Denial and Self-Deception


“Human beings cannot bear much reality.”

–T.S. Eliot

This quote came to mind as I pondered some of the recent events in my own life and some of the people I’m close to, and as well as what’s going on in the world.

Being a total idealist, I have always looked at possibilities and would strive to make them happen.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think it’s one of the approaches that got me through my childhood. I never lost hope that things could be different. I sought that “different” and usually found it.

However, the downside is that I would often turn a blind eye to “inconvenient facts” that I just didn’t want to face.

This is human nature. It is something I think we need to be aware of, and deal with.

round red and white Trust signage

Photo by Bernard Hermantb

Because it’s dangerous.

It’s dangerous, for instance, to ignore persistent physical symptoms and not seek appropriate medical attention. 

(Not that I run to the doctor for every symptom. I usually try to find the emotional or spiritual source and address that with my energy healing tools, which given a little time usually takes care of the matter. If it doesn’t, I seek medical attention from doctors I trust.) 

It’s dangerous not to face serious character flaws in someone you might consider marrying. Blind trust is still blind.

And it’s especially dangerous not to acknowledge our own limitations.

We’re seeing this writ large in some of our leaders right now, no? The implications of denying what is truly going on can affect a lot of people.

man in black shirt holding womans hair

Photo by Osarugue Igbinoba

It seems to me that self-deception and denial of reality then lead to deceiving others. I saw this playing out in family dynamics when I was trying to settle my mother’s estate.

Jesus said before you try to take the speck out of someone else’s eye, you need to acknowledge and deal with the log in your own eye.

So I’m taking a hard look at some of the ways I may be ignoring salient but uncomfortable  realities in my own life. Like how much time I spend on the Internet, when I need to be dealing with the responsibilities in my real life.

Like the way I tend to push myself, even when I’m tired.

Like the way getting sucked into the news affects my nervous system.

I can get angry at what I see happening in the world. My judgments require me to point the finger back at myself, and deal with my own denial and self-deception.

And then what I need to do is pray that God will shine his light into the darkness I see in myself and others.

Life-giving light prayer

Jesus did imply that when you take the log out of your own eye, you can and should try to take out the speck in your brother’s eye.

But you can’t do it until you yourself can see clearly.

Lord, increase our capacity to bear much reality. 

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