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Getting over Denial When the Truth Is Heartbreaking

Getting over Denial When the Truth Is Heartbreaking

Denial is part of being human. We deny things in an attempt to protect ourselves from the facts we refuse to face. We all do it at some point. We deny death, we deny that a relationship is over, we deny that we lied to a friend. Sometimes denial can be healthy; we deny the desire to stop working on a paper for school or a project for work by telling ourselves we aren’t tired – we can do it! But denial can also be dangerous. When we deny something to a point that it impacts our lives negatively (i.e. a toxic relationship, an unhealthy addiction), we set ourselves up for hardships.

When a loved one dies, the first stage of grief is denial. It makes sense, right? We refuse to believe they could really be gone. By failing to accept the truth, we allow ourselves to come to terms with the reality slowly. But once we get past the pain and shock, we can toughen up and start to accept what has happened.[1] But how do we get over denial when we don’t feel strong, or when the thing we are denying is something we have to face?

It can be challenging to accept reality when we feel we have an unfinished business.

If someone dies and we don’t get to say goodbye to them, or if we never got the closure we needed from a breakup before moving on to a new relationship, we can feel like something is missing.[2]

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Sometimes, the thing that’s missing doesn’t have to be something sentimental, like saying goodbye. In fact, we can experience denial when we didn’t get the chance to be angry with someone. Perhaps you find yourself denying a relationship has ended not because you still love that person, but because you never got to tell that person how angry they made you. Likewise, you could be angry that a parent died because of how the will was written, causing you to deny they are truly gone and there is nothing you can do.

Denial becomes a problem when we use it to avoid the negative emotions.

Though denial is a natural response to a challenging situation, it can be a bad thing if it’s used intentionally. If you deliberately use denial in order to avoid the emotions you are experiencing, you may be hindering the healing process.

In the book turned Netflix series, ’13 Reasons Why,’ a high school girl named Hannah has committed suicide. The show revolves around her parents and classmates struggling to understand why this happened. There’s a shocking scene that perfectly summarizes denial in which the girls’ parents are at dinner.(Spoiler ahead if you haven’t watched it!) Hannah’s mother strikes up a conversation with another patron, the mother of a little girl. The stranger asks if they have children. Hannah’s mother suddenly tells the woman that they have a daughter. She’s 17 and already looking at colleges. The husband looks confused, but she continues to discuss what her daughter may major in, and other elements of her life. At no point did she accept reality and explain that she had a daughter, but she passed away. It’s heartbreaking and tragic, but the husband was trying to cope. That’s why he was confused as to how his wife handled the question.

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The denial she was experiencing only caused the two to argue and break down. It didn’t help either of them. Though a fictional example, it’s an accurate one. Because Hannah’s mother didn’t know why her daughter killed herself, or even have the chance to talk her out of it or say goodbye, she couldn’t accept that she wasn’t coming back.

Moving on really is the only option no matter how hard it is.

As much as denial may seem like a safe way to protect yourself from the difficult truth, it just isn’t so. But knowing you need to overcome denial isn’t enough to, well, overcome it. In fact, when you realize you are forcing yourself to ignore the truth and refuse acceptance, you may find yourself even more overwhelmed and wondering where to begin. Like most instances where closure is needed, writing a letter you will never send can be helpful as an outlet. But there are other ways to face your denial and start living a better life.

While you obviously have to accept the situation for what it is and face that you are in denial, there are steps you can take to truly overcome those feelings and start to move on.

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Accept the anger you may be feeling.

If you’re denial comes with feelings of anger or extreme disappointment, it’s okay to feel those things! Know that your feelings are valid. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go around punching walls and yelling at people, but you can scream. Go for a hike, climb a mountain, get somewhere where the only things to be bothered by sound is the wildlife and just let it out. Yell, scream, cry, and throw things if you have to. Until you release that anger, you won’t be able to positively interact with anyone, even if they aren’t the cause of those feelings in the first place.[3]

Simply knowing you’re in denial is not coping.

It’s not enough to accept you’re in denial. Sorry. While it’s the first step to overcoming it, you have to do the footwork. We already know the defense mechanism serves a purpose, but once you feel ready to vent to someone, you have to do it. Make sure when you are ready to talk, it’s with someone you trust to listen and be respectful. The things you are going through are valid, and you need to talk to someone who will know that.[4]

Don’t get caught up in the stages.

While denial is the first stage of grief, don’t get obsessed with following the stages. Everyone deals with things differently, and there’s a good chance you may find yourself skipping around. This doesn’t mean you aren’t actually coping or grieving “properly.” And if you’re trying to help someone grieve and get over their denial, you must stay patient. Even though we may not understand the time it has taken someone to accept a death or a different kind of loss, that person is dealing with it on their own level.[5]

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For reference, the stages are as follows:

  • Denial: A defense mechanism to deal with great sadness.
  • Anger: Frustration and helplessness associated with tragedy often results in feelings of anger.
  • Bargaining: You think you could have prevented it if you had just done [insert reason here].
  • Depression: Incredible sadness often comes along with grief as the pain of the tragedy begins to set in.
  • Acceptance: You will always feel some sadness, but you will begin to move on with your life.

