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What makes denial so powerful is that it works with its “accomplices” – avoidance, diminishing, and blame. It therefore is one of the hardest habits to break. How can a person work on something that they feel they are not responsible for or didn’t do?
Denial leaves no room for self-awareness, and no room for growth or freedom, but it sure as hell makes life much easier, or so it seems! Denial, after all, is the sister of ignorance, and ignorance is supposedly bliss.
One would assume that it’s easier to avoid responsibility and look the other way. I’ve been in denial many times. And I always ended up paying the price for it. Consequences are what finally got me out and away from the blame game. As long as there are no severe consequences, as long as there are enablers, there will be denial.
I remember having a conversation with my father twenty years ago. He was telling false stories, and I corrected him. He totally flipped out, and yelled at me that I’m a liar. This is the first time that I truly started to grasp denial. He didn’t defend, he actually believed what he was saying!
I have observed this behavior time and time again, and it still leaves me speechless. As a manager, I would present an employee with black and white results, and he or she would look straight at them, claiming that they didn’t do it, or that it wasn’t their fault. I remember reprimanding an employee once for constant personal phone calls. She looked straight at me and told me that she was never on the phone during work hours. I sat right next to her!
Or I would call someone I considered a friend on their bad attitude, and they’d turn around and attack me. And then there’s the downplaying of a situation… i.e.m “I wasn’t really cheating on you, we were just hanging out.”
Life seems so much easier when one removes all responsibility, accountability and truth, and when one can point the finger at someone else, claiming that “it” wasn’t a big deal, that they didn’t do it, or attacking the one who called them on their actions. But is it really the better place to be? Would I rather be able to live in total denial? What would my life look like?
What are we without our integrity and strong character? What are we if we can neither receive, nor give truth? How sad would my life be if I had to continuously muster up all my energy to keep my eyes firmly shut and avoid being discovered for the fraud that I truly am?
When I lived in firm denial, there was no bliss. Instead, there was disappointment, tears, anger, sadness and isolation. As long as I couldn’t be real with myself, I couldn’t attract others who were real either; which left me pretty lonely and miserable. The more I’d deny and blame, the more I’d sink into unrealistic expectations and victimhood; which in return would leave me more and more disappointed. With each disappointment, I’d point the finger again for being rejected and deceived. After all, denial fuels one of the most dangerous parts of the ego, the victim and martyr.
There was no happiness in those modes for me. There was no satisfaction and definitely no light at the end of the tunnel. Life would vary from being miserable and sad to being mediocre and bearable. There was not a whole lot of joy and no freedom at all! The few moments of “fun” were pseudo moments of happiness that wouldn’t last, but at least gave me the illusion that I was OK.
I now know that I am not the outsider I thought I was. It turns out that there are quite a few people who get me perfectly well. Maybe it’s easier to understand me when I don’t wear a mask, act from fear or suspicion, or from a place of having way too many expectations? I’m complicated and multi-faceted, but that doesn’t make me unreasonable or impossible to get along with. I’m more open and vulnerable than I’ve ever been. I guess that makes me more approachable and shows my true character. Evidently, this “new” me draws in a lot more people. Not living in denial any longer has given me the true, keen insight needed to stay clear of those who could exploit or damage this newfound open heart.
It’s a bit wobbly out there, but these days it’s actually much more fun, less energy consuming and leaves me with feelings of true bliss. By Carmen Honacker