By C.M. Halstead

Human denial, the underrated Super Hero

What keeps us sane, keeps us moving forward; for me, that is alone-time in nature. Still, I withhold it, withholding our grounding objects is self-sabotage. yet, I know I do it frequently and often! Am I the only one? Doubtful. Can all admit to themselves that this is something they do to themselves? Also doubtful.

This denial is both our best survival tool and our biggest crutch. Denial that something is insurmountable is why some have summitted Everest or endured a cross-country bicycle race while dying of a unsurvivable disease (see an awesome documentary called “The Ataxian”: ).

Denial is also why we stay in abusive relationships longer than is healthy or we don’t leave a job that is crushing our soul.

Do we need to define “we” now? Human beings, that is “we”.

Who here is in denial enough to say they don’t self-sabotage?

For although we can work on ourselves, it is work. Work that can be forgotten allowing us to fall into the old pattern. It is consciousness of that denial quickly, being aware of that shadow of self-sabotage that enables us to stop lying to ourselves and choose to do the opposite.

The more we are aware of our own denial and self-sabotage, the easier it is to see in others, and for some, the less tolerant we become of it.

My wife and I recently had an experience with a landlord, that although they did not fix the electricity for nine months, and then chose to keep our security deposits when we chose to leave, they somehow presented themselves as the victims. “Why did you not fix it?”, “There was an old broom missing from the garage”, “We had to, we could not rent the place because you…(insert random made up comment here)”. Not only are they in denial of their lack of action, we were in denial in our expectation that they would become people of integrity and return our security deposits when we chose to leave after we had given up on them.

Two forms of denial there, ours that they would suddenly step up, and their’s that we were the perpetrators.

The gift in all this to me is we chose to do the right thing by our moral systems and therefore, are in integrity with ourselves. I am in integrity with myself. The question is, are they in integrity with their moral selves, or are they as they appear, angry and victims in their denial.

What does any of this have to do with my alone time in nature?

It is out in nature that my brain gets its time to banter through what is troubling it, what is keeping it up at night. It is where I allow myself the time that I know I need to come to realizations such as the ones above. Yet, I don’t always allow it.

I know that meditating on nights that I lay down to sleep and my brain won’t shut-off helps me to sleep. There is many a night where I just lie there anyway, letting my brain turn circles around itself, instead of taking the action that I know will help. Self-sabotage? Denial? both perhaps….

Am I alone in this? Doubtful. Are you? Who is in denial of their denial and is that a question that can be answered when you look into your eyes in the mirror?

If you can’t look into your eyes in the mirror, that may be your answer.

How about denial “in a good way”? When on an insurmountable self-appointed task, the voice that says “keep going, don’t quit”, when other parts of you are screaming to stop.

When climbing the tallest mountain, enduring the body pain and agony, negative oxygen entering your system enforcing eight breaths=one step, and then taking the next step up anyway.

When an entrepreneur and the world around you sees you as an anomaly, when your being wants to quit the struggle and reenter the workforce and your accountant agrees, and you keep moving forward anyway.

When life as you know it has ended, you are alone in the universe, and that part of you is screaming fuck it, and yet you put a smile on your face and wish everyone a good morning anyway.

Is this also denial?

To me, this is the part of perseverance that keeps us going. The positive part of our bodies ability to deny “the reality of a situation” and keep moving forward. It is how those at war live after throwing themselves on a grenade, how unknown entrepreneurs become legends like Steve Jobs, how children survive lost in the woods for days with no training.

The brain’s ability to survive at all costs, at times, takes denial that the evidence being presented to its reality. Instead, it chooses to live and thrive in spite of what the brain’s active message is telling it, knowing the story is message is b.s. and all is ok. The choice to live and thrive in spite of itself is all that is needed.

How’s that for a closing statement.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and comments below!