Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. ~ Mark Twain
Delay is the deadliest form of denial. ~ C. Northcote Parkinson
Most men would rather deny a hard truth than face it. ~ George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones
The thing about denial is that it doesn’t feel like denial when it’s going on. ~ Georgina Kleege, Sight Unseen
The worst lies are the lies we tell ourselves. We live in denial of what we do, even what we think. We do this because we’re afraid. ~ Richard Bach
This week there have been several circumstances at work that have had me thinking a lot about denial. Yes, as Mark Twain said, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.” – Denial is a very strong force, and indeed can be a cage that traps its victims and causes severe damage. I believe, as Richard Bach states, that denial is tied strongly to fear. Reality can be incredibly scary, and having to confront a scary reality is never easy.
When we are given information that we do not want to deal with, it is often easier to ignore it, or even actively fight against it. In schools we see this often with parents and children with learning issues. They will often vehemently deny problems, not because they are bad people, but because they are scared, or perhaps even because they do not feel they have the strength to really confront the issues at hand. We also see this medically all of the time – which is why C. Northcote Parkinson mentions that “Delay is the deadliest form of denial.” Indeed, as we delay getting the proper medical diagnosis and treatment we can actually empower disease to continue to run its course until it is too late to treat. I wonder how many cancer patients may have been cured, or entered remission, if only they had been brave enough to have a lump or spot looked at immediately. While I do not blame them for their fear, it is so sad to think that their fear may have actually created their worst nightmare. If fear of dying from cancer prevented them from seeking a diagnosis for many months, sadly, their fear may have created a graver situation.
I wish there was an easy way to defeat and destroy denial. I believe it starts with love and support for the person in denial. They need to understand that they will be supported (or their spouse/ child/ etc. will be supported) while they work to resolve whatever issue/ concern/ or situation needs to be resolved. The person needs to know that they are not alone and that, ultimately, things will work out (one way or another). It is hard to learn there are medical issues a person may have to face, and faith and hope for being victorious does help to conquer the denial (there is more chance of being victorious the quicker someone is able to let go of denial). Furthermore, if a child is having educational issues, the sooner they are understood, the sooner a plan can be set in motion to assist the child in making the necessary academic gains. Improvement is always possible with the right diagnosis and treatment – little is possible without proper understanding of the issues.
Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32 NIV
Today, 178 days ’til 40, I will challenge myself to reach out with compassion to those around me who are exhibiting symptoms of denial. I will remind myself that they are operating out of fear and that fear can be paralyzing. My goal is to help families understand that the truth will set them free, as by knowing the truth they can create plans to assist them as they move forward.
August 27, 2012 at 00:13
Amen to that!
August 27, 2012 at 22:32
August 27, 2012 at 00:48
“All progress begins by telling the truth.” There’s a liar inside each of us which we must learn to master. It’s called “the ego.” and it actually works to create its own demise – and ours. It says things like, “I can handle this. I’m enough.” Taking control and choosing action is a win/win. If it turns out to be nothing (or less), we save ourselves countless hours of anxiety. If it’s something significant (which, if we think back over our lifetimes, it seldom was), we stand a wonderful chance of overcoming the concern. By the way, did you get my link? Oh – have I told you that your students are so fortunate to have you as their teacher? Hugs from here, Alan.
August 27, 2012 at 22:33
Very very good points you make! It is so true! Thank you so much for your encouragement – yes I got your link!!! Didn’t you see I stopped by and read your post and “liked” it??? 🙂
August 28, 2012 at 04:43
WOOPS!!! I sure did! Thank you so very much for “liking” the post. I hope this finds you and yours exceedingly well! Alan
August 28, 2012 at 09:00
August 27, 2012 at 04:57
Well said. Denial can cause so much damage.
I do volunteer work with (emotional) trauma survivors. Their own denial is one of the biggest obstacles they have to overcome. Denial of a trauma from loved ones is one of the greatest traumas they may carry with them.
August 27, 2012 at 22:30
Yes, it really can – so very sad. Yes, denial of trauma can really effect the ability to heal – that is really demonstrating the fear I mentioned in this post – trauma is painful and people fear the healing because they do not want to “go there” – yet they need to work through that in order to truly heal and move on.
Another Thousand Words
August 27, 2012 at 05:00
Well stated, 400…and the quotes are very apropos. We weaken ourselves when we deny…whether it be health, marital or any problem we may face. In choosing truth, we really do set ourselves free of the burden of denial.
Thanks so for this inspiring post!
August 27, 2012 at 22:29
Thank you very much, Another Thousand Words (did I ever tell you how cool your name is???) 🙂 We do weaken ourselves with denial – truth is hard, but what a difference it ultimately makes!
August 27, 2012 at 12:59
August 28, 2012 at 02:02
Well said. I work with families and find that once they face up to what has to happen for their child, miracles happen. They set exciting goals, and feel very positive about what they can do to support their child’s learning, and then they put in the effort to change that child’s life.
August 28, 2012 at 09:03
So very true! Once the detrimental bonds of denial are broken, acceptance comes in and parents can find an incredible amount of solace and healing.
August 28, 2012 at 19:37
Denial ???!!!! I think we are all in denial over something in our lives or around us – personal I’m in denial that we can save Mother Earth, even if I do my bits … with recycling and cut down on my energy usage. Still I think that it’s too late … that’s also some kind of denial – then I have my cancer that I fear and in some respect lives in denial with – even if I can talk about it. I don’t think denial has anything with if we are positive or not – it has to do with to accept facts too .. when we don’t like them. A very bold tropic really.
August 28, 2012 at 22:28
Very true! We do all struggle with denial in one form or another. I agree with you – denial is not really about being positive or negative – more about fear and acceptance.
August 28, 2012 at 23:23
Reblogged this on Courtney B. Writing.
August 28, 2012 at 23:29
Loved this. Wonderful post and brilliant perspective. Sharing this with my friends and followers 🙂
August 29, 2012 at 22:47
Thank you so much, Courtney!
September 2, 2012 at 14:18
That’s true. Fear of failure creates failure, for example, and fear of not being loved often leads to behaviour which scares off those who might give love. Mind you, having no fear of failure generally leads to a period of success followed by a very big crash.
September 2, 2012 at 15:14
Very good point!