One night before George goes out with his new lady friend, he tells her a few stories. One included waking up one morning after a night of drinking with blood on his shirt. The caveat being he had no idea where the blood came from. On another occasion, upon being shoved by a young woman in a club after drinking for a while, George pushed her back and the woman went flying across the room. George admits that at this point, he realized he did not know what his alcohol limit was. He stated this in past tense; these events had happened about a year prior and since then, George had allegedly altered his drinking habits. This statement was made as George pulled out two small bottles of vodka. One was for himself one for his lady friend. When she declined the offer of drink he downed both bottles himself.
Two hours later at the club the couple had gone to George has drunk two beers and was ready for a shot of tequila. He at this point is holding his liquor well. However; once the shot of tequila comes into play George succeeds in alienating his new friend. He spills salt all over the bar then begins dancing sloppily and says more than a few insulting things to his date. By the end of the evening the young lady wants nothing more to do with him. George can’t understand why.
George is in a state of denial about his drinking problem. The main issues here include the following:
- An inability to stop drinking
- Inability to see conflicts arising subsequent to drinking
- Spending excessive money on drinking to the point of putting oneself in a financially precarious position
- Jeopardizing existing relationships
- Damaging potential future relationships
- Does not correlate his poor decisions with the outcomes they procure
- Not understanding the concern those around have for him and his poor behaviour
George continues to drink excessively, regardless of the concern expressed by his family and friends. He holds that he does not have a problem and does not seek help. In the long term, George is never able to find a more secure job position or maintain a serious romantic relationship with any woman he meets. The issues here are many. George’s inability to stop drinking will also eventually erode his body functioning. This will result in a financial strain both on George, his family and society.
A powerful short story on the human mind and its ability to deny chaos, havoc, pain, trauma and the possibility of death even when faced with such seemingly overwhelming blatant facts.
Look at these types of denial and see if you can identify with any of them, even if only slightly.
Wikipedia describes 6 types of denial:
- Denial of fact: This form of denial is where someone avoids a fact by lying.
- Denial of responsibility: This form of denial involves avoiding personal responsibility by blaming, minimizing or justifying.
- Denial of impact: Denial of impact involves a person avoiding thinking about or understanding the harms their behaviour have caused to themselves or others.
- Denial of awareness: People using this type of denial will avoid pain and harm by stating they were in a different state of awareness.
- Denial of cycle: Many who use this type of denial will say things such as, "it just happened."
- Denial of denial: This can be a difficult concept for many people to identify in themselves, but is a major barrier to changing hurtful behaviours.
Maybe the way is simple, maybe the pathway to acceptance is courage, an open mind, a willingness to explore and a desire for discovery – we could utter three simple words “Is it true?”
Is it true? – So simple yet so provocative.
In looking at the above statements we could ask “Is it true?” – The first step, the acknowledgment of the truth about a situation, behaviour, ourselves, another person, a thought, a feeling, an emotion, an attitude, an addiction, an event, a circumstance and so on is the opening of the door to further insight and exploration which in turn leads to further questions clarifying the truth of something.
For example the denial of impact could be identified in an individual suffering from alcoholism –often the thought of facing the addiction is so terrifying that in acknowledging the impact the alcoholism is having on the people around them would mean they would have to face the truth about their addiction. This however is far too scary and so they deny the harm has occurred and is occurring, they deny the pain that is being caused, they do not think about it or even see it as something worth contemplating. When the harms and pains caused are brought to the attention of the alcoholic the response may be to minimise it, wave it away or outright dispute it so as not to face the reality of it. The power of the disease of alcoholism is so strong it enables sufferers to be completely blind to everything and everyone around them.
This can also be said for the family of an alcoholic, they may deny its existence or minimise the severity of it by making excuses, covering up their mistakes, bailing them out and justifying their drinking with excuses like “Oh well he’s stressed, he’s having a hard time, it was only the door that got hit so that’s okay!” Always excusing them, enabling them to carry on and denying the ‘elephant in the room’ exists.
So what is acceptance, how does it feel to be in acceptance and how can we get there?
One popular human strategy for dealing with difficulty is autosuggestion: when something nasty pops up, you convince yourself it is not there, or you convince yourself it is pleasant rather than unpleasant. The Buddha’s tactic is quite the reverse. Rather than hide it or disguise it, the Buddha’s teaching urges you to examine it to death. Buddhism advises you not to implant feelings that you don’t really have or avoid feelings that you do have. If you are miserable you are miserable; that is the reality, that is what is happening, so confront that. Look it square in the eye without flinching. When you are having a bad time, examine that experience, observe it mindfully, study the phenomenon and learn its mechanics. The way out of a trap is to study the trap itself, learn how it is built. You do this by taking the thing apart piece by piece. The trap can’t trap you if it has been taken to pieces. The result is freedom.”
Acceptance in human psychology is a person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit. The concept is close in meaning to ‘acquiescence’, derived from the Latin ‘acqui?scere’ (to find rest in).
The shift in consciousness happens the moment you say ‘yes’ to what is, because the entire structure of the egoic mind-made self lives on resistance and opposition and on making the now into an enemy. Eckhart Tolle.