Ever find yourself completely in denial? No, me either.
I have a favorite commercial that deals with this issue none of us seem to have. It aired for the Super Bowl a few years ago. Now, I know this ad was aimed at men – but ladies you and I both know it applies to us too.
Take a look:
Now I know the message in the commercial is obvious…but what about the gray areas in life in which we find ourselves?
How are you? It is a question we ask and answer a dozen times each day. Innocuous, innocent and meaningless it is often muttered as a form of a greeting and less of an inquiry.
The problem with this question is that we ask it, but we really don’t want to hear the response. We are not interested or prepared to hear what people might actually say and so we hurry off with hopes of avoiding an awkward moment.
Worse yet, I bet you’ve been asked, “How are you?” and wanted to give an honest reply by sharing the depth of your pain, but deep down you knew the other person was neither interested nor capable of handling your honest answer.
Denial may look familiar to you.
Denial is the voice that says, “I’m fine” when we are not. Denial is the brave face that hides the pain, disappointment and sadness others over look. Denial is the fear of facing the facts. Denial minimizes the consequences of our actions (or inaction). Lastly denial is a prison that holds us captive and strips us of our freedom.
Denial is a defense mechanism, an automatic and unconscious process designed to avoid conflict or anxiety. There are times when it is beneficial…but those times are brief and it is the brains way of allowing us to adjust to a new or stressful situation.
When denial is used as an everyday coping skill, it prevents you (and I) from effectively dealing with the situation at hand. A little denial is okay, but when we allow denial to take up residence, we move to the dark side and what was once a healthy coping mechanism becomes a shackle to our souls.
What are some common situations that can lead to denial?
• Terminal illness/disease: Cancer, HIV, STD’s, Stroke
• Depression/Anxiety/BiPolar or other mental illness’s
• Addictions: Alcohol, Drugs, Gambling, Gaming, Pornography, Food
• Financial Problems: Debt, Foreclosure, Over spending, Bankruptcy
• Unemployment/Underemployment or difficulties on the job
• Relationship issues: Divorce, Infidelity, Infertility
• Traumatic Events: PTSD, War, Police/Fire, Abuse, Accidents
What do you do if you recognize you’ve been in denial?
• Ask yourself what it is you fear about the situation
• Think about the negative consequences of avoiding the action
• Give yourself permission to express your fears and concerns
• Try to identify what your irrational thoughts and beliefs are about your situation
• Talk to a friend, family member or a pastor.
• Join a support group, 12 step program or bible study/small group
• If you still find you are stuck in the denial stage, contact a therapist or other mental health provider.
God gave us denial as a protective measure. It was not intended to be a permanent solution, but a bridge to help us over a tough situation and transition into healthy thinking. Pray about these issues – the Lord hears you, and knows the contours of your heart. Allow Him to care for you in the midst of your hurt and pain.
When we can move from denial into trust and acceptance we are living in the fullness of God’s grace and mercy. He designed us for freedom and relationship.
Will you allow Him to remove the shackles from your heart and begin to restore you?