Recognizing denial.

Written by Lee Stevenson, sorry I am not the best editor.

Denial can cause hatred, anger, resentment and other negative emotions that will prevent us from being able to love others, God and Jesus in the way the bible would require us to. If we feel those emotions to someone and we are not asking why and addressing it then it can cause us to be stuck in a sickle of negative thinking towards others. The denial occurs when we do not want to accept the facts, information or things occurring for what they are. Or we have our own perception of what will make us happy. Where the narcissism comes in is when we ignore things, or do things to try to shape reality to what we perceive it to be instead of accepting it for what it is. We may even try to change other peoples reality to suit our needs. So denial could occur for selfish reasons also. The bible tells us we are to serve others and to view others as superior to ourselves. If we do these negative things then we will only be going through the motion in obeying the scriptures , while we are in denial our minds will be in conflict with our hearts. This causes us to have a variety of negative emotions including depression. If we experience denial and we do not address it this is when it reaches the point of narcissism and we will start to try to control people emotions for gratification and for approval, we will start to try to manipulate things to make reality suit our needs. The bible teaches us the reality of things and who to accept them , and to accept changes which may not be pleasing at first. A person in denial will go out of their way to prove they are correct and others are wrong. They will justify in their minds their actions. If we find ourselves doing this then we may want to things about why we are having such a strong reaction. When a person is telling the truth or correct they will tell the person the truth and if they do not accept it then they have the peace of knowing they told them the truth and the rest is up to them. We should not assume they are doing these things intentionally it is a protective mechanism they are trying to protect how they perceive reality or they do not want to change the perception of themselves. It takes self reflection and time for a person to realize they have certain short comings they need to work on.

(Acts 20:35) 35 I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way, you must assist those who are weak and must keep in mind the words of the Lord Jesus, when he himself said: ‘There is more happiness in giving than there is in receiving.’”

(Philippians 2:3, 4) 3 Do nothing out of contentiousness or out of egotism, but with humility consider others superior to you, 4 as you look out not only for your own interests, but also for the interests of others.

(John 13:1-11) 13 Now because he knew before the festival of the Passover that his hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father, Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end. 2 The evening meal was going on, and the Devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Is·carʹi·ot, the son of Simon, to betray him. 3 So Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands and that he came from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the evening meal and laid aside his outer garments. And taking a towel, he wrapped it around his waist. 5 After that he put water into a basin and started to wash the feet of the disciples and to dry them off with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 Then he came to Simon Peter. He said to him: “Lord, are you washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered him: “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will understand after these things.” 8 Peter said to him: “You will certainly never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him: “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him: “Lord, wash not only my feet but also my hands and my head.” 10 Jesus said to him: “Whoever has bathed does not need to have more than his feet washed, but is completely clean. And you men are clean, but not all of you.” 11 . . .

Denial is dangerous because it is a form of self deception. Denial is one of the major causes of narcissistic behavior which we all are guilty of at one time or another. So we do not want to be in a constant state of denial. When in denial we will push away certain facts as unimportant, we will try to justify things, even dismiss things entirely, we may even convince our selves that the negativity of the of matters is not as severe as they are, in other words we will thing the opposite of what is actually true. When in denial about something we become open to manipulation because when in denial we tend to not see the whole picture and those who see this know it is a vulnerability and will try to take advantage of it by doing or being what they realize you would want them to be. Those who are in denial try to reconstruct reality to what they believe it should be. This is why it is very important to let the bible guide us. It prevents us from being vulnerable and even harming ourselves or others. Denial also prevents us from growing as a person. Often times we may be in denial concerning someone we care about. We may see a short coming but are afraid to confront them about it. A true friend would not want to see someone go down this road. If they are a friends they will listen. If they do not then it may indicate they do not want to change and we should be cautious associating with them. Denial requires someone to falsely reason with themselves. If someone points out an error we have made whether correct or not we should let love guide how we respond. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous. It does not brag, does not get puffed up, 5 does not behave indecently, does not look for its own interests, does not become provoked. It does not keep account of the injury. 6 It does not rejoice over unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. 7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.) . Before responding to something that may make us feel anger, frustration, confusion, or other negative emotions we should look into God’s word. It can helps us discern our thoughts or the thoughts of others and help guide us. (Hebrews 4:11-13 12 For the word of God is alive and exerts power and is sharper than any two-edged sword and pierces even to the dividing of soul and spirit, and of joints from the marrow, and is able to discern thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And there is not a creation that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and openly exposed to the eyes of the one to whom we must give an account.) , (2 Timothy 3:16, 17 16 All Scripture is inspired of God and beneficial for teaching, for reproving, for setting things straight, for disciplining in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be fully competent, completely equipped for every good work.)

