The key to survival is denial. We deny that we are tired, we deny that we are scared, we deny we hate our job, we deny we are in pain, we deny we are in love. Most importantly, we deny that we are in denial. We only see what we want to see and we only believe what we want to believe. Surprisingly it works. We constantly keep lying to ourselves and after a while the lie seems to be the truth. We keep denying the truth so much that we cannot recognize the truth standing right in front of our eyes.
What Is Denial?
Denial can be thought of as a complex psychological process where there maybe some conscious knowledge or awareness of events happening around but somehow we fail to realize their emotional impact.
We all want to be happy and contended and thus, denial is an attempt of our brain to reject unacceptable feelings, needs, thoughts, wishes or any painful reality that alters the perfect picture that we have drawn in our minds. This little act of denial protects us temporarily from seeing the reality and living in that perfect world that we have created for our sub-conscious mind.
Let’s think of this in a simpler way. Each one of us has had some or the other unpleasant experiences that we desperately wished would not have happened. If we hear about the sudden death of a dear one, the first words we usually utter are, “No way, it’s not possible”. This is clearly the refusal of accepting the pain that will ensue if the death was real. We want to believe that it is not true and console our heart. Thus, the immediate negative reaction gives us time to sink the information, readjust our thoughts and prepare ourselves mentally to face the horrific reality.
The feeling of denial is wonderful, it protects us from the cruel truth and helps us to believe that something is true, when in reality it is false. It pretends us to feel “love” when we are actually behaving in a hatred manner. It hides the truth by using big words to prevent us from feeling those dreadful feelings.
I believe one major reason for denial is fear. When we are weak from within and do not believe in ourselves, we need to lie to ourselves. We just don’t feel we are strong enough to handle the truth. Rather than accepting the truth and work toward creating a favorable outcome, we choose denial. But denial is just a band-aid. Instead of facing the horrible truths, it just covers them up.
There is a very popular Bollywood movie wherein the lead character tells everyone to touch their heart and say “all is well” whenever they are in fear. Now, the theory sounds good, shows positive attitude, but I personally feel it is just a balm to your pains. Just by saying things are well they are not going to become better. I feel instead of just fooling your hearts by saying all is well, it is better to calibrate our thoughts to accept reality and take actions to make everything fine.
We are not in denial, we just believe in Optimism!
Many people do not believe that they are in denial. If you tell them so, you would probably hear from them, “We are not in denial, we are just being optimistic”. There is no harm in seeing the glass half full, but if your positive attitude towards everything prevents you from doing what needs to be done, then it is not optimism but denial.
People who are optimistic face the truth and make adjustments to their vision regarding the reality and how things should be done. They don’t run away and pretend that the truth does not exist. By being in denial, you simply cannot change the truth. We are not Ostrich who can bury our heads in earth and pretend that no one can see us. By hiding the truth, we cannot make it go away. Truth is there, standing in front of you, it is better to accept it and align your thoughts accordingly rather than denying it and pretending it never exists.
So what are you going to do?
Will you prefer to close your eyes and live in the fairy tale land where everything looks picture perfect, or you wish to open your eyes to the reality of a less perfect world, where things aren’t always safe, where a phone call always doesn’t bring good news, where hard work always doesn’t give good results or where everything is not flawless, but it is a world where you actually do something to make the world a better place to live in?