Thursday, May 06, 2010

Stop Being in Denial

We're all in denial at some point in our lives. Something traumatic happens and denial pops up as a defense mechanism. Denial is a well known stage in the grieving process, it is something that is intentionally overcome at many steps in recovery programs of all types, and it is also something that most of us live with and propagate unknowingly through our lives.

The problem with denial, is that it is essentially an emotionally charged glorified lie.

Denial is a lie

Denial only occurs as a response to something that is true. You can't be in denial about a situation, or information, that isn't a reality. I'm not talking about just denying something, you can deny anything whether it's true or not. But the psychological reaction of denial is a reaction to uncomfortable information or events that are true.

Denial isn't a matter of left vs right, conservative vs liberal, religion vs science or any cut and dry system like that. We all experience denial, because are all human. But what we do with that denial; whether we work through it, or hold on to it and let it manipulate our lives changes drastically from person to person.

Denial is like a disease. It plays to some of our basest instincts including fear of what we don't understand and distrust of authority.

Denial, if left unchecked, turns into conspiracy theory

Denial spreads throughout groups very quickly, the members of these groups turn to one another for support and understanding. To cope with the information, and often, to deny the validity of the information. Resulting in large amounts of people who despite all evidence to the contrary believe some of the following things:
  • Child vaccinations cause autism
  • Jewish people are in charge of "everything"
  • Barack Obama was not born in the United States
  • It is better for the growing population of the world to starve to death than to eat genetically modified food
  • Flu vaccinations do more harm than good
  • Humans are not to blame for climate change
  • The government is poisoning our water
  • The holocaust never happened
Some of those examples may seem more extreme than others, but though the degree may be different, the substance is the same: Denial.

Denial is a lie based upon fear

Fear and lies have no place in our life. As believers, I think that we should never be afraid of the truth. You could say that Jesus was all about truth. He even said that he IS truth, and that the truth will set us free. (Gospel of John, about all of it)

There is no benefit in attempting to cover up other truths in defense or in horror of their existence. We cannot address our fears, or work to change some of the horrible realities of life, if we deny the truth.

We're told to not fear, that perfect love drives out fear, so why do we keep allowing ourselves to fall back onto our fears and lie to ourselves?

It's always a challenge to own up to our own fears and lies. But you have to do it to move forward.