It’s almost funny how so many people can deny how they actually feel about something, or why they do the things they do. Some would say it’s because the admission of whatever reasons would be too painful to accept, or perhaps it’s simply that they are too blind to realize there are reasons behind their actions. In other cases, it might be that the reasons are so deeply buried from past experience, it’s almost impossible to dig them out. Whatever the situation is, denial is a common problem that virtually everyone deals with. It’s just a matter of figuring where your denial is most prevalent.
One of the best ways to identify denial is if you know something you do isn’t the best way to go about it, yet you will find every excuse in the world to defend that action if something brings it to your attention. If you also find yourself becoming hostile or uncomfortable when discussing a particular subject, that could be another indicatio n that some form of denial may exist.
For the majority of people who wish to maintain control of their lives, there is a common problem where it is believed that admission of one’s emotions would be a sign of weakness. Therefore, the most likely result from this type of thinking would be emotional denial. First off, one should keep in mind that without the emotions of love or attachment (which would cause someone to care about something), there would not be much grounds for getting anything done.
But if you don’t really allow yourself to feel, then you don’t have to worry about getting upset and doing something you will later regret, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. You have to consider the more negative emotions, such as anger and hate, result from love or concern. If you do not care about anything, why would you be motivated hate something or become angry? Anger and hate do not come from indifference. And of course, if you are truly indifferent, you will most likely not care to even think about or contend with a person or situation. Thus, your motivation for achieving or doing much of anything does not exist either.
Okay, so we have established why you cannot just drop your emotions, but you don’t necessarily have to be weakened by them either. You have to understand them and allow them to motivate you towards the right course of action. This can be done regardless of what the emotion is. For example, let’s say you have formed an attachment to something that you really shouldn’t have. By feeling this attachment, and questioning where it comes from, you can determine that you might have a tendency to become involved with a particular type of situation (or even a great number of them) that lead to self-destructive behavior. Ultimately, you can learn to identify your own personal foibles that allow you to be drawn into self-damaging circumstances and change them for good.
On the other side of the spectrum, an attachment can also motivate you to push on against the worst of circumstances. A good example would be the struggle for independence in any country that has fought back in the face of tyranny. The people wanted their rights, had strong conviction or belief in a way of governing themselves, and were not about to let another decide what is best for them. Love or attachment to their country and their people gave them the strength to free themselves from the oppression of others. Grief and loss can result in the same. How many times have you heard of situation where people have fought to cha nge something that was a problem because of the death of someone they cared about?
So emotions in themselves are a necessity. However, much like anything else you will learn, emotions can be a problem if they are allowed to go to extremes. When we find ourselves wallowing in our emotions, and thus act upon them without trying to assess why we feel the way we do, we usually find ourselves in a far worse predicament than we would have been had we done nothing at all. Rash measures based off of emotions can cripple us as much as apathy can. And this is the very reason why it is so important to learn how to accept and deal with your emotions. By trying to treat them like they aren’t there, as if they were not the motivation for you to act in a certain manner, you leave yourself open to unchecked reactivity. To give an example, let’s say there is a person who denies they have anger management problem. This person is prone towards explosive verbal outbursts and possibly physical altercations when their temper gets the better of them. By saying they do not have a problem controlling their temper, they are denying that there is a behavior pattern within their self that needs to be altered. Incidentally, the next time a situation arises that results in the person losing their temper, they may well find themselves in court because their unchecked anger caused them to strike someone who didn’t make a move on them first. Had the person just taken the time to accept that their anger has a tendency to get the better of them, and try to figure out why the let it do that, they might have been able to defuse their reactions at a crucial time. Thus, they would not be charged with assault and be looking at heavy fines and a potential prison sentence.
When you look at it from this angle, you can see where all emotions, be it love or concern or anger or hate, have something to offer. Denying one’s emotions only gives them an open invitation to intervene at the worst possible moments and result in making a bad situation even worse. The real weakness here is the inability to admit that you have potential flaws, which everyone has. The flaws are not the emotions themselves, but the lack of fortitude to see them for what they are and why they may be there.
When you look at your foibles in total objectivity, you would be amazed at what they can be turned into. In order to change things, you first have to admit their things that need to be changed. This is the whole foundation of improvement (which could also be the foundation of learning). If we learn to see ourselves as raw material that can be formulated into something far greater, and learn that everything that makes us who we are can serve a purpose, we can stop becoming victims of ourselves. It takes a great deal of strength to see those things about yourself that you do not wish to acknowledge. In return, you will find yourself free from the constraints of what is considered weak or strong, and learn to be your own guide as to what is right for you.