The opposite of optimism is not always pessimism. It’s usually denial, the greatest saboteur to our growth as human beings. Why is that? At least pessimism, like optimism, is an authentic perspective. Denial is not a perspective. It is a mental and emotional block that suspends rational thinking.
When we are not rational, we are not looking at objective, scientifically proven evidence. Denial deludes us into thinking that we’re keeping ourselves or others safe from negative consequences. Instead, denial makes us even more vulnerable to the dangers in life.
Some popular forms of denial:
“Someday he/she will change.” People adopt this belief when in codependent relationships, domestic violence, addiction, or emotional illness.
“It’s my fault.” Perpetrators of abuse hope that their victims adopt this kind of denial so that the abused go through life never accusing the perpetrator.
“It’s a hoax. It’s not a serious problem.” Haven’t we witnessed this position regarding the Covid-19 pandemic? How many have consequently failed to act in the best interest of the community? (Do you hear me, Pastors of churches still congregating?)
“Someday, someone will fix this for me.” This is delusional thinking at its worst as we wait for someone else to rescue us from professional or personal problems.
“The sun will come out tomorrow.” True. It offers a temporary respite from today’s struggles, but long term it fosters procrastination.
“Enough.” Like the previous form of denial, it is a short-term relief from being overwhelmed by circumstances. But repeated daily, it avoids working on the root of the problem.
“If I take a position I will not be liked and get into trouble.” Fear fuels denial. It is never embraced by whistle blowers, and those who take responsibility for decisive action.
Denial knocks us unconscious. We shut down our brains in order to feel better within ourselves, to justify our actions or lack thereof, or to wait for some magical person to solve our problem (are you listening, those who think God is the great “fixer?”) Denial also highlights our lack of courage and resolve and often, our narcissism.
The results of denial are never pretty. Denial delays action that could save a company, a career, or a human life. In short, it is a trauma-generator.
What do we do if we suspect we’re in denial (we never truly admit it!)? I speak with friends or professionals who are truth-tellers. I test out my possible denial honestly and ask them to shake me out of my illusion. It works every time because I’ve got some good friends and I’m willing to swallow foul-tasting medicine.
How about you? Who ALWAYS tells you the objective truth? Do you listen and then realize how ridiculous your form of denial sounds? Then do you awaken to reality, gird up your courage, and be who you are meant to be: fully human and fully humane.
Contact me to discuss denial further and set up a complimentary coaching session. PariseCoaching@gmail.com or text me at 813-449-3904.