Archive for the ‘Denial’ Category
Psychic Medium Ewan Nicholson explores how facing the things we hide in our “shadow self” ,can enable us to find more peace in our lives.
The idea of facing our shadow self sounds scary. Yet the process of facing our shadow self is fundamental in terms of living a relaxed and contented life. What is the shadow self? According to Wikipedia the Jungian definition of the Shadow is both
(1) The entirety of the unconscious, i.e., everything of which a person is not fully conscious
(2) An unconscious aspect of the personality which the conscious ego does not recognize in itself. Because one tends to reject or remain ignorant of the least desirable aspects of one’s personality, the shadow is largely negative. There are, however, positive aspects which may also remain hidden in one’s shadow (especially in people with low self-esteem)
Running parallel to the development of our shadow, we also build defences and walls to protect others from seeing our shadow self, as the fear built deep within our psyche is “if I expose of all my bad qualities it will result in not being loved.” Yet in the end the person we hide this part from is actually ourselves. Through denial, suppression, distraction and avoidance, we can go as far as shaping our whole lives around not looking at this part of who we are.
Hiding what we don’t like.
The process of how it develops is an inevitable evolution of knowing how we learn to integrate and live harmoniously in our environment. There are some emotions and feelings that are necessary to temper or hold back. So if we are told from very early age that “anger” is not acceptable and we are punished for it or feel intense disapproval as result of expressing anger we gradually place it in our shadow. As we have progressively associated being angry with not being loved, we filter this emotion out or certainly limit its appearance. Yet anger does have a healthy aspect of defining boundaries and sticking up for what we want and what we deserve. In holding back our anger we may hold back our confidence. An other example is our sexuality. This huge aspect of ourselves can often be assigned to our shadow self. In our culture, society, religion and often families there can be very fixed beliefs about sexuality being tied into morality and character. Feelings that may be very natural and healthy may be labelled sinful, depraved and morally repugnant. Yet the banishing of these feelings to our shadow self does not make them go away. They sit within our shadow self, repressed and festering, looking for an outlet but confined by rigid belief systems. As you often see these famous Christian evangelical preachers who condemn homosexuality publicly but end up getting exposed in some lurid , debauched gay orgy .It seems the deeper the feelings are suppressed, the more extreme the outing of those feeling are. Like a sexual pressure cooker that just explodes.
It’s a theme that I discuss regularly on this blog but its theme that I deal with regularly in my readings, it’s the issue of acceptance. On one hand it’s a simple and straight forward principle to practice , on the other hand it seems to grate and push against our instincts and drives. When faced with a scenario where someone is not feeling the way we want them to feel, we have hard time just accepting that this is the way they feel. We link accepting this with giving up and defeat. We then get caught in polarity that either I am pushing and striving to make the relationship better, or I depressingly throw in the towel and walk away. Yet often we fail to see that our “pushing” and “wanting” for that person to be different, could be a contributing factor that keeps them in the place where we don’t want them to be.
Acceptance is not about defeat, acceptance is solely about acceptance .If a person say, is unwilling to commit, they say upfront that they don’t want too much involvement. Acceptance is just respecting that person’s right to feel that way . Acceptance is practicing not fighting and struggling to get what you want, by trying to change the way another person feels. It can be tough and quite confronting, as our mind if often scheming and plotting to somehow, in some way, get what it wants. This could be more love, more commitment, more time, more contact, less distance, more communication, the list goes on .As we hold an idea in our mind of how we want that person to be and subtlety are pushing them into that place .We think if only they could commit and feel they way I want them to feel then everything would be ok.
The tricky part with acceptance may have to face the fact that the person we want to be a certain way, just isn’t that way. That doesn’t mean we have to water down the things we are desserving of, rather we just fully accept that this person is unwilling or unable to give us what we want at this moment. Choosing to continue with that person is then our choice, a choice we make with a honest understanding of where they are and want their willing to give .If someone decides to continue , whilst just accepting other person commits fears, they then may struggle with the feeling like the other person is now just getting things their way. It may feel like the relationship is now just shaped around their preferences and inability to commit .Yet the reality is, if they are unwilling to give more and really do only want something on their terms, then acceptance takes us away from the hope of a more commitment in the future that allows us to avoid the present.
