In psychiatry, particularly in psychoanalysis, the “immature” psychological defenses, such as denial or projection, often prevent a person from understanding the source of their stress and finding ways to deal with reality. These unconscious mechanisms act to protect the individual from reality by distorting that reality.

Some of you might be asking “What are the consequences of denial?” There can be both positive and negative results. Let’s take a look at some of the positive consequences.

  • In the short-term, denial can help someone maintain their sanity
  • In the short-term, denial can help a person function from day to day
  • In the short-term, denial can prevent a person from having to acknowledge and face painful thoughts, feelings, or behaviors

What do these positive results all have in common? If you said that they are all only short-term fixes, you are right. The benefits of denial are short lived and will not produce permanent results. So what are some of the negative consequences to someone staying in denial?

  • It requires the denier to make continual compromises with reality to maintain their current view
  • It requires the denier to begin passing any and all of the blame onto other people instead of taking responsibility for their actions
  • It requires the denier to distort facts and logic to rationalize and justify their views
  • Problem solving and decision making skills will begin to rapidly deteriorate

There are of course many more negative consequences that could be listed, but we will stick with this list. As you can see, in the end staying in a state of denial will often cause much more psychological damage than it will prevent.

So now the real question to ask yourself is “If I think I am in denial, how can I change that?” Well, there are a few things you can try to help you recognize and confront these denials.

Examine And Acknowledge
Examine and acknowledge the areas you feel you are not being honest with yourself in. What are the thoughts or situations you have been trying to avoid? What kinds of statements about others have you rejected defensively because they hit too close to home?

Focus On Those
Find those areas and thoughts you have been trying to ignore. Look for the truth in those things you have been avoiding. Is there any truth in what you have been telling yourself? If so, what are you going to do about it?

Don’t Procrastinate
The longer you put off something, the easier it will be for you to slide back into denial. So take the time now to focus on the issue and do whatever it takes to get past this roadblock.

We have all experienced disappointments, setbacks, or unwelcome changes in our lives. It’s simply part of our existence. Some of us can bounce back quicker than others, and some of us might end up simply falling into a cycle of denial. If you find yourself in the second group, take some time to find if you are truly being honest with yourself. Can you Face Your Denials?