Have you seen the cartoon of a dead cow on his back, rigor mortis setting in and feet straight up in the air? The caption reads, “Really, I’m fine.” We’re all experts at denying our problems, aren’t we? We deny compulsive behavior. We deny sexual addiction. We deny anorexia and bulimia. We deny overeating and controlling behavior and drug abuse.
In Texas (my adopted home state), we have a saying about denial that’s a bit coarse, but gets the point across. “If one person tells you ‘you’re a horse’s tail’,” the saying goes, “forget it. If two people tell you ‘you’re a horse’s tail,’ you’d better take a look in the mirror. But if three people tell you ‘you’re a horse’s tail,’ you’d better buy a saddle.”
One form of denial is to change external things to alleviate an internal problem. For example, a person who overeats might lose weight, but start smoking. Or an alcoholic might stop drinking only to manifest the symptoms of a workaholic. Such a person moves from addiction to addiction, refusing to address the root problem.
Do you know the way out of denial? It’s quite simple. The way out of denial is pain. Pain breaks through the wall of denial every single time. C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers to us in our pleasures. God speaks to us in our conscience. God shouts at us in our pain. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” If there is an area of your life that is out of control, follow the pain and it will lead you to the real root of the problem. Give up denial. Only people who admit problems can find solutions.