Post by Susan Peabody on Jan 23, 2009 14:54:04 GMT -8
Many people can’t change because they don’t want to change. They feel fine just the way they are and adamantly deny that there is anything about them that needs to be changed. Denial is usually a defense mechanism. A defense mechanism is anything we think, say, or do to manage the feelings we want to avoid. Sometimes even our feelings are defense mechanisms against other feelings. For instance, I get angry to avoid fear and blame others for my problems to keep the fear at bay.
Breaking through denial happens when people are ready. Sometimes quietly, and sometimes in the middle of great chaos, they have a moment of clarity. They remember something that someone told them years before, but they were afraid to acknowledge. For some people this will happen when they wake up one morning. For those less fortunate, it will happen as a judge sentences them to a life in prison. During these moments, people will open their eyes and acknowledge the truth about their situation.
Most of the stories I have heard over the years about breaking through denial are what people in Alcoholics Anonymous call “rude awakenings.” My favorite is about the Catholic Priest who was in denial about being an alcoholic. One day Father Michael had a little too much communion wine and stumbled over to a group of parishioners standing by the door. Unbeknownst to him, there was a reporter there snapping pictures for the local newspaper. As Father Michael tells it, “One minute I was smiling as Mrs. Davis and telling here how beautiful her new coat was, and the next thing I know I had reached out to stroke her breast. Then I heard the camera click and was blinded momentarily by the flash. The next day I woke up with a hangover and a new awareness of my alcoholism.”