I have an imaginary bird that sits on my shoulder that I call the â€œshould-do birdâ€. Like my crazy monkey of crystal meth, it is one of the other voices in my head. Before you shout â€œcrazy personâ€ I remind you that we all have voices in our heads, that we commonly refer to as thoughts. A persistent and repetitive pattern of thoughts, I choose to call a voice and give that voice a name. Itâ€™s not exactly a psychological breakthrough, as the use of, or analogy of our â€œinternal voicesâ€ is common in certain approaches of psychology. I personally find it helps to indentify these voices with names and clear understanding of what they have to say and contribute to my life.
The endless commands of my â€œshould doâ€ bird
As the various voices I live with go the â€œshould do bird” is one I end up listening to a lot. Itâ€™s been there perched on my shoulder for as long as I can remember. Its role and function in my life is pretty simple and straight forward. It reminds me of all the things I should be doing, saying, thinking , choosing or taking action on. Itâ€™s the indefatigable and unwavering voice that write and re writes endless lists of what I should be doing. The should do bird honestly never, ever shuts up. Its orders range from basic house hold duties such as emptying the bins, to work related task like sending an email, moving on to creative objective such as writing an Oscar winning screenplay, next relationship issue concerning being more direct in how I communicate, then on to amendments to my personality like being more organised, to wider more global issue such as making a difference in the world, then the spiritual dimension has to be covered with is have a direct experience of the oneness of the whole universe and these are the ones that have been chirped out before I,m out of bed.
Itâ€™s orders never stop..
In addition to ordering me to do these things , the “should do bird’ also has the duty of reminding me of when I havenâ€™t and lets me know overall how bad that is. As you can imagine my “should do bird” is pretty much ticked off at me most of the time as I rarely get to achieve all of whatâ€™s on my daily list of things to â€œdoâ€ and â€œbeâ€. We also have to be clear, its not the should do birds job to praise or acknowledge when I have accomplished things. Its job is to tell me what to do or be and then remind me when I havenâ€™t. Even when I am having a break or trying to take it easy , the “should do bird” is there telling me I should try and relax, thank you should do bird for that reminder.
How often do we hear the expression â€œshe/he is in denial”? In my own life I have felt the blinding and crippling impact of denial. Of course we are not talking denial in the meaning of refusing a request, we are referring to its definition meaning â€œAn unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelingsâ€ .Obviously the tricky part of denial is that important word â€œunconsciousâ€ .Itâ€™s easy to look back at an ex that might have been just using us, after the whole drama has unfolded. The issue is how can we be more â€œconsciousâ€ of what is going on, not with hindsight but with the midst of the situation itself. Another important word to observe within the definition is the word â€œdefenceâ€ .You could also use the word â€œprotectâ€ or â€œto safeguardâ€. It is like a part of us canâ€™t handle the truth so we build an almost imaginary reality layered on top of the real reality. We choose to believe, defend and uphold this reality, even though to others it is obvious or even absurd. To us our denial enables us to continue to believe and function. I can see in some cases how denial maybe a way to ensure we stay sane and balanced. .Particularly as children, maybe some realities are too hard for our fragile and vulnerable minds to face, so be build up a layer of denial to protect our psyche from too much direct trauma, particularly if there is little we can do to change the reality. Yet for most of us as adults who are able to deal and change our circumstances, denial then only serves in general to blind us to a reality that either doesnâ€™t suit us or doesnâ€™t serve us. When I look at my own life the areas of my biggest denial relate to problems I have had and my relationships. My denial is my public dishonesty, first with myself, then the rest of the world. When I look back it does seem obvious what I was in denial about but at the time it wasnâ€™t. So if I follow that logic I can only assume that right now there must other things I hold be true that I could be in denial about. So what do I do to work out whatâ€™s true and what is false? To be honest I donâ€™t have a clear answer, this is something I am working on, and probably will continue to be working on the rest of my life. Some pointers I can share with you on some characteristics of denial that can make it easier to indentify. A big red flag and flashing neon sign that you may be in denial is defensiveness, the same word mentioned in the definition. When someone sayâ€™s my employee is taking advantage of me and being lazy, then I get angry and defend them it could mean I am in denial. Maybe I afraid if I admit it that it shows I am a push over, a poor manager. Maybe it means the friendship I thought we had was imaginary and he was just using me .Either way when we loudly defend something it can be sign of denial. Avoidance is another sign of denial. When someone broaches something and I say â€œlook I just donâ€™t want to talk about itâ€ when they ask â€œwhy?â€ and I reply â€œwell I just donâ€™tâ€ in a snappy and curt manner it could be another sign.