“You will find peace not by trying to escape your problems, but by confronting them courageously. You will find peace not in denial, but in victory. “-J. Donald Walters
Denial is one of those defense mechanisms that can help or hurt you. There’s a fine line between working at accepting a circumstance and just plain ignoring the problem exists. Denial can truly contribute to your stress level by blocking that there is a problem at all. This can leave you looking at life with blinders on, only seeing what you want to see. It can truly be impossible then to make decisions about stressful situations in your best interest.
Denial can be helpful during traumatic situations, such as a death of someone you know, job loss, or some other sudden upset that jolts your life. It allows you to move from a place of shock to acceptance without experiencing stress overload. Denial can, however prevent you from seeing the whole truth. You see only what you want to see. This is where denial prevents you from seeing the big picture or the consequences of your decisions.
As an extreme example, an alcoholic wants that next drink so badly that it doesn’t matter about what happens next. It’s far more important to numb out than think about the warnings the doctor has told them about their health. The next quick fix to feel better is far more important.
The present moment is distorted by an obsessed drive to get your needs immediately met. It’s as if an artist only painted a corner of the canvas.
I watched an episode of Hoarders a few weeks back. A woman and her son lived in a home filled with waste. The saddest part was that she was also dying of cancer and chose to not seek treatment. Her denial was so great that she was driving her family away when she needed them the most.
“Doubt, indulged and cherished, is in danger of becoming denial; but if honest, and bent on thorough investigation, it may soon lead to full establishment of the truth.”-Ambrose Bierce
The truth is not seen when twisted by denial. These extreme examples are to drive home the point of how deadly denial can be in people’s lives. But denial can live in your life at different levels of intensity. How is this defense mechanism affecting you?
Begin by picking one stressful circumstance and ask the following questions:
• What warning signs in your life show that there is a problem?
• Where are you in dealing with this stressful problem?
• What support can you get to come up with a plan?
Taking action is so important when dealing with stress. But seeing the big picture and as many facts as possible about the situation can help you cope effectively.