By: Sharon Dolak
Denial is a coping response that gives us time to adjust during shocking, distressful situations and avoid anxiety.
We refuse to see the truth because we are trying to protect ourselves from a painful, overwhelming situation.
Some things, many things are simply hard to accept all at once and we need time to adapt. Denial is necessary and helpful for a short time.
Dental Professionals Stuck in Denial
Some Dental Professionals are stuck in denial about their life and career.
When this protective denial has turned towards the dark side, it prevents you from making a change you so very much want and need.
The Dark Side of Denial
You may have thought after you graduated, I‘m not so sure I like this work, but you continued to press on because of loans, time spent, and investments made.
It started with a body ache, but you persist in spite of it getting worse. You might feel unchallenged and bored. Your situation feels hopeless; therefore, you avoid thinking about the problem. You stay and justify staying because the money is good, or the environment is familiar.
Starting over is scary. This is the dark side of denial.
You want to leave but there are forces that are preventing you from making a change. You want to solve the problem but can’t figure out how.
One force is denial.
I can see a chiropractor, I can ignore her snarky responses, and I can do this one extra patient even though I am exhausted. I can tolerate this because the money is good.
Rationalizations. All seem reasonable.
You know there is a problem that needs to be solved but the dark side of long-term denial has led you to feel that nothing you do will make a difference or has led you to believe you don’t know how to go about making the change.
“I can’t think about this right now” has become an automatic thought.
How To Overcome Denial
Accepting the reality that change is necessary, at the same time not knowing what to do or how to go about getting there is incredibly scary.
What do we say about drug addicts? Until they admit they have a problem they cannot get the help they need.
Acceptance is Necessary to Begin Recovery
Acceptance is necessary to begin the recovery process. Your recovery out of denial.
Accepting everything that you are feeling and experiencing without any judgment is not easy, but it is a practical and purposeful step toward breaking free of denial.
Acknowledging Your Current Situation
Acknowledging your current situation leads to problem-solving so you can get to the good stuff in your life.
Acceptance that your body can’t do more, The money is not worth it, and the environment will never change, is necessary to be able to begin exploring how to make the change.
Denial works for only so long. You can’t fix these issues from a position of denial. Acceptance is you living in what is true. Hear that. You know what is true. Living a lie, in fear, and denying the truth is hurting you more than making a change will.
Do you remember the movie Signs, where the little girl would not drink the water in all the glasses she left around because it tasted funny?
And Merrill used to play baseball and swung at every pitch because it felt wrong not to? He didn’t understand why, but at the end of the movie when they were in a life-and-death battle with the aliens, it all came together. Yes, fear was there, but he now understood and accepted the Signs.
In that final moment and realization of truth, he knew what he must do. Swing Away. In swinging away, he knocked the alien down and the water spilled on it, killing the enemy within their home.
They discovered the truth of what will save them all in that action of swinging away. What do you think? Are you ready? Have you seen enough signs? Discovered the truth? Confronting denial is no small task but if you are ready, you are poised for such a moment as this.
Up Next: What is Toxic Positivity?
Photo by cottonbro studio