreme situations, so to attempt to pull a person out of this stage before they themselves are ready, will short circuit the healing process, and may even be dangerous. There is no way of knowing how much inner strength each person has until they have experienced the extremes of who they are.
The issue is not that a person moves into denial in a crisis period, it is how long the person stays in this stage. It is a healing time, a temporary state of mind, while the body, mind and soul heals, and it is never meant to be a permanent state of mind. Unfortunately when one does not address the emotional component in a crisis period one can move into denial in a big way.
Mid-life crisis – Denial
This is a classic example of a person moving into denial and staying in this stage for two to three years and sometimes more. It is more obvious that this person is in denial as their personality changes. They do things that seem so out of their normal character. It makes little difference if you talk with them quietly, or yell and scream at them to alert them to what is happening, they simply cannot hear you. They are so into denial they really believe it is everyone else who has the problem …
Did you catch that … It is everyone else’s problem … they are into heavy judgement of others and perceive the problem as outside of themselves, and everyone else is responsible for how terrible their lives are at that point in time. They do not perceive that they are responsible for how they feel and need to do something constructive about it.
They are so locked into their fear, which brings them into a victim state that they cannot hear you. Can you see just how many of us are into denial in a big way all of the time?
For those going through this stage understand most people around you cannot cope with a person in grief/denial. It brings up their own unresolved issues and their own coping mechanism goes into overdrive, not in the same way as you will, but never-the-less there are some very strange things that come out at this time.
Another way friends and family deal with someone going through a deep life crisis or relationship ending, is the mistaken belief they are doing the person a favour, by putting the person’s partner down, with such comments as: “You are better off without them. They can’t have loved you to do such a thing”, little realising a person going through grief/denial doesn’t need to hear their partner maybe didn’t love them or is a bad person, or never coming back.
At this point a person in grief/denial still believes the other person is absolutely wonderful and just going through a dumb stage in their lives, or if they have died, it is all a huge mistake and the person will come through the door at any time. The partner who has left is usually in guilt, denial and anger and will tell anyone who will listen that their ex-partner’s behaviour made it necessary that they leave.
Neither is in a clear space at this time. Maybe those around them at this stage do have more clarity and can see the true picture. Yet even if you do, it is not your responsibility to shatter the other person’s illusions. They will, in time, if allowed, work through all the stages of crisis with professional help and come to whatever conclusion is appropriate for them. Not for you, but for them, and that is okay
All our lives we are taught to put our emotions in place, not to be too emotional in a crisis time. We are told, “Put it all behind you, nothing is served by raking up the past”. Wrong!
It is this attitude that is getting us into so much chaos at this point in time, so much so that it is putting relationships under a lot of pressure. In order to move forward, a person does need to release the pain, anger and rage they feel. We are human and we feel. Accept this state of mind and work through the crisis; do not push it all down. It will only manifest as disease or extreme irritability and anger later on. If not now!
Most people feel embarrassed about feeling emotion. Why? Because it is not macho or ladylike – Wrong! The fact is, it takes a strong person with courage to recognise the need to deal with the emotions within, in order to move forward.
It is fear that makes a person push their emotions into the background, and the mistaken belief is that by pushing it all down, it will go away forever. It doesn’t. Accept the fact, and deal with what is happening in a safe environment. The results are well worth the pain and effort.
When we are in denial – We are into a form of CONTROL.
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Tomorrow we will look at long-term denial … especially in business and it has a dramatic negative impact on your success.