This title is extra relevant because I grew up in Egypt. Thank you CR for your witticism.
Yes, I too suffer the consequences of denial. Even with my daily awareness practices of meditation, yoga, prayer, and writing, I still shut the door and put the blinders on to certain feelings. It’s not on purpose, which is precisely the tricky part of denial. It’s a subconscious defense mechanism that I learned at a young age, and may still employ if I’m trying to get through a tough time.
Because I tend to see life through rose-colored glasses (why would you not want to?), my habit is to leap frog right over “negative” feelings and get right to the good stuff, love and gratitude. That’s great, except the negative feelings don’t go away. They just get shoved in a dark corner and show up in other strange ways, such as nervous habits, body pain, and the occasional temper tantrum (ugh).
So how does one break the cycle? Perhaps the most powerful tool for me is sharing.
Yep, and I don’t mean complaining. Complaining is closed and draining. It creates blockages to truth and hides the path of recovery. Complaining will keep you stuck in negativity and is it’s own form of denial.
Sharing is open and expansive. It helps peel away the layers that pile up when you unconsciously tuck things away, so that you can get to the root cause of pain. Sharing invites change and healing. It keeps you moving forward.
Here’s what I mean. I recently developed two irritated, itchy dry patches of skin, one on either wrist. They started small, but kept getting bigger and more irritated. Sometimes I would scratch to the point of bleeding (eww, gross, I know). I’m not prone to skin irritations so I went to my naturopathic doctor, (Dr. Margaret Schenck, she’s amazing!) to see what was up.
Through her gentle line of questioning, and being in a space where I could share honestly, I discovered that the scratching was a nervous habit. I was doing it completely unconsciously, and would only realize it happening when it would hurt or bleed. In talking to her, I could see that by silencing my fear and anxiety was irritating my skin and making a small problem much worse.
Holy shizzle! What I thought was some rare skin disease was just a little dry patch that I turned into my denial hiding place. When one side got bad, I moved onto the other. I was feeling fearful, I was feeling nervous, but didn’t want to recognize it because I was also feeling super happy and grateful!
But just because you’re happy and grateful doesn’t mean you can’t also experience the other emotions that make you human. Admitting that does not make you weak. Rather, it sheds light on a real experience you are having that once acknowledged with compassion, loses its power and allows you to move forward with confidence.
Feeling our feelings IS the portal out of suffering, out of being trapped, out of bondage, out of solitary confinement, out of an unrealized life. Feeling our feelings is what will make us human. ~Mastin Kipp
As always, my body was sending me an important message and asking to be heard. So I did what I always do in these situations, I wrote. Through that process, I came to some important realizations and have since stopped scratching.
This is why I make a point of incorporating sharing time into all the sessions I have with my private clients, whether it’s yoga or Thai yoga massage. It is the nature of yoga and bodywork to open us up on a physical level and reveal hidden truths on the emotional and spiritual plain. What a gift!
The key is to not be afraid of what’s hiding. It’s the act of hiding that is destructive, while finding truth and loving all of who we are is freeing.
Take action now:
1) In the comments below, share an experience you’ve had of being in denial, and how it manifested in your body or otherwise. Remember, sharing brings healing and makes people feel less alone. Anything you have to offer is valuable.
2) In the spirit of sharing, share this article with 2 people you care about that might find freedom in these words.
Thanks for letting me share,
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