We talk about denial a lot, but how many of us can explain what it really is?
- Simple denial is digging in our heels and refusing to admit to the facts, or that there is actually a problem.
- Minimizing attempts to make the problem seem less serious. “Charlie’s had two DUI’s; I only got stopped once and the cop let me drive home.” (I was only caught once, by a lazy cop.)
- Rationalizing creates excuses. “Hey, everybody cuts loose when they go to those conventions.”
- Intellectualizing avoids emotional engagement by theorizing. “Let’s see: my grandfather was a drunk and so was Uncle Bob. I was abused as a child. Maybe they were, too. I’ll have to check that out with other members of the family. Maybe that will explain why I’m so compulsive.” Yada yada yada…
- Blaming puts the fault somewhere else. “I wasn’t looking to hook up with anyone, but he just came over and sat down.”
- Diversion points to bigger problems. “I’ll stop smoking as soon as I see this project through. I can’t quit now; it will ruin my concentration.”
- Passivity is surrendering to the inevitable. “My whole family is like this. I may as well face it…!”
- Bargaining has us negotiating deals and making promises that we can’t keep. “I know, I know, (downcast face) I am so over it! It will never happen again!” and the well-known, “God, if you just get me out of this one….”
- Hostility is the “porcupine defense,” where we make it so uncomfortable (or dangerous) for anyone to approach us about the problem that they simply stay away and leave us alone. “To da moon, Alice!”
Ever been there and done any of that? Me too.