The power of Denial. Is there any effective way to confront it, deal with it?

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all4peace

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Denial keeps coming up in threads. There's one about conflict avoidance. I just started one about my uNM's ability to not even obey the natural laws of thermodynamics. On this forum about PDs, denial comes up constantly. I'm seeing so much lying and denial in our politics right now. It's starting to really shake me, this growing clarity that healthy and functional lives have a foundation of honesty, and really even the fabric of society depends on honesty, and yet this thing called Denial is powerful and fairly prevalent.

What happens when we are surrounded by lies?

How can we effectively cope with denial?

How do we live functional lives with other humans when our 2 options seem to be silence or pointless confrontation (since it is always met with denial)?

Have any of you found things to do or say that took away Denial's power? Because, really, if someone can stand in front of us and deny things that are patently obvious and provable, what do we have left to make our point? If Truth isn't strong enough, then what do we have left? I truly cannot think of anything besides walking away and refusing to deal with that person.

One time, when uNBPDmil was totally denying factual statements I was making to her (literally things DH and I had overheard her saying about me), I told her that if we weren't going to have an honest conversation, there wasn't a point in having one at all. It's not like that transformed her into an honest person, but at least it allowed me to end the conversation and, in my mind, acknowledge the pointlessness of continuing one met with total denial. I don't really know how else to deal with denial.

Any thoughts or advice? Insights?

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gary

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I truly cannot think of anything besides walking away and refusing to deal with that person.

Hi all4peace

I have found that the word and effect of "Denial" is the least understood and has been given a much lower number on the scale of seriousness than it deserves.

It seems to be so simple because we define it as a obvious truth vs an obvious untruth.

To those who suffer from real clinical denial it's much different. To them it's their actual reality vs what someone else is trying to have them believe it's not.

It's like and as real as you open the door and invite them in and they see a tiger snarling in the room and you try and have them believe there isn't one and it's safe to come on in even though in their mind they see that tiger staring right at them.

On top of that they probably have a very long history even before we met them of trusting the other person only to be attacked by that tiger.

I do not know of anyway any of us can convince them there is no tiger in the room when to them they have the scars to prove their might be.

I got so frustrated years after my brake up that I wrote a poem called "Denial" and it's to be read in a frustrated tone.


Denial

 You skip across life
 like a stone on a pond.

 Just touching both sides
 not knowing either one.

 Not learning how to swim
 not learning how to fly.

 Just left to the ways
 of a little childís whims.

 The bottoms where youíll live
 till the pond recedes

 Covered with silt
 and last yearís leaves.

 Thereís no way out
 for a rock like you
 cept to savor that moment
 those brief times you flew.

 So much time to pass
 till stone turns to sand
 but then little childís whims
 has turned into mans.

 Then what do you hope for?
 so scattered and small
 slipping through fingers
 or used in a wall?

 That it rains so damn hard
 that the pond overflows
 that maybe just maybe
 an oyster will know.

 That youíll be of some value
 around somebodyís neck?

 One chance in a billion
 is that what youíll try?

 Or learn how to swim

 And learn how to fly.


" A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.

Believe in yourself ".


Josh S hipp

www.gawalters.com
http://gawalters.com/blog/

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tommom

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I don't think we can, all4peace. I finally have come to the decision (or conclusion), like Gary, that it is simply their reality. Their 'reality' is what they say it is, period. That means they can simply tell you that you are wrong about whatever they choose. Even when you aren't. I think it's part of the lying they do, too. My h lies about the smallest, nuttiest stuff (think the "bats*^t" columns).

I do, however, think it may also be a tool of control as well. Denial for my Nh can get me to do things, since he doesn't want to do (denial) what he needs to. He's sick and he just spent three days in the hospital because he won't do the things his doctor says. That's denial, for sure, but it also is upping the ante, I fear, to make me take better care of him. Really possible, I think. That makes me say your' refusing to deal with that person' might be a very good diea.

And nice poem, Gary. Thanks.
"It is not my job to fix other people; everyone is on their own journey."

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gary

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Hi tommom...I agree.

In the mix also is in my opinion another term that we don't understand the full force of..."Black & White" thinking....to the extreme.

I think many of these especially maybe with BPD (which is mainly what my experience was with) actually live in a false self and that must be protected by all cost or to them they will no longer exist and will have to find another "self" to live in.

So to them in this argument or discussion of who is right and who is wrong isn't like 2 people that don't possess a PD might have. One of them can finally realize they were mistaken and admit they screwed up on the topic being discussed.

