A Coaching Power Tool Created by Natasha Vascic
(Life Coach, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES)
What is denial?
By definition denial is an action of denying/rejecting something to be true or to exist. It is perceived as unwillingness to accept that something unpleasant is true such as: “He’s still in denial about the break-up of his relationship”. It could also refer to situation in which someone behaves in a way that goes against their beliefs and what they think is right: If I did what you ask, it would be a denial of everything I stand for (believe in).
The danger of being in denial is that one can lose his or her true identity, which can lead to unfulfilled and very unhappy life. As well, many people are not even aware of the fact that they are in denial. Nowadays many contemporary phycologiststreat denial as the first stage of copping cycle which is somehow perceived as needed.
In Phycology, the theory of denial was first seriously searched by Anna Freud. She classified denial as of the immature mind, because it conflicts with the ability to learn from and cope with reality. Where denial occurs in mature minds, it is most often associated with traumatic events such as: death, dying and rape. (Wikipedia)
There are many types of denial and purpose of this paper is not to examine those which are directly related to the mental health issues; as these ones require a professional medical help.
What we are going to explore are situations when clients are in denial to recognize and acknowledge that their current beliefs, values and expectations do not meet their reality and desire outcomes. Denial keeps you stuck by creating an unrealistic views and expectations and therefore prevents you from moving forward. Many clients come to coaching feeling confused and unable to understand their current situation; often blaming others for their own misdoings, failures and other unfortunate events and not realizing that the problem lays within themselves.
In order to breakthrough and get unstuck from the denial stage, the first step is the realisation and acceptance of the same. What will fallow next is willingness to change and action plan.
So, how can this be achieved?
It’s coach skills to recognize that someone is in denial and check with the client, what is important to him or her at this very moment. As mentioned earlier, many clients will say things and behave contrary to theirs believes and values.Therefore, coach needs to provide feedback which will enable client to reflect back and make sense out of it. Furthermore, the coach need to be patient and be aware of the fact that acceptance has its own cycle. It is a process which may take more or less time and is very individual to all. It’s also important to be aware of different emotions one can go through; from anger to depression and aloofness. Therefore, constant checking on clients’ feelings and emotions are necessary.
What is acceptance?
By definition, acceptance is the action of consenting to receive or undertake. It is also defined as the process or fact of being received as adequate, valid, or suitable.
Once the client becomes aware of the denial and is ready to accept; he or she needs to be praised and acknowledge for the huge leap they made. Many would agree that one requires a lot of courage to be able to accept his own denial. It could be also that someone has lived their entire life in denial out of fear or shame to accept and face the reality. I remember one of my client who was in denial to accept that her marriage was over. Her husband has left her and their daughter due to some unforeseen events (at least this is how he presented it at the time) and promised her that he will be back, once the things are settle down. My client was brought up and raised tobelieve in traditional marriage values; which meant that marriage should be preserved no matter what. However, the reality she was brought in did not meet her values and expectations and because of that she suffered a lot. Logically she knew her marriage was over but on the other hand her underlying believes have kept her in denial for years and she had a hard time to accept.Acceptance is the first and the most importance step. This will allow the client to change and move forward with their lives. The next step after acceptance is commitment and willingness to change with production of an action plan. As mentioned earlier, the process to gain awareness and acceptance is the toughest job the one has to undertake. However, once it has been reached it will take you on a journey of self – discovery and new awareness.
How to welcome Acceptance? Questions to ask:
“Is this belief truly serving me (you) right now”?
“What do I (you) truly want?”
“What is important in this very moment?”
“I hear old me, what does the new me want”?
“What is the true?”
“What are you (am I) avoiding?”
“What are you (am I) choosing?”
“What do I (you) want to acknowledge myself/yourself for?
“What am I (are you) ready to let go?”
“How committed am I (are you)?’