The biggest clue that I am in denial is when I say “I don’t know”. This simple statement may sound benign, however, it usually contains much more information. “I don’t know” and denial go together like peanut butter and jelly. They are the easiest ways to avoid – avoid knowing, avoid choosing, and avoid dealing with feelings. When I say “I don’t know”, it is my truth at that moment. It is also a clue that I have something I need to figure out or face – reality. It could be as simple as where I want to go for dinner or as complicated as do I want to stay in this relationship.
Denial is a function of the mind that protects us from feelings or situations that we do not feel capable of dealing with. Simply put – feeling overwhelmed. When we are stuck in denial or a state of overwhelm, the issues begin to pile on. We are avoiding things that are asking to be dealt with. This usually leads to painful consequences. The consequences can be small, for instance, I ate pizza for dinner when I really wanted sushi or significant, like I found out too late that I have a major illness or my partner decided he wants a divorce (these may or may not be actual examples from my life – wink, wink).
Watch the video below to learn more about leaving denial and living freely, or scroll down to read the highlights.
If you can relate to feeling overwhelmed or having a difficult time making decisions, it could be a sign that you are experiencing denial. Let’s take a closer look and determine if it is time to leave denial and live in reality!
Here Are 5 Ways To Leave Denial and Live In Reality
- Create a safer space to experience reality. What I mean by a safer space is a time or place that is conflict free, calm and supportive. If the noise in your mind is so loud you can’t hear yourself think, it’s time to quiet things down! If you don’t have the mental, emotional, or physical energy; It is next to impossible to leave denial and accept reality. Sometimes space can be created by a few moments of deep breath and choosing to clear your mind. Sometimes, we need more, like a therapy session or an even longer break from chaos.
- Consider common feedback that you have received but resisted. When we are resisting information, it’s a good sign that there is emotional discomfort attached to it and we are having a hard time facing reality. For a significant portion of my adult life, I was referred to as “intense”. That is a nice way of saying “bitch” or “control freak”. I had to be willing to receive the feedback and consider the possibility in order to move into reality. By facing this painful feedback, I was able to ditch the nasty behavior and become a (more) easy going and loving person (…though still kinda intense).
- Listen to your gut, meaning any niggling feeling, any emotional unrest or cognitive dissonance. We all have that small voice inside that cheers us on or cautions us when we are in danger. No, I am not referring to actual voices in your head. I am talking about the part of us that is connected to our inner truth. I ignore my inner truth when I am afraid of something. Typically, I am afraid of dealing with an outcome that I don’t want or didn’t plan for (reference control freak). Some folks refer to this sensation as a disagreement between your heart and your head. Whichever way you identify your inner truth, choose to listen to it. That is the path to leaving denial and embracing reality.
- Believe there is a solution and be open minded to what it may be. When we feel overwhelmed, it is in part because we don’t see a solution (or at least one we want to accept). When we become willing to explore solutions, take suggestions and accept that our way may not be the best way, we also become open to reality. This process of exploration takes time and some faith that you will find your path. This is best executed with help. Yes, help leads to vulnerability, which leads to emotional discomfort – but It is the most effective way to move out of denial! I am talking about that whole “seeing outside the box”, “two heads are better than one” thing here. Just do me a favor and make sure that the help you ask for is solid, trustworthy and reliable help!
- Use your support system to look out for any distortions (errors in thinking). When we start to shift out of denial to face reality, it can be its own kind of overwhelming. This is where we need ongoing support to help us remain grounded in reality. Often times our fears are irrational and we start focusing on unnecessary thoughts that create more chaos. Having a therapist, mentor, spiritual guide or support group can help you maneuver the minefield of thoughts, feelings and choices that come with facing reality.
The ultimate goal to letting go of denial is the peace that comes with acceptance of reality. It doesn’t matter how painful the truth is, the truth can be dealt with. I’ve always used the saying “what we resist, persists”. Whatever it is you are avoiding will continue to cause you pain…even if the pain is simply a daily argument over dinner.