Denial can eventually lead to narcissistic behavior if we do not deal with it. A person who is in denial will try to shame or guilt the person who has caused them to face their denial, they will even provoke someone and point out another person’s short comings to try and divert attention so they do not have to face their denial, they will misinterpret events or even deny they happened. If they cannot get results then they will try to get you to question your sanity. Those in denial will play like you have victimized them. These are not the types of behavior God would want us to participate in. If we find ourselves showing symptoms of denial we should take time to think about it and ask ourselves why we are reacting in such a way. Whether right or wrong we should not be quick to take offense at something. If we do we may say or do things we should not do. (Ephesians 4:31-5:2 31 Put away from yourselves every kind of malicious bitterness, anger, wrath, screaming, and abusive speech, as well as everything injurious. 32 But become kind to one another, tenderly compassionate, freely forgiving one another just as God also by Christ freely forgave you. 5 Therefore, become imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and go on walking in love, just as the Christ also loved us and gave himself for us as an offering and a sacrifice, a sweet fragrance to God.) , (Philippians 4:4-7) 4 Always rejoice in the Lord. Again I will say, Rejoice! 5 Let your reasonableness become known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.) , (James 1:19-21 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: Everyone must be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger, 20 for man’s anger does not bring about God’s righteousness. 21 Therefore, put away all filthiness and every trace of badness, and accept with mildness the implanting of the word that is able to save you.)

Symptoms of denial, a person will become very defensive and even attack the person causing the mental anxiety, fear , or other negative emotion. When in denial you will avoid talking about something, you may justify your actions or thoughts by using other peoples behavior as evidence it is not you who have the problem, if it is a short coming you have or a bad habit you may make excuses to justify the things you do, you may become defensive and even deny a problem exist. If you do not want to accept what the reality is you may try to shame or guilt the person who caused you to go into a state of denial and even attack their short comings. Often times people in denial will blame others for their problems. When in denial you will ignore any advice or counsel from others. If a person does not want to overcome the short coming they will do little things to make it appear they are trying to overcome their denial , it is a form of deception of oneself or others. If a person does not want to overcome the denial they will develop the attitude it is my life or it is none of your business. From a biblical stand point denial is dangerous and can harm ourselves and others. Being in a state of denial about something prevents us from moving forward with our lives, prevents us from developing as a person and prevents us from learning from mistakes. After I discuss denial the symptoms and effects on our lives and others lives I will discuss how the bible would advise to overcome denial. Psychologist claim that people who do these things cannot change. This is not true there are many examples in the bible of people who have changed their life dramatically. If a friend studies their bible and you see them applying it in their lives then they can change. If we have this problem then we can seek God’s word and apply it in our lives and it can help us change. It is difficult to face our short comings or error. It requires some major changes. If a friend is facing short comings or errors we need to be patient with them being mindful if they are making spiritual progress concerning the matter. The bible tells us we need the humility to admit we are imperfect in order to overcome our errors and short comings.

(1 John 1:8-2:3 8 If we make the statement, “We have no sin,” we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we make the statement, “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us. 2 My little children, I am writing you these things so that you may not commit a sin. And yet, if anyone does commit a sin, we have a helper with the Father, Jesus Christ, a righteous one. 2 And he is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s. 3 And by this we realize that we have come to know him, namely, if we continue observing his commandments. ) ,

(Galatians 5:22-26 22 On the other hand, the fruitage of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 mildness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Moreover, those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed to the stake the flesh together with its passions and desires. 25 If we are living by spirit, let us also go on walking orderly by spirit. 26 Let us not become egotistical, stirring up competition with one another, envying one another.)

