Understanding Denial

People in denial often state their denials in this form: “I’m not ___” or “I do ___,” when in fact they are ___ or they don’t ___. For example, someone might say, “”I’m not the kind of person to find fault” when in fact they are always finding fault with others, or “I always tell the truth” when the truth is a rare thing coming from them. These statements often accompany the action they are denying. For example, someone might say, “I’m not the kind to find fault, but didn’t you think that Suzie’s dress was a bit lacking in taste for this event?”

The reason for this is often that they are in denial about that aspect of themselves; in fact, that is exactly what denial is: Saying that something isn’t so when it is, or saying something is so when it isn’t. And yet some healthier impulse urges them to state the denial as its opposite, giving them a chance to look at what is inside, and giving others a heads up about what is really going on. If others hear someone starting to say, “I’m not the sort to find fault, but….”, then they know that whatever follows is almost certainly the person finding fault with someone, and they also know that almost certainly finding fault is a characteristic of that person.

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