How To Spot Denial In Yourself And Others

There’s no doubt that denial can be a powerful force. It can help us to avoid difficult truths or painful emotions, and it can even keep us going in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But at the same time, denial can also be harmful, preventing us from dealing with our problems and making progress in our lives. In this blog post, we will explore the nature of denial and discuss its pros and cons.

So, what exactly is denial? In psychology, denial is defined as “a defence mechanism in which a person refuses to accept reality or facts.” In other words, it’s a way of avoiding or repressing difficult truths or painful emotions. Denial can take many different forms, and it’s often used as a way to protect oneself from feelings of anxiety or distress.

On the one hand, denial can be a helpful coping mechanism. It can allow us to ignore or downplay difficult situations and emotions, at least in the short term. This can be beneficial if we’re facing a situation that is too overwhelming to deal with right away. Denial can buy us time to deal with a problem more methodically and rationally.

On the other hand, denial can also be harmful. If we use denial as a way to avoid facing our problems, we may never actually deal with them. Additionally, denial can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as we become cut off from our emotions. And in some cases, denial can even make a problem worse. For example, if someone is in denial about their alcoholism, they may continue to drink despite the negative consequences.

Let’s explore a few behaviours of denial:

1. Ignoring or downplaying the problem

When we find ourselves in a challenging situation, it can be tempting to simply ignore the problem or downplay its importance. We may tell ourselves that the problem isn’t really that bad, or that it will eventually go away on its own. While this type of denial can provide some short-term relief, it’s not a sustainable way to deal with problems. Ignoring or downplaying a problem will usually make it worse in the long run. If you’re having trouble dealing with a problem, it’s important to face it head-on. Acknowledge the problem and its significance, and then start brainstorming possible solutions. By taking these steps, you’ll be more likely to find a lasting resolution.

2. Repressing emotions

Denial is a common defence mechanism that we use to protect ourselves from difficult truths or painful emotions. When we deny something, we refuse to believe or accept it, even though it may be true. Denial can help us to cope in the short term, but it can also lead to negative consequences in the long term. One of these consequences is repressing our emotions. When we repress our emotions, we try to bottle them up instead of dealing with them head-on. This can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness, as we become cut off from our emotions. It can also cause problems in our relationships, as we may have difficulty communicating our needs and feelings. If you find yourself repression of your emotions, it may be helpful to talk to a therapist or counsellor who can help you to deal with them healthily.

3. Rationalizing our behaviour

When we’re in denial about our addiction, we may also rationalize our behaviours. We may make excuses for why we’re continuing to do something that we know is harmful. For example, someone in denial about their alcoholism may continue to drink by telling themselves that they can handle it or that they need to drink to relax. However, these are just excuses. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that we’re only rationalizing our behaviour to justify our addiction. In reality, there’s no excuse for continuing to harm ourselves with our addiction. We need to face up to the truth and get help for our problems.

4. Blaming others

When we find ourselves in difficult situations, it can be tempting to blame others for our troubles. We may see someone else as the cause of our problems, and this can prevent us from taking responsibility for ourselves. This is known as denial, and it can be a very harmful way of thinking. By placing the blame on someone else, we are essentially giving up our power to change the situation. We are no longer taking an active role in our lives, and this can lead to feelings of helplessness and despair. If we want to make progress in our lives, we must take responsibility for ourselves. Only then can we hope to make positive changes in our lives.

5. Avoiding difficult conversations

People in denial may also avoid having difficult conversations. We may be afraid to face the truth, or we may simply not want to deal with the emotions that come with it. This can lead to further isolation and loneliness, as well as relationship problems. To avoid these negative outcomes, it is important to be proactive and honest in our communications with others. If we are worried about how someone will react to bad news, it is often better to have the conversation anyway. We can provide support and comfort to the other person, and we may be surprised at how well they handle the news.

6. Refusing to seek help

When we’re in denial about our addiction, we may also refuse to seek help. We may not want to admit that we have a problem, or we may not believe that treatment can help us. However, refusing to seek help is one of the most dangerous things that we can do. Addiction is a serious disease, and it will only get worse if we don’t get help. By seeking treatment, we can begin to heal the damage that our addiction has caused. We can also learn how to live a sober and fulfilling life.

7. Feeling hopeless

People in denial often feel hopeless about their situation. They may not see a way out of their addiction, and this can lead to despair. If you’re feeling hopeless about your addiction, it’s important to remember that help is available. Some people care about you and want to see you recover. There are also treatment options that can help you to overcome your addiction. Don’t give up hope – there is a way out of addiction, and you can find it if you’re willing to seek help.

8. Struggling to cope

People in denial often struggle to cope with their emotions. They may feel overwhelmed by sadness, guilt, or shame. These negative emotions can be very tough to deal with, and they may cause us to act out in harmful ways. If you’re struggling to cope with your emotions, it’s important to reach out for help. There are many resources available to help you healthily deal with your feelings. You don’t have to struggle alone – there is support available if you’re willing to seek it out.

9. Making excuses

People in denial often make excuses for their behaviour. They may rationalize their addiction, or they may try to justify it in some way. However, these are just excuses. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll see that we’re only harming ourselves with our addiction. In reality, there’s no excuse for continuing to harm ourselves with addictive substances or behaviours. If we want to recover, we must be willing to face the truth about our addiction. We must also be willing to take responsibility for our recovery.

10. Facing reality

Ultimately, the only way to overcome denial is to face reality. We must be willing to accept that we have a problem and that we need help. This can be a difficult thing to do, but it’s essential for recovery. Once we’ve faced reality, we can begin to seek out the help that we need. There are many resources available to help us recover from addiction, and we can find them if we’re willing to look. If we’re ready to face reality, we can begin the journey of recovery today.


Denial can be both helpful and harmful. It’s important to be aware of its effects so that we can use it in a way that is beneficial for us. If you find yourself using denial as a way to avoid your problems, try to take a step back and assess the situation. Ask yourself whether the denial is helping you, or if it’s time to face the truth. Thanks for reading!