Words that chill me to the core.
With these words you can be stripped of all claim to reason. As long as you are “In Denial”, your thoughts aren’t worth the sugar that fuelled them.
To date I have not met a person who was In Denial. I have met a lot of people who have a great deal to lose by disclosing their wrongdoings. I have met a lot of people who do not wish to confess to a problem, lest they be prohibited further use of their excess of choice. I have met a good few people who, from their perspective, do not have a problem – some were, indeed the subjects of unreasonable expectations from family. Long before I went to AA I was fully consciously aware of my situation – as I pulled into a bottle store I would brace myself, and tell myself that when it got too bad, I could always kill myself. “Too bad” was an evolving concept – I’m surprised at what I willingly sacrificed for my alco-centred lifestyle.
I don’t know who invented “In Denial”, but I know that its one of the fundamental premises of AA-style programs – “You’re unable see what’s going on, so you need to give us a blank cheque on your will.”
Digression… One day I’ll do a reasonably detailed account of my AA experience. Lest I be caught out and called a fraud, I will confess that it was by no means entirely The Twelve Steps and regular meetings that kept me sober – I met my wife at a meeting rather early in our respective sobrieties. Our sponsors delivered the approved admonitions about relationships in early sobriety. Well, AA ceased to serve a purpose for us at 12 years, we’re going strong at 20. AA also provided a channel for a particular aspect of my nature – I was able to throw myself into the so-called “Service Side” of AA (Unity-Service-Recovery). What a magnificent macrocosm of ordinary life – I got to experience all sorts of boards and committees with all sorts of people with all manner of motivations and personalities, all moderated by the Holy Books… The Twelve Steps, The Twelve Traditions and The Twelve Concepts. These very clever sets of premises for proper behaviour hugely influenced my understanding of the nature of humanity and the particular instance of self. My point, however, is that if you want a certain outcome (throughout my time at AA, continuous sobriety), then you will find means within whatever framework makes itself available. [A corollary to this - exceptional students do not need exceptional resources; poor students need exceptional resources.]
Play the game by all means, as long as it serves a purpose and no one is further harmed, but it seems to me that if you’ve got people telling you that you are In Denial, then you’re busted. The sooner you confess and take your just deserts, the sooner the pain will stop. They may or may not be right about the problem, but they are not going to leave you alone until you do something. Worse than having “them” nagging, once you’re busted, you will never again be able to claim ignorance.
The words we use play a huge part in shaping our perception. Here’s a couple of practical exercises…
Get up in the morning and make the decision to state all your thought in a neutral voice – remove all of the judgment words… bad, evil, good, hurtful, embarrassing, mean, careless, brutal, etc. See how much longer it takes to become jaded for that day.
When you listen to a news report, mentally blank the words that are the reader/reporter’s opinion, and listen only to those which describe an independently verifiable event. Notice how much less aggravating the news is and how much better you grasp what is going on.
“In Denial” is victim talk. If you’re wanting to continue with the “problem” behaviour, then therapeutic models provide a wealth of points to which you can find exception, putting the onus for your behaviour change back on the therapy. Alternately, stop doing the offending behaviour immediately and avail yourself without quibble or qualm of the best available support resources. The method is immaterial if you have the desire to change mood, personality or behaviour – it’s called “changing your mind”.
These things are within the absolute and immediate control of your will. Failure of will to turn into action (change) indicates internal conflict – that will has not been established – that you don’t really want the thing you’re claiming to want. There’s only one of you involved – engaging in internal dialogue as if there’s two parties with equal qualifications is both futile and flawed. Without wishing to debate the source of internal perspectives, they are not all equal. There is always one that is right and others that are less right. The most right usually has an uncomfortable price – we will usually try to get away with a lesser good, and will often resort to wrong before doing a difficult right.
But who can blame a person for wanting to deny large chunks of the present reality? We’re not being shown great examples of restraint or discipline, with most of the leaders of the western world standing in their treasuries, watching their money-presses churn out hopes that were once promises, fingers crossed that it will all work out in a generation or two, or at least that it will hang together through their watch.
“In Denial” is an offense to Humanity. We are better and worse than that. And better or worse, we can change any time.