What Keeps Us in Denial How to Break Free

There is no way you can experience the freedom that is available to you while living in denial. Yet it can be amazing how much denial will remain in place, no matter how many times loved ones and leaders try to show us that aspects of denial are keeping us from greater healing.

What Keeps Denial in Place?

Three enemies keep the work of denial in place.

1. Pride and Stubbornness

The kickback you witness from a person in denial is a work of pride. It is driving the defensive posture that keeps manifesting. Becoming vulnerable or admitting weakness is something they are not comfortable cultivating. As a result, recognizing broken issues of the heart is resisted, because they don’t want to be seen as flawed or “less than.”

Keep in mind, below the pride are layers of brokenness that haven’t been addressed by love, grace and the healing work of God. When you experience true healing, those areas no longer become protected by walls and fortresses of denial. There is no need to.

2. Shame

Our wounds and walls are highly fueled by shame. It’s the enemy’s front line of accusation. You can feel shame all throughout your body, for it makes you feel that you are terrible and unlovable.

Shame tells you that if you face and address a broken issue of your life, it will mean you are a failure. This is why many spouses cannot admit mistakes. Shame has taught them that making a mistake means “you are a mistake,” so therefore, they become defensive. Shame keeps parents from humbling themselves and having real conversations with their children. Admitting any faults means failure in their minds. When in reality, admitting one’s faults in humility is one of the most powerful forces of healing we can experience.

3. Fear

At the end of the day, fear keeps us pinned to shame, so that our wounds and brokenness remain hidden. Like Adam in the garden, we find ways to cover ourselves and then blame others around us. In Adam’s case, he blamed his wife and even blamed God for giving him this wife. “It’s the woman . . . the one YOU gave me.”

If you find yourself blaming and getting heated in defensive reactions, you may need to address the fear and shame that keeps denial in place. The fear magnifies:

  • What people will say.
  • How they will think about you.
  • The pain of feeling exposed.
  • Feelings of humiliation.

Fear also keeps us in avoidance of facing anything painful. Many times people can get weary of the pain that comes their way. So avoidance becomes their go-to response.

What to Do:

So what do you do if you realize that you are practicing denial and need to change?

1. Come to the end of yourself.

There is very little help if you feel to keep living in your denial tactics. At some point, you need to come to the end of yourself, so that fear, insecurity and shame no longer dominate your inner narrative.

Until you come to the end of the survival schemes you live in, you’ll remain in the same ruts. But when you come to the end of yourself, you will posture your heart to lean a new pathway, one that starts with true humility.

We have to realize that the consequences and long-term pain of denial and avoidance greatly outweigh the present pain of facing the issue.

2. Humble yourself before God.

God’s healing is wide open and available to the humble, but denial will block the flow.

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”
I Peter 5:5

Humility puts the defense mechanisms down, so that God can work freely. His grace works powerfully in someone who doesn’t resist His loving work.

But it’s important to know, a humble walk before God should naturally be reflected in relationships with others. Humility before God is false if it doesn’t reflect in how you relate to people.

Humbling yourself recognizes, “I’ve got areas that need healing and growth.” We all do.

3. Connect to God’s love and safety.

Many hide in denial because they have never felt safe in relationships to process their wounds. But learning to receive God’s love and the safety of His grace can be the first place to help you break free of the walls that keep you from healing.

4. Let go of your projected image.

You may see yourself as the “good person” or the one who has it all together. You may need to confront personas that keep you from living out of your greatest power– vulnerability.

5. Allow people to speak to those “forbidden areas.”

There are people in your life that love you and have your best interests in mind. A powerful step forward is to allow them to speak into your heart without great resistance rising up and pushing them back.

This means it will help if you put down your guns. Instead of engaging conversations with your ammunition pointed, take em down and allow yourself to listen. I guarantee, someone close to you has some good insight on what would help you. But you keep blocking them with your defense mechanisms of denial.

People who live in denial are often terrible listeners. They hear you getting close to sensitive areas and they start talking over you before they hear the full context of what you can share.

6. Realize that God uses your weak areas.

People who live in denial need to appear strong. They see vulnerability as weak and unwanted. But I have learned that God will use my weak areas in some of the most powerful ways.

When you humble yourself regarding your weak areas, grace is available to work powerfully.

7. Let go of the fear of what people think.

It’s understandable that some people may think differently of you when you become vulnerable. But you cannot tie your sense of safety, self-worth and long term-health on what people think of you or how they will treat you.

If they see you differently because of flaws, that is their sin.

Of course, it is important to share vulnerabilities with safe people, but do not let the fear of what people may think keep you from pursuing the freedom available to you!