In Webster’s, denial is a noun meaning refusal to admit the truth or reality (as of a statement or charge.) It goes on for five other definition and in my opinion the sixth is the best: “… a psychological defense mechanism in which confrontation with a personal problem or with reality is avoided by denying the existence of the problem or reality.” Have you ever been there? Are you there now?
I’m almost certain that each of us has been in denial at some juncture of our lives or pick it up when necessary and carry it with us like a Kevlar vest, preventing us from getting hurt. How’s your job? Are you in denial that it’s going to get better and the wretched boss will either leave or take some I-love-everyone drug? It’s not going to happen; find a new job! How are your relationships? Is life at home super? Does your spouse support you and do you maintain an open communication channel? Maybe it’s that you can’t leave right now, or maybe it’s leaving but not really. How are you finances? Like mine? Like Donald Trumps?
I’m working with a client and I know she’s in denial about her future. She thinks that what’s she’s doing will magically get better and it won’t. She wants to find the joy in her life and it’s on permanent vacation. She’s in denial. But, then again, so am I. I’m in denial that everything in my life will automatically go from so-so to fantastic. Maybe I’ll play and win the Lottery. Maybe the perfect client will call or e-mail and hire me for a long-term contract. Well, it hasn’t happened. Do I just sit here and wait…?
Why won’t Mike, Theresa, Brad and Kurt (not their real names) return my phone calls? What am I doing wrong? Do my voice mails leave a negative impression? Are you desperate in your sales calls and it comes through in your voice? Do you call and call and call, and still the caller doesn’t have the common courtesy to call back and say, “no thank you.” Why don’t people call back to say, “no thank you”? In a world of the immediate “delete” key, do humans now “delete” people from their lives with one stroke of a “key”? I hope not. But, communication skills are rapidly declining; rudeness is the espresso of the day.
I watch my co-exercise members talk too loud and use foul language as if they’re in the privacy of their car. I see them sweat and leave the machines disgusting without ever a concern for the next person and the grime left behind. Are they in denial that their personal hygiene doesn’t rub off on machines even after they’ve been on them for up to an hour? Do they feel it’s not their responsibility to clean up after themselves? I don’t know. I just watch and wish it didn’t affect my sensibilities, but it does.
We all have our vulnerabilities and fallibilities. Denial is what’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I buy a lottery ticket and think I’ll win; that’s denial. I hope my work situation will change and yet I don’t do what I need to do to make my expertise known to the people who can hire me. What’s wrong with me? Am I in denial that everything will work out because I’m a good person? Denial! Do you hope that everything in your life will be perfect and yet you don’t do what’s necessary to make your relationship with your child, spouse, manager, friend or self bring your joy? Is our world going down hill? What will become of the world for the next generation?
If the government closes down, whom do we turn to make it right if it costs us a day, a week, or a month of work? Where do our tax dollars go and our rights at the voting booth if the men and women on the Hill can’t come together to shake hands to give and take? It’s appalling and it’s happened before and it’ll happen again. Super what?
One of my client’s boss just up and left with only two weeks notice. They’re right in the middle of a huge project and he’s leaving not only the business, but the city. Why? Does he think it’s all about him and not the people nor the project? I guess so, or he wouldn’t have left. Are we in denial that we leave someplace or someone and the next place or person is going to be our panacea? Probably. But, it won’t be.
How many times have you sent your seven, ten or 20 friends the fwd. e-mail so it’ll bring you luck, money, happiness, a new body in minutes? Who are you kidding? Who’s really in denial? Or is that just “fun”?
We have to work from the inside out, not the other way around. We have to learn to forgive and move on. We have to learn that not everyone has the same value system as you do. We have to understand that hate and violence are part of a world that we helped create. We have to stop giving power to people who hurt us, ignore us, belittle us or make fun of us at work or play. Go deep.
Do we really need that defense mechanism to get through the day and won’t confront our reality? I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s my direction, it’s my lead and it’s my life and my reality. No one else will change this except for me. The same goes for you, my friends.
Face reality with boldness and certainty. You have friends, family and support. Go for it.