Denial is something we are all guilty of at one time or another. Whether it is denying we are wrong, denying someone is not what we thought, denying things are worse then they are, many of us “sugar coat things” . Our minds were not built to handle the things we are having to deal with including our own imperfections. The many things we are dealing with now days since we are in the final minutes of this system can be overwhelming. Denial can hurt ourselves or others, especially when we are in denial about our own short comings. So how can we recognize when we are in denial? What can we do about it? Denial is a way of coping with emotional conflict, painful thoughts, information that may change our perception of reality, things that may change our perception of ourselves, if too many bad things happen we can go into denial of how bad a situation really is in an attempt to prevent anxiety. Some believe short term denial is healthy. Denial only delays the inevitable and can harm ourselves or others because if we base decisions on what we believe while in denial we can make decisions that negatively effect ourselves or others. Sometimes pride can cause us to be in denial. Satan has ruined many lives by using a person pride and getting them to trust themselves and not look at the reality of things.

(Proverbs 22:3 3 The shrewd one sees the danger and conceals himself, But the inexperienced keep right on going and suffer the consequences.) ,

(Ecclesiastes 7:16-18 16 Do not be overly righteous, nor show yourself excessively wise. Why should you bring ruin to yourself? 17 Do not be excessively wicked, nor be foolish. Why should you die before your time? 18 It is best to grasp one warning without letting go of the other; for the one who fears God will heed them both.) ,

(Proverbs 16:18, 19 18 Pride is before a crash, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. 19 Better to be humble among the meek Than to share the spoil of the haughty.)

An example of where denial harmed myself is when I first started showing symptoms of Lyme. I would have sudden episodes of weakness and confusion. Often times I would experience symptoms that seemed like food poisoning. I would go to the doctors and they would tell me nothing was wrong and try to give me psych medications. I would not take them but they had me doubting my sanity. About 15 years went by. The whole time I believed the medical professionals had my best interest at heart and would not lie to me or deceive me. Then they gave me the Dtap vaccine. The vaccine and Lyme pushed my body to it’s limits, it resulted in me being bedridden for two years. Many of us are raised to believe things that are not true and we are even taught anyone who does not believe them are trouble makers or crazy. So we may experience denial often when things challenge our perception of reality. My denial almost cost me my life more then once. Denial can also be used when we have made a mistake and do not want to admit our error or if we have sinned. We may tend to downplay the events and even false reason with ourselves to justify our actions. Whether it be denial in secular life or denial in spiritual matters it can leave a foot hold for Satan. If we are dealing with someone who is in denial and refuses to confront it we may want to be cautious they may have a hardened heart. If we are showing symptoms of denial and we are not trying to correct it then it could bring a lot of misery and hurt on ourselves or others. When Jesus warned Peter that he was not ready for the things he said he was, Peter did not believe him. Jesus said Peter would deny knowing him. Peter did not believe Jesus and as a result he did not prepare. This resulted in Peter denying Jesus. Denial can effect our faith in God and mislead us. By admitting we have a short coming or weakness we can confront it and overcome it. We know Peter eventually overcome his short comings because he went on to do many acts of faith and to serve God with his whole heart and whole soul .

(Luke 22:32-34 . . .” 33 Then he said to him: “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 But he said: “I tell you, Peter, a rooster will not crow today until you have denied knowing me three times.”) ,

(1 Peter 3:16-18 16 Maintain a good conscience, so that in whatever way you are spoken against, those who speak against you may be put to shame because of your good conduct as followers of Christ. 17 For it is better to suffer because you are doing good, if it is God’s will to allow it, than because you are doing evil. 18 For Christ died once for all time for sins, a righteous person for unrighteous ones, in order to lead you to God. . . .

When in denial often times you may get confused or angry. You may even attack the person who has caused you to become overwhelmed or confused. It is best if you do not react immediately but to take the time to analyze things and think about what has occurred. Sometimes you will need to talk about the events that caused your denial with someone else, also seeking the help of the bible will help prevent us turning to a state of denial because God’s word helps to protect our minds. We are all imperfect, if we were not God would not of had to write his word in order to guide and teach us how to avoid errors and how to deal with them once we commit them. If you feel stuck in thought often times this can indicate denial or cognitive dissonance. This is where often times the bible can help clear things up. Another symptom of denial is a person will become very defensive and even attack the person causing the mental anxiety, fear , or other negative emotion. God’s word can help to protect our minds and hearts and prevent us from being in denial and prevent us from being harmed by someone else who may be in denial. What man thinks is right and what man things is wrong is far from what God thinks. Many behaviors excepted now days the bible warns we should not do. By letting God’s word guide us we could prevent being deceived into false reasoning with ourselves. In doing so it protects our powers of reasoning.

