Scott’s Thoughts: Dealing with Denial

“We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.”

-Denis Diderot, French philosopher, art critic, and writer.

Man in denial, in the dark.According to the Mayo Clinic, denial is “a coping mechanism that gives you time to adjust to distressing situations.” Short-term denial can cushion the blow, but living in denial is a dangerous situation. As a real estate agent, you’ve probably encountered denial with your clients. This is especially true when sellers are faced with realistic home pricing, or buyers must accept the bitter truth about how much house they can afford.

The Mayo Clinic further clarifies denial this way:

“Refusing to acknowledge that something is wrong is a way of coping with emotional conflict, stress, painful thoughts, threatening information and anxiety. You can be in denial about anything that makes you feel vulnerable or threatens your sense of control, such as an illness, addiction, eating disorder, personal violence, financial problems or relationship conflicts. You can be in denial about something happening to you or to someone else. When you’re in denial, you:

  • Won’t acknowledge a difficult situation
  • Try not to face the facts of a problem
  • Downplay possible consequences of the issue”

Denial can be insidious, because when we are deeply in its delusion, we can create elaborate “evidence” and “alternative realities” to comfort us and preserve our protection from the truth.

There are some tools we can use to help cope with denial. Techniques include:

  • Honestly examining our fears
  • Thinking about the negative consequences of inaction
  • Allowing ourselves permission to express our fears and emotions
  • Identifying irrational beliefs about our situation
  • Journaling about our experience
  • Sharing our thoughts with friends, loved ones, or therapeutic support groups

There are¬†many psychological defense mechanisms worth understanding, but it seems we are inundated daily with evidence of denial in our culture at large. Don’t succumb to a state of denial. When faced with denial, keep these tools in mind.

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