To them in extreme B&W thinking it would actually mean to them that not only were they wrong that moment but now it has to mean they have always been wrong and always will be.

That's way too huge of a thing to believe and admit to themselves.

Some of these terms to us are just words that we read but to them are real facts of life they live with every moment....Not making any excuses because they don't live in a vacuum....just maybe some reasons.  ;)


When anyone over protects themselves you can really ever get close to them.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 09:13:18 AM by gary »
" A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.

Believe in yourself ".


Josh S hipp

www.gawalters.com
http://gawalters.com/blog/

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gary

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I hate to use the word "Interesting" because I know how frustrating it is and how much it hurts......but when your past all this stuff it is interesting how it all plays out and you can kinda follow it in a straight line..

Like to try and explain denial and b&w thinking.

How possible in these situations would it be for them to convince you at that moment that your reality is all wrong and that theirs is true....Not much of a chance because we believe so strongly what we see as the truth.

So that's when the tool "Gaslighting" can come into play and just maybe we will start to doubt ourselves... It's another self protection tool they may have and use...if not they may just run away rather than admit failing. To them then they didn't really fail....they just decided to quit.   :unsure:

What I'm not sure of and it's probably a mix and not an absolute is just how much of those three terms and the acting out on then is actually a cognitive thing or just unguided, panic extreme self protection. :blush:
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 09:35:02 AM by gary »
" A bird sitting on a tree is never afraid of the branch breaking, because its trust is not on the branch but on its own wings.

Believe in yourself ".


Josh S hipp

www.gawalters.com
http://gawalters.com/blog/

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DancingRain

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I cannot think of anything more frustrating than denial.  My npdh does this frequently.  I do not know how to set a boundary with this.  It literally becomes he said/she said. 

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SaltwareS

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I really found the concept of "covert aggressive" helpful. It was written about by George T Simon in "In Sheep's Clothing" and also "Character Disturbance."

So the way I simplified it is:  a covertly aggressive person will keep the truth "softened up" with a lot of lies all the time, and be a moving target, a whirlwind you'll struggle to pin down. The person's brain is "aggressive" at revising history, recent history, a conversation 10 minutes ago, into a version of history that is more flattering to themselves. They are blatant and it becomes a habit if they get away with it for as long as they do.

So what do we do? Write down the truth of what is going on. In a journal or in a file. On an ongoing basis. Some people keep lists of changes happening around them so that this "aggressive lying" way of life does not become normalized in their own brain, and they maintain their sanity.

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VeryUncertain

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So what do we do? Write down the truth of what is going on. In a journal or in a file. On an ongoing basis. Some people keep lists of changes happening around them so that this "aggressive lying" way of life does not become normalized in their own brain, and they maintain their sanity.

I've been doing that for years and it hasn't helped.  I've found that when they're denying, they believe they're "telling the truth."  In my experience they think lying is ok because they believe everyone else does it, it's just that they are unable to PROVE that others lie, or that it doesn't matter if they lie because they believe unequivocally in the underlying scenario which their lies support.  If you contradict them, for instance by quoting what they said in an e-mail a few years ago, then it's YOU are lying and you're doing so just to hurt them.

The strength with which they cling to denial is truly impressive.  When confronted with documents they "don't remember."  Or just change the topic.  I've shown them newspaper articles that definitively show what they're saying is false and it has no effect on their position at all.

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waking up

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I think when you are guys are using the word denial here, you really should be using the word lying . I thought denial was the term used to describe our own internal denial of truths we didn't want to accept.....example - we deny that someone is being abusive and instead we place the blame on ourself.

But what youre describing is just plain lying. It's people who know what the did but  they just want to accept responsibility for their actions, so they pretend they didn't do it.

They aren't "in denial" ... they KNOW they did it, they just seem to think that if they lie about it long enough,,that you will accept their lies as the truth. I think the only thing they are in denial about is other people's intelligence and the fact that we are smart enough to realize theyre lying.

But is there actually any real denial going on here? Do you believe that these people really don't remember doing the things we know that they did?

I have wondered about this because my exh would claim no memory of certain events he didn't want to explain, and he even tried to claim the event must have been so traumatic his mind blocked it out.... but that was a total lie. He would suddenly "remember" parts of the event when it served his agenda.


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waking up

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Saltwares
The description of the covertly aggressive person really fits my ex H. Which was why he got away with lies for so long...he constructed  a carefully woven tapestry of little half truths, that I wasn't allowed to question.

