It is not uncommon for people to lie to themselves or make up false narratives in an attempt to hide from reality. Sometimes the truth, facts, or evidence can be difficult to assimilate. A human mind has evolved to protect the identity (the concept of “who they are”) with an unconscious psychological mechanism known as denial.
There are six defense mechanisms: Denial, Repression, Regression, Projection, Reaction Formation, and Sublimation. The theory of defense mechanism was first put together by Anna Freud, an Austrian-British psychoanalyst. This post is intended to help you spot cracks in your personality formed by living in denial.
An Example of Someone Being in Denial
The classic example of someone being in denial is when a person refuses to admit or recognize that he/she has gained weight— or are morbidly obese.
It is normal for a human being to want to feel good about themselves and consequently deny having gained a couple of pounds. You know when someone is in deep denial when they get defensive or form an aggressive posture when someone brings up the subject of weight gain.
Here Are the 5 Tell-Tale Signs You’re Living in Denial
1) You Blame Others for Everything
It is not reasonable to point a finger towards your partner, friend, business partner, or co-worker whenever you commit a mistake. When in denial, most people blame others without realizing that they are part of the problem. If this sounds like you, it would be sensible to begin accepting and owning your mistakes.
2) You Skip Workout Sessions
According to a report by SBRI, in the United States, 63 percent of gym memberships go entirely unused. Do not beat yourself up if you are skipping workouts due to fatigue, laziness, or some other reason. Realize that skipping workouts can bring a feeling of hopelessness and despair— which makes you even more prone to being in denial.
3) You Are Disconnected with Your Feelings
Humans are born with an innate ability to feel a wide range of emotions. Being disconnected from yourself means that you have temporarily become numb to these emotions. Like a smoker— despite scientific evidence— refuses to admit that smoking is harmful to health, you are resisting to accept your true feelings. Talking to a close friend or even a phone counseling session might help.
4) You Seek Positive Feedback
There is nothing wrong with expecting a positive outcome before you start a new business, begin a workout plan, ask someone on a date, or apply for a new job. Confident people have high expectations with themselves and others around them. However, if you are chasing positive feedback from others to feel good, you must stop and consider your actions.
5) You Are Stressed All the Time
Mental stress occurs due to external or internal conflict. It is normal to temporarily worry or be anxious about something extraordinary in your life, but it is a cause for concern if you are stressed out all the time. Most people feel this way when they— despite working hard— fail to attain their life goals.
Setting unrealistic goals is a symptom of denial. You are refusing to take in to account a multitude of factors that might be contributing to the mess.
It is not easy to identify the signs of denial in oneself. Ideally, you should have a friend help you out or join a mental health support group, but if neither of them is likely, I would suggest keeping your own journal.
Once every day, write down your thoughts without filtering too much. Analyze the journal once every week to look for signs of denial.