serene ambition™

transforming the culture of aging

Denial

Posted by Jim Selman on 10/30/06

Being objective about yourself is extremely difficult and rare. That’s why denial is normal, even inevitable. The real problem happens when you deny that you are in denial. That’s when you can begin to believe your own point of view, which can lead to a terrible case of self-righteousness. So how do you know you are in denial when you are in denial?

I’ve learned through my own experience with various ‘isms’ that there is only one possible way of knowing… and that is to try on the point of view that you are indeed denying whatever it is you are being accused of or are thinking about for yourself.

For example, if you think there’s a possibility you might be living in a state of denial related to your own age and aging process, then you could assume the point of view—try it on as ‘truth’—that you’re in denial. When you do this, you can then begin to listen and observe yourself from a different context.

When I try on this point of view, I see the rationalizations I use for my choices. I see myself using age as a justification or explanation for everything from sore joints in the morning to going home early from a party. When I was younger, I went home early because I was drunk. Now it’s because I am getting older. When I had sore joints in the past, it was because I hadn’t exercised. Now it’s because I am not as young as I used to be. From this point of view, I can even observe my own subtle resistance (“I don’t have too many wrinkles yet”) and my habit of comparing myself with others my age (“Well, at least I don’t look as old as they do”).

© 2006 Jim Selman. All rights reserved.

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