Reality is always imperfect and often disappointing when compared with our expectations, if those expectations are rooted in the illusion of perfection. Life is not perfect and never will be; to expect otherwise is to set oneself up for disappointment. We cannot change reality, yet denial allows us to control the narrative, even when we may not be able to control what specifically happens to us. Even when the narrative is a negative one, such as when we perceive ourselves as having been wronged or hurt, denial lets us always be right. Reality forces us to face difficult truths and accept the world as it is. Denial gives us an illusion of power, because we can avoid dealing with our own problems or those of the world. The fact is though, we are merely only delaying the inevitable; reality always catches up to us, and sooner or later, we have to deal with it. It is always so much worse when we don’t face it head on.
On the topic of reality versus denial, Anne Wilson Schaef writes:
“Letting go of our ability to discern reality is one of the characteristics of addiction. As well-known psycho-therapist Marion Woodman says, “In addiction, you create a fantasy and try and live there. So often, we women who do too much are gullible on a very deep level. We want to believe what others tell us, and we do not want to have to be on our toes all the time. As a result, we often feel resentful and sad because we find ourselves dealing with illusion and not reality. It’s not that we don’t perceive reality. We do. We just don’t want to have to deal with it. We would rather complain and be hurt. We can always see fantasy when we take off our filters. And reality is always easier to deal with than fantasy in the long run.”
There is a fine line between reality and denial. People are funny, too, because when you pay close enough attention, you begin to realize that our words rarely ever match our actions. You can learn a lot about a person by simply observing them. People often will say what they want to believe or what they want others to believe, but actions are much more revealing of a person’s true intent. While we can deny the truth to ourselves and others all we want, our body language will usually give us away.
It’s understandable that we turn to the fantasy of illusion over the harsh reality of the world. We want to believe the best in people, including ourselves. Denial helps us avoid pain and other unappealing emotions or facts, if only temporarily The consequences of our actions always catch up to us eventually though. When we avoid negative emotions for too long, when we push them down and ignore them in our denial, they only grow stronger. We are simply putting off feeling pain until a later date, at which point it will be significantly worse than if we had simply faced it head on to begin with. The sooner we deal with problems, the sooner we can move on to more pleasant experiences. Reality doesn’t simply go away just because we choose to ignore it. Denial is not a cure to reality; it’s an escape from it. Eventually we all find our way back to the truth, in one form or another. It’s easy to find if we look for it.