The original question of how to deal with it...
If it's your spouse doing it, there is no "dealing"...all there is is accepting the fact that they are doing it and that's the way they are and always will be.

If it's other people in your life , what I've done (after I realized what was happening) is just firmly  stating that they are wrong - that their version isn't the truth, and dont bother trying to argue with them. They will NEVER admit to their lies, even with the proof staring them in the face.

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SaltwareS

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Quote
I've been doing that for years and it hasn't helped.  I've found that when they're denying, they believe they're "telling the truth."

Write things down for your OWN truth - not to try to convince them! If you have enough leverage then sure, enforce the truth, but write down things to keep your head straight - "no it was not my imagination, my mom promised to pick me up from swim practice today. Later she said she never promised it. I am not crazy, I just live with a liar/denialist!!"

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all4peace

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I think when you are guys are using the word denial here, you really should be using the word lying . I thought denial was the term used to describe our own internal denial of truths we didn't want to accept.....example - we deny that someone is being abusive and instead we place the blame on ourself.

But what youre describing is just plain lying. It's people who know what the did but  they just want to accept responsibility for their actions, so they pretend they didn't do it.

They aren't "in denial" ... they KNOW they did it, they just seem to think that if they lie about it long enough,,that you will accept their lies as the truth. I think the only thing they are in denial about is other people's intelligence and the fact that we are smart enough to realize theyre lying.

But is there actually any real denial going on here? Do you believe that these people really don't remember doing the things we know that they did?

I have wondered about this because my exh would claim no memory of certain events he didn't want to explain, and he even tried to claim the event must have been so traumatic his mind blocked it out.... but that was a total lie. He would suddenly "remember" parts of the event when it served his agenda.
I think we're talking about denial, lying and more.

I think my DH's parents are in total denial over the state of their family. I think they lie about some of it, ignore some of it, and are in denial about the rest.

I think my uNM's brain is so warped from years of being a likely PD that it literally reprocesses things in her mind to protect herself from the truth.
I also think she bald-face lies.
And I think her denial is massive and makes her unable to confront the amount of damage she has done in other people's lives.

I think it's a tangled web that is really hard for me to sort out at times. I don't think there's really ever a way of knowing for sure.

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waking up

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I still think they are bald-faced lying. They don't want to admit to something so they lie and hope we will believe them. It's cruel and abusive treatment...after years of being gaslighted  I won't call it anything else but lying.

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VeryUncertain

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I think when you are guys are using the word denial here, you really should be using the word lying .

I think of it as using lies to deny.  The denial part is saying you are wrong.  The lies are how this position is supported and maintained.  Part of it is internal -- they refuse to see themselves as flawed, so anything that might seem a flaw is denied.  Part of it is external -- they refuse (or are unable) to recognize anyone else's perspective as having any validity because they want to deny any obligation, guilt or shame.

The internal process I've observed in them is not rational, in that they allow themselves to believe that some really bad thinking is valid, and, of course, they reject any demonstration of that failure of rationality, since that would be a flaw. They believe that they think rationally, and see attempts to show them this is not so are just attacks -- you're calling them stupid.  So if you point out a false equivalence (e.g. the fact that I'm not perfect doesn't mean that I'm not allowed to ask for things.) they get angry.

The result is always anger, denial and more lies.  Part of the failure is the idea that since you're attacking, lying is ok, because you're just being awful / saying awful things and so they can say or do whatever they want to defend themselves.  Of course if you point out something is a lie, then you're attacking again.

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waking up

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The way I see it, denial is when you deny the truth to yourself when the truth is something you are unable/unwilling to face at that point in time.

I might keep denying to myself that I've gained weight, and then I finally weigh myself or put on clothes I haven't worn for a while, and then I have to accept the reality. Or I've seen people deny the reality that their loved one is dying, and they keep believing they will get better. It's not the same thing as lying.

Lying is maliciously doing and saying things to hurt other people. When your cheating spouse insists that you're paranoid and suspicious and he fabricates a story to explain his behaviour, he is not in denial. He knows the truth and he knows he's wrong, and he knows he's hurting you, he just doesn't care.

Lying is malicious. Liars usually have some agenda -they are trying to get away with something or to look good, and they don't care who they hurt in the process.

I think the original post asks what can we do when people who are blatantly lying deny their lies. What I've discovered is that they will never admit to those lies, even with evidence, and it isn't because they are in denial of what they've done. Sometimes these people will admit to and brag about what they got away with, in private with their flying monkeys.

There's no internal denial in most cases, only maliciousness.