Denial is a normal human reaction or coping skill to handle shock, grief, bad news, or negative things that we do not want to face, because to face them would require something that we are not ready to, or are not prepared to acknowledge. It is a way to delay an unpleasant circumstance that we sooner or later are going to have to see as a reality in our lives.
When our spouse says they don't love us anymore, we refuse to believe that they really mean it. When someone is told they have a terminal illness, we bargain with God to change the diagnosis. When our children become 18 and are ready to leave the nest, we have a hard time accepting that they grew up so fast. When we are fired from our job of twenty years, we are in denial that we no longer have a place to go to work every morning. When someone we love is mentally ill, sick, or dangerously abusive to us, we find it hard to believe that someone who is supposed to love us could act in such a horrible manner. And when someone close and dear to us dies, or is killed in an accident, we go into "denial" that such a thing could happen.
The examples are endless of ways that we engage in denial to handle the inevitable. But the fact remains that life is always changing, we are continually growing older, and one day we will die and so will those that we love. And before we die, life will throw us some curves.
Jesus even struggled with denial in the sense that in the Garden of Gethsemane He prayed to God to "take this cup from me" before He was arrested and crucified. And God's answer back to Him was:
My Grace is Sufficient For You"
Denial is at first, in any situation a "protection" from something very hurtful to you. But eventually you have to move past it, and get to "acceptance" or you will never find peace. So, it is unhealthy to stay in denial for very long, or you can become sick yourself!
Not only that, if you stay in denial about some truth or circumstance in your life, that is "staring you in the face"or is like "the elephant in the living room" you actually help those around you to stay in denial as well. In fact, entire families can be in denial about one member of the family, and then the whole family becomes sick.
When you let go of "denial" you meet the "truth" and the "truth will set youfree"from the pain of what you are facing. And when you stay in the "truth" of any situation, you will grow inwardly and outwardly into a maturity that will help you with the other struggles of life that will come your way.
Letting go of Denial is the door to Acceptance, and Acceptance is the path to Peace.
If you are experiencing difficulties with a situation that you are in denial about or someone you know is in denial, please do not hesitate to contact me via email, or phone by doing one of the following:
Patricia Jones, M.A.
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