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In Defense of Denial

By Sophia Dembling

Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy. — Kurt Vonnegut.

Ah yes, the little white lie. I’m all for it. You’re haircut looks great! The party was a blast! No, I don’t mind doing you a favor at all!

Life is indeed nicer with harmless untruths like those.

But this quote also makes an argument for what I think of as benign denial.

I grew up in a family mired in unhealthy denial, which convinced me that denial must be avoided at all costs. Denial can be a terrible problem. It keeps people in unhealthy relationships, reassures them that lung cancer only happens to other people, causes financial ruin, and all kinds of other bad things.

But  there are other kinds of denial that are no big deal.

3 Comments to
In Defense of Denial

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  1. great post. i’m working on the same stuff—learning when to keep my peace, not automatically bring up whatever i’m thinking, not trying to fix… everything. it seems to me that the saving grace of getting older is learning nuance, finding the brakes, not having to struggle so hard to control… everything. maybe growing up in a chaotic environment nudges us toward a need for answers, resolution, certainty.

    anyway, thanks, i love this piece.

  2. Good article!
    My motto since retiring from being a counselor….
    “If it’s not your business, don’t make it your burden.” (unknown)
    And “Never offer advice unless asked” (me)
    Difficult at times to do this after a lifetime of being valued for and getting paid to ‘help’. But for the most part it’s a huge relief.

    • A huge relief—I love that, Barb. It is, really, when I can relax into it. So far I’m not so good at that, but I’m working on it.

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