What is denial? Denial is a mental wall we build when we are unwilling to accept change that has happened, is happening or needs to happen. It is a way of avoiding emotions arising from an experience that makes you uncomfortable, uneasy, anxious or unsure.
Any emotion that you feel a need to avoid is an emotion rooted in fear. Anything that is rooted in fear is something you don’t understand. When we don’t understand something we most often declare it to be untrue. We refuse to accept an opposing opinion due to our programmed beliefs, our conditioned behaviours and our desire to continue in discomfort under the guise of comfort. All denial.
The body is highly intelligent. We do not have to tell it how to digest our food, pump our blood or even when to breathe. Likewise when our mental state is clouded by habits, beliefs and conditioning that we are subconsciously unaware of, the body has to be able to communicate this information to us somehow. Denial is only but a small speck in the wealth of information that the body can communicate to us if we choose to listen.
How does the body communicate Denial? It does so through your beliefs and judgments of others and the world. Anything you are for or against is a belief. Any belief or judgement that you have is a lack of self-acceptance, not a statement about the other. To accept ourselves we must accept in totality the parts we love and the parts we don’t love. We must have an understanding of our experiences and not a judgement of them.
Observe: the physical abuser thinks they did no wrong and the mental abuser thinks they did no wrong. Even the victim of abuse thinks everything is fine. All are in denial. All have a fear of the unknown, a lack of understanding and all have made a judgement. Just as an alcoholic never believes he is ill, his beliefs keep him in denial.
Denial is the wall that blocks and hides the internal suffering arising from the way you perceived certain experiences in your life. The denial wall blocks you from seeing the reality of how unsupportive some of your character traits have become to yourself and others. Denial keeps us stuck in a perpetual time loop of an experience that has long past.
5 signs you are in denial
1. You spot it you got it – Pointing out the perceived faults in others. When you are triggered by the behaviour of others or their appearance be sure to know that what you have perceived is actually a reflection of your mental state. Not only do you act on this emotion, but you are also in denial of it and unaware you do so. Example: If you do not like certain people because you perceive them to be arrogant then be sure to know you are in denial of your arrogance. Thinking “I am not that” only happens when we do not accept ourselves in totality.
2. Habitual behaviours – any action, internal or external, which is practiced on a regular basis becomes habit. Some examples of external habits are: overeating, undereating, excessive drinking, excessive exercise, over working. An example of internal habits is our mental self-talk: “I should,” “I need,” “I want,” “they should.”
3. Making excuses – “Not me,” blaming others, “I never do that,” “I know it,” “I know I do this but what about you?” Devaluing the feelings of others.
4. Seeking comfort to avoid discomfort – Examples - Organising your life with lists and routines in an attempt to control your day. Looking for retreats and venues that give “feel good” feelings. There is no difference from the person seeking a retreat and the alcoholic seeking a bar. Both have the desire to feel good and both want to change how they are feeling. You cannot change what you do not understand, therefore, cultivate understanding. We evolve in discomfort and get complacent in comfort.
5. Lamenting over another person’s actions – “If only they can change I will be happy.” “If only life were different.” Projecting your own sense of unhappiness onto others. How about considering – why don’t you change? What makes you the authority to speak of others?
Observe these five patterns of behaviour and cultivate awareness and understanding of how they play out in your current life. Just because you are in denial of your own behaviour does not mean it does not exist and that you are not acting it out. Factually the more you are in denial the more you act out.
Better to know the behaviours you are acting out rather than to deny and defend them. The way you perceive the world determines the benefits you will reap.
Every human is in denial of more than one thing, be it an experience, a feeling and even external circumstances. Denial afflicts all humans.
Being in unity with existence means embracing all that you are. To embrace all that you are there must be an understanding that I too am this. When you truly embrace yourself in totality, denial is no longer part of your being.
By Guru Ashta-deb
Author of Life Happens To Us, A True Story