Defence mechanisms are used to stop the ego mind from becoming overwhelmed, as if they were not utilised, the mind may not be able to cope with the pain that is arising. So they are not good or bad or right or wrong, they simply there to ensure that one survives.
Denial will be used during moments when the pain that one is experiencing is too much to handle. And while this can last for a short while and then come to an end shortly after, it can also go on to become part of one’s life.
Here, one doesn’t experience denial and then come to face what was actually going on; they are in denial about something and never come to face what actually occurred. Their whole existence has then become an example of denial. This is of course an extreme case of denial and in most cases, it is not that extreme.
What will typically make the difference is what one is in denial about. There are going to be something’s one could deny without too much trouble and then there are others that will lead to great challenges.
For example, one could be in denial about what sports team is the best; even though one has become the champions and the other team has not. And based on what the league table says or who has won the most, it would be clear as to what team is the best.
But while this type of denial may create a bit on conflict between friends, it is unlikely to result in some kind of life challenge. It is often a sign of how passionate one is towards their team and so facing the reality of the situation can be difficult.
When it comes to addictions that are destructive, such as the use of alcohol or drugs, denial can become a way of life. And these substances and many others are allowing one to avoid the feelings that would appear if they were to cut down or no longer engage in these addictions.
So alcohol or drugs could be blamed and yet these are only there to enable one to avoid pain. And for the person who is addicted to them, it is common for them to say that they are fine and don’t have any problems. To hear this can seem strange and even odd, but they are just protecting themselves from pain.
There are all kinds of abuse and if someone was abused by their caregivers as a child, they would have typically have had to denied how they felt. Because their survival was based on pleasing them and so it had to be covered up.
And as adults, it can be extremely difficult to admit to what happened. If they were to admit to what took place, it could trigger all kinds of pain and their very foundations could be shaken to the core.
So based on the kind of history that they could have had, to experience this pain again could lead to incredible suffering. They can come to conclude that the only way to cope with what happened is to deny its existence.
This shows that denial is not something to be taken lightly or dismissed. In some cases, especially in situations such as abuse, if one were to face what they are denying, it could result in some kind of meltdown.
Denial is something we all engage in from time to time and is beneficial to our survival. What it really comes down to is how long one is in denial for and what they are in denial about. If this has become a big challenge for someone, then some kind of therapy or healing may be needed to allow one to face what is so painful.
Oliver JR Cooper
Author of 25 books, Transformational Writer, Teacher & Consultant.
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That which is contained within these articles is based on my own empirical understanding and is true for me at the time they were written. However, as I continue to grow, what I perceive as the truth will inevitably change and as a result of this - parts of these articles may not reflect my current outlook.