“Denial is not just a river in Egypt!” A phrase I often hear Americans say, it kind of makes me chuckle as the river Nile in Egypt is a beautiful metaphor for denial or as the fancy pants psychologists call it “compartmentalization.” I am not sure what the exact story is, but the pollution of the Mediterranean Sea needs to be washed away by the river Nile. And when the water is low, the Nile becomes toxic and this endangers the drinking water supply. The metaphor couldn’t be more perfect as it relates to denial or compartmentalization.
Life happens, and we do stuff we shouldn’t be doing. Not just for months, but for years to a lifetime. I am a master at compartmentalizing my eating habits for instance. I knew fully well what I was doing for many years, but in denial I was slowly sinking to the bottom of the river (Hah!) So at one point in my life I became toxic and became ill. I lived as a recluse in my nice home, which I bought with my corporate job money at age 27 … because a toxic person needs a 4-bedroom house with 2.5 bathrooms, and two yards all to herself. This house is still a burden on my financial back, as a symbol of my denial. I was in denial about my life. The pollution of my body, my mind, and most of all myself, caused a shut down. I successfully poisoned my own drinking water. My life. My health.
Then I stopped being in denial. See, I have a special talent … that is denial. Denial is a safety net. It can be a beautiful thing. Because when things are too tough to bear, when things are so emotionally overwhelmingly painful, denial bails our asses out. We can breathe in and in out, and remain alive. And cope. So the same compartmentalization that got me into my polluted hole helped me get out of the hole by simply being in denial about the odds of people with the illness I had, close friends dying of mental illness, parents in a divorce, and a court case that had my financial future at stake, as a woman diagnosed as sick for life who would never work again. I chose to be in denial here too. I ignored all that and decided to lose weight, walk (which was exercise), and build my own company: A new life.
So denial is a good and bad thing, I guess. But how do you turn off the bad denial, and just turn on the good denial? I don’t have a picture perfect answer. But I do know that the bad denial slipped into poor living and poor lifestyle, and I gained some of my weight back over the last years. See it would be nice to say that it was all unconscious, but I know I consciously made it so. And a close friend didn’t mince words with me either as to what drain I was circling.
Denial got me in a sling many times. But I keep taking what is a wrong turn on the denial, and then turn it into a right. That’s how I survive sometimes. Whether that being toxic family members, shitty friends, shitty jobs, educations, lovers, business partners, co-workers, and employees, shitty choices in travel, ludicrous decisions like “I am going to travel in Cambodia, a country at war, where the foreigners were evacuated OUT. Because when my number is up, it is up.” I wasn’t planning on going to Cambodia, but that statement of the evacuation that the US embassy was organizing made me go. One illegal border crossing later, 2 Khmer Rouge attacks, a speed course in how to shoot a Kalashnikov, an ankle ripped in 3 places, a smuggling convoy later, I made it out. Hopping … in denial over my ankle. I am intentionally omitting some stuff here. But I could be living inside a Cambodian jail right now. Where I would have a break down, write my memoirs and be a hero. Or simply dead as a doorknob. Denial is not a river in Cambodia either. So … no memoirs. I can live with that.
A lot of people stop being in denial when they end up on the floor. Like me. Where it comes to poor life style this is cancer, a heart attack, diagnosis of diabetes, or a condition of some sort. The breakdown causes a break through. But some kind of terminal scare is a little much, wouldn’t you agree? And how many years of feeling yuck and fat must precede that?
So it is about a creating a breakthrough earlier, before there is a breakdown. I see people intentionally having unintentional breakthroughs all the time. They decide they want to learn NLP or coaching as a skill. That is the intentional piece. The unintentional thing that happens is that the trainer has something extra in mind. The student for a brief moment stops being in denial, does exercises using NLP. A break through then happens. The break down is not required, solutions come a heck of a lot easier when you are still far away from the drain instead of right in it. Think of a giant bathtub the size of a pool. On the other end of the pool tub, the pull of the drain is less than if you are right in it. When you are near the drain then there is only one place to go: in it. Or swim hard. But what if you don’t have the energy to do so then? As you are unhealthy and out of shape?
A person doesn’t need to do an NLP training or circle down the tub pool to have a break through. Just set the intention to stop your negative denial, stare it right in its ugly face. Not by yelling at yourself, but in compassion and love for yourself. Then start to do a transformational process with tools you never used before, help you never had before, or even with a group.
I am 3 days before what I view as a 30-day learning process. A 10-day cleanse using the VitalChew products everyday, then 20 days of every other day. So what are these 3 days about for me? To step out of the bad denial and get ready for learning first, transformation second. I know that stepping into the process will do that.
Above this post is a video of how I do that. I have used this process on other large goals too. Out with the denial that doesn’t serve you. In with the denial that deletes the difficulty that comes with breakthroughs and the process that it brings of work. Below is a condensed version of some of the things I then do.