Reclaiming Your Authentic Self by Becoming Trauma-Informed, PART 5
It has been my life experience that the single greatest killer on the planet today is denial. It permeates every aspect of life and it is always at the central core of all life problems. Denial of this truth itself is why no one is talking about or dealing with it. Therefore, becoming an expert in your denial and self-deception is the most important skill you need to learn if you want to overcome The Worst Day Cycle. By doing so