You don’t have to be strong and you don’t have to forget.

Overcoming denial doesn’t mean you can’t feel. You’re allowed to cry and you’re allowed to move on with your life while still carrying that loss with you. There is no “right” way to feel pain or accept something life-changing. You will always carry the event in your heart, but you will overcome the feelings of anger and blame. Even though it’s hard and it will always hurt when you think about it, overcoming denial is the only way to regain control of your life.[6]

Along with allowing yourself to be patient as you face your denial, remember that whatever you are experiencing that caused you to feel that denial in the first place is valid. People can grieve for death, moving away from home, graduating or even changing jobs. If you are in pain or hurting, acknowledge that. There is no comparison of pain that you should measure yourself against. Your feelings matter, and so does your happiness. Overcome your denial to live in happiness.

Reference

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Heather Poole

Technical writer

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Last Updated on February 1, 2019

How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

How to Increase Your Self Awareness to Be Much More Successful

Self awareness can be defined as having a clear understanding of your personality, including your beliefs, emotions, motivation, strengths and weaknesses.

A 2010 study by Green Peak Partners and Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations found that self awareness is a key and common characteristic of successful leaders. [1]

And research[2] by the Driehaus College of Business at De Paul University has also demonstrated that high self awareness leads to improved team performance.

Self Awareness Makes You Improve Much Faster Than the Others

“If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.” – Ralicoph Waldo Emerson

Self awareness allows us to understand who we are, and how others see us. From this, we can determine how similar or different we are to other people.

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Individuals with high self awareness tend to live happier and more fulfilling lives. That’s because being self aware brings several powerful benefits, including:

  • Finding and expressing your authentic self.
  • Being proactive, instead of reactive.
  • Enjoying positive and harmonious interpersonal relationships.
  • Having deeper thoughts.
  • Revealing your true purpose.

One secret behind the magic of self awareness, is the fact that being self aware allows you to see your weaknesses. Once you know what they are, you can then act accordingly to fix them (where possible).

As an example, think back to a time when you achieved a major success in your life. Your confidence jumped off the scale, and suddenly, everything in your life began to look rosy. However, success was fleeting, and before long you were not only back where you started – but had lost your initial faith and confidence too.

Instead of seeing this as bad luck or personal failure, the better response would be to analyze exactly what happened.

What caused your success? What caused your failure? And what could you have done differently?

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By answering these questions, you’ll gain insight into your decision making and personality traits. Most importantly, you’ll be able to discover where you went wrong, and how you could avoid this next time around. This is how self awareness becomes a crucial partner in reaching your dreams and goals.

How to Increase Your Self Awareness

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.” – Lao-Tze

Okay, you’ve now seen some of the ways that self awareness can boost your success in life. (And we’ve only scratched the surface of potential benefits.)

It’s now time to reveal several tips and techniques that will increase your self awareness.

Take a psychometric test: You’ll understand more about yourself

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Psychometric tests are ideal for raising your self awareness. The tests force you to think deeply about yourself, and how your react to different situations. Self reflection = Self awareness. Try this free, 100-question psychometric test offered by the University of Cambridge.

Keep a personal journal: It can reduce anxiety and depression at the same time

Writing a daily journal can be a great tool for increasing your self awareness. If your writing is honest and open, you’ll quickly discover things about yourself that you’d never previously realised. You’ll also begin to see how habits create your conditions. For self awareness purposes, your daily journal should (at the very least) list your biggest failures and greatest successes of the day. Science supports the effectiveness of journalism, with a recent Psychotherapy Research study[3] showing that writing a daily journal reduced anxiety and depression.

Learn to meditate: To clear your thoughts

If you’ve never tried meditating before, then you should definitely consider trying it, if you want to boost your self awareness. Meditation can help you to delve below the incessant chatter of your conscious mind, and instead, let you tap into the depths of your subconscious mind. As well as boosting your well-being and health, meditation can clear your thoughts, and help you to become more creative.[4]

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How to get started? There are plenty of books and videos that can teach you the basics of meditation. Alternatively, you’ll be sure to find mediation classes in your local area.

Ask for feedback: You’ll be amazed

Choose a close family member or friend who knows you well. Ask then to give you an honest appraisal of your actions, beliefs and motivations. You’ll be amazed (and possibly shocked!) at what you hear. In fact, it’s likely that you’ll gain a completely new perspective on yourself. Use this new knowledge to make positive changes that could increase your effectiveness and success in life.

Through boosting your self awareness, you’ll begin to see new, exciting opportunities for growth and success. You’ll also learn how others see you. This will help your interpersonal relationships – as well as your ability to read others.

Self awareness can help you predict the success of others. It can also help you predict your own success.

So, choose to follow in the footsteps of the highly-successful, and start developing your self awareness today.

Reference

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