(Philippians 4:4-8 4 Always rejoice in the Lord. Again I will say, Rejoice! 5 Let your reasonableness become known to all men. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are of serious concern, whatever things are righteous, whatever things are chaste, whatever things are lovable, whatever things are well-spoken-of, whatever things are virtuous, and whatever things are praiseworthy, continue considering these things.) ,

(Romans 12:1Therefore, I appeal to you by the compassions of God, brothers, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, a sacred service with your power of reason. 2 And stop being molded by this system of things, but be transformed by making your mind over, so that you may prove to yourselves the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.)

As I mentioned earlier there are many things that can cause us to be in denial, something being revealed that could change our perception of ourselves or the reality of things, something we have been taught that is not true which could change how we perceive our past, we could be in denial because we realize the things we need to do may be life changing and are not ready for the changes. We could be in denial because often times people do not want to recognize they have short comings or have made a mistake. Some are in denial because they do not want to think about the reality of things. When in denial it prevents us from moving forward and from learning. It can also cause us to be angry , disgusted or even hate the thing or person who has caused the denial. So denial is a very potent weapons Satan could use against us to keep us from moving forward and keep us from learning. No matter what the cause we need to learn to accept change and mentally and spiritually prepare for it. When accepting change and adjusting to it we should not lean on our own understanding. If disciplined by an elder, a friend or even God if we accept the discipline and work to correct things it can helps us to draw closer to God. Denial will cause the heart to be somewhat hardened and we will have a difficult time drawing close to anyone let alone God. Denial can even have a negative impact on our health because by not facing our denial it causes a lot of negative emotions, and can cause us to be in stressful situations because we will not be aware of the impact of our actions on ourselves or others.

(Jeremiah 18:11, 12 11 “Now say, please, to the men of Judah and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, ‘This is what Jehovah says: “Here I am preparing a calamity and devising a scheme against you. Turn back, please, from your bad ways, and reform your ways and your practices.”’” 12 But they said: “It is hopeless! For we will walk after our own thoughts, and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of his wicked heart.” ) ,

(Proverbs 3:5-8 5 Trust in Jehovah with all your heart, And do not rely on your own understanding.  6 In all your ways take notice of him, And he will make your paths straight.  7 Do not become wise in your own eyes. Fear Jehovah and turn away from bad.  8 It will be a healing to your body And refreshment for your bones. ),

(Hebrews 12:7-11 7 You need to endure as part of your discipline. God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? 8 But if you have not all shared in receiving this discipline, you are really illegitimate children, and not sons. 9 Furthermore, our human fathers used to discipline us, and we gave them respect. Should we not more readily submit ourselves to the Father of our spiritual life and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time according to what seemed good to them, but he does so for our benefit so that we may partake of his holiness. 11 True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but it is painful; yet afterward, it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.)

So when we are in denial we need to think about it before we respond. Ask ourselves why we are not being receptive to the reality of things. Often times it helps to express your fears and emotions with someone. Try to identify irrational feelings or beliefs about things. Often times finding support groups if it is severe enough or the counsel of someone spiritually qualified can help. Most of all we need to ask God for help. Sometimes it may be difficult to ask for help from others. If this is the cause we need to ask ourselves why, sometimes our pride can get in the way.

(Matthew 7:7-11 7 “Keep on asking, and it will be given you; keep on seeking, and you will find; keep on knocking, and it will be opened to you; 8 for everyone asking receives, and everyone seeking finds, and to everyone knocking, it will be opened. 9 Indeed, which one of you, if his son asks for bread, will hand him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, he will not hand him a serpent, will he? 11 Therefore, if you, although being wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more so will your Father who is in the heavens give good things to those asking him! ),

(Proverbs 1:5-7  5 A wise person listens and takes in more instruction; A man of understanding acquires skillful direction  6 To understand a proverb and a puzzling saying, The words of the wise and their riddles.  7 The fear of Jehovah is the beginning of knowledge. Only fools despise wisdom and discipline. ) ,

(James 5:13-15 13 Is there anyone suffering hardship among you? Let him carry on prayer. Is there anyone in good spirits? Let him sing psalms. 14 Is there anyone sick among you? Let him call the elders of the congregation to him, and let them pray over him, applying oil to him in the name of Jehovah. 15 And the prayer of faith will make the sick one well, and Jehovah will raise him up. Also, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.)

