Dealing with Denial, How-to Guide

“I Will Think About That Tomorrow”  Scarlett O’Hara

Divorce_DenialWhen faced with an overwhelming turn of events, it’s OK to say, “I just can’t think about all of this right now.” You might need time to work through what’s happened and adapt to new circumstances. But it’s important to realize that denial should only be a temporary measure — it won’t change the reality of the situation.

It isn’t always easy to tell if denial is holding you back. If you feel stuck or if someone you trust suggests that you’re in denial, however, you might try these strategies:

  • Honestly ask yourself what you fear.
  • Think about the potential negative consequences of not taking action.
  • Allow yourself to express your fears and emotions.
  • Try to identify irrational beliefs about your situation.
  • Journal about your experience.
  • Open up to a trusted friend or loved one.
  • Participate in a support group.

If you don’t seem to be making much progress dealing with a stressful situation on your own — you’re stuck in the denial phase — consider talking to a mental health provider. He or she can help you find healthy ways to cope with the situation rather than trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.

If your loved one is in denial about a serious health issue, such as depression, cancer or an addiction, broaching the issue may be especially difficult. Offer support and empathetic listening. Don’t try to force someone to seek treatment, which could lead to angry confrontations. Offer to meet together with a doctor or mental health provider. If the impasse remains, consider counseling for yourself to help you cope with your distress and frustration.

Low self-esteem can negatively affect virtually every facet of your life, including your relationships, your job and your health. But you can take steps to boost your self-esteem, even if you’ve been harboring a poor opinion of yourself since childhood. Start with these four steps.

Once you’ve identified troubling conditions or situations, pay attention to your thoughts about them. This includes your self-talk — what you tell yourself — and your interpretation of what the situation means. Your thoughts and beliefs might be positive, negative or neutral. They might be rational, based on reason or facts, or irrational, based on false ideas.

About The Author

Cathy Meyer

Writer/Editor at The New York Times Company, About.com

Freelance Writer, Divorce Consultant, Marriage Educator

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