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Can Denial Be a Key?

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We all use denial to keep experiences, facts, feelings, or beliefs that would most likely overwhelm or disrupt us out of our everyday consciousness. Because the mind functions like a machine, experiences, facts, feelings, or beliefs that are unacceptable to it are routinely denied and pushed away to be stored in the subconscious. If you would like to be free of emotional painful behaviors, then ask yourself this key question: how can you choose to be more aware? The answer is in the following story. 


As you read the following synopsis, ask yourself: is there a moral to give you an answer? The recently deceased Sufi teacher Indries Shah said that the unjustly imprisoned tinsmith miraculously escapes from prison. Here is how. 


A Sufi teacher tells the methods used for escaping when asked about it years later. The telling of this parable is taken from the The Spiritual Dimension of the Enneagram: Nine Faces of the Soul by Sandra Maitri. It is said that the Tinsmith told the following when asked how he escaped; he explained that his wife (a weaver) had woven the design of the lock to his prison cell into the prayer rug upon which he prayed five times a day. After realizing that the rug contained the lock design, he struck a deal with his jailers to get tools to make small artifacts, which the jailers then sold for a profit. He surreptitiously used the tools to fashion a key, by which he eventually made his escape. 


So the moral of this story is: that understanding the design of the lock that keeps us imprisoned can help us create the key that opens it. 


What is your key design of denial? Here is another piece of the answer. Upon reaching the state of being overwhelmed, you will tend to drop into hopeless or helpless states. It is the key here to slow yourself down enough to recognize these emotional states. It’s dangerous to remain in either of these states for any period of time because they often induce the destructive life patterns which include overeating, overspending, too much radio, television, or movies, etc. 


You become overwhelmed most often when the worst of circumstances come into your life or you are unconsciously triggered by something repressed on an ongoing basis. When you do feel confused, helpless, or hopeless, reach out to friends, a support group, or turn to therapy that will give you exercises and techniques as keys to help. Often it’s just a matter of trying different tools, techniques, and support systems until you find a combination that works for you. 


During the height of stress to letting go of past behaviors you can experience specific stages of grief like the stages Elizabeth Kubler-Ross wrote in her pioneering books on death and dying. When you take the next step of letting go or thinking of letting go of an old destructive behavior you need to be aware of these stages. Think of it as letting go or the death of the past behavior that you choose to get rid forever. 


Ross helped establish the modern hospice movement and brought to mass awareness the five stages of grief that precede and give closure to the act of dying—(1) denial and isolation, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, and (5) acceptance. 


Again take note of these five stages of grief. Often each loss, whether the death of a loved one, dropping an old belief, or releasing a limiting behavior pattern, needs to be grieved and honored in the natural process of the five stages before the individual can move to a higher level of functioning. When people let go of preciously-held beliefs, many times they will pass through these same stages before reaching and accepting a new state of awareness. The best way to shift to new states of awareness is to move at a random pattern between the five stages that are comfortable for you, until you reach a state of graceful acceptance. 


Sometimes therapy exercises, like the ones found in Not Your Mothers Diet by Dr. Fuller or other self-help books, can help. Other times your dreams help facilitate the transition that begins with these five stages. In certain cases, a support system of friends who understand the process can offer assistance to you, as you would for them. 


It’s imperative to avoid getting stuck in any one state for too long (which can bring on feelings of confusion or hopeless before you default to a destructive behaviors). If you do get stuck, that’s when it is valuable to have established safe others to help you through the process as need.

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