If we are friends with someone who is in denial about something we need to step back. Give them time to think things over. If you try to force them to face the facts it will only confuse, frustrate or anger them more. Let the person know you are open to talking about it when they are ready. If they talk about it do not offer advice unless they ask and it should be biblical based keeping in mind the bible was written to guide us and comfort us, it was not written to use as a weapon to frighten people. The only time the bible would frighten someone is if they do not want to change. If someone made an and are trying to overcome it then they are out of denial and should not have scriptures thrown at them that would cause them to mourn or be even more sad. One of the biggest obstacles to getting out of denial is admitting we have a problem. This takes us accepting we are not perfect or have a short coming. This can be very difficult, but if we do not correct them it can start effecting our relationship with others and God. When someone is willing to admit their error or admit they are in denial we should not throw it in their face but help them to overcome it and to be a friend they can lean on and talk about it with. If we realize we have a short coming we need to talk about it and to be aware of it and do our best to not let it overtake us or put us in a position to fall short of God. When someone is overcoming a short coming we need to be patient it sometimes takes time. If we are trying to overcome a short coming we may fall at times but those who truly love God get back up and work harder to not have a fall the next time. We will experience hardship from our short comings and others. By overcoming them it can reduce the hardships impact on our lives. If a person continues in these types of behavior even after you may point it out to them and gets angry or attacks you then they do not want to change be careful associating with them.

(James 5:16) 16 Therefore, openly confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. A righteous man’s supplication has a powerful effect.

(1 John 1:8-10) 8 If we make the statement, “We have no sin,” we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous so as to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we make the statement, “We have not sinned,” we are making him a liar, and his word is not in us.

(Proverbs 24:16) 16 For the righteous one may fall seven times, and he will get up again, But the wicked will be made to stumble by calamity.

As discussed earlier there are many things that can cause denial, someone pointing out a flaw we may have which changes our perception of ourselves, life changing events such as a death or betrayal by a friend, anxiety or fear can cause denial, new information to conflict with deeply ingrained beliefs or perception of things, we may deny certain feelings to preserve our self esteem or self image, we may be in denial about past trauma and try to down play it. The most important thing about denial is recognizing you are in denial and work towards overcoming it no matter what the cause. Pride, over confidence in ourselves, not letting God guide us, and many other things can prevent us from realizing we are in denial. So we need to try our best to be humble, open minded and not easily offended , we cannot grow as a person or spiritually if we do not face the obstacles before us. Most of all seek the help of God when we are dealing with things that may be hard to accept. Most of all by overcoming obstacles it prevents our hearts from becoming hardened and we can enjoy better relationships with others including God and Jesus. By overcoming obstacles it can perfect our love and the bible tells us love covers a multitude of sins.

(1 Corinthians 10:12, 13) 12 So let the one who thinks he is standing beware that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has come upon you except what is common to men. But God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear, but along with the temptation he will also make the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

(James 3:13-4:4) 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him by his fine conduct demonstrate works performed with a mildness that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and contentiousness in your hearts, do not be bragging and lying against the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above; it is earthly, animalistic, demonic. 16 For wherever there are jealousy and contentiousness, there will also be disorder and every vile thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, reasonable, ready to obey, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, not hypocritical.

(1 Peter 4:7-9) 7 But the end of all things has drawn close. Therefore, be sound in mind, and be vigilant with a view to prayers. 8 Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins. 9 Be hospitable to one another without grumbling.

(Colossians 3:12-14) 12 Accordingly, as God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, clothe yourselves with the tender affections of compassion, kindness, humility, mildness, and patience. 13 Continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely even if anyone has a cause for complaint against another. Just as Jehovah freely forgave you, you must also do the same. 14 But besides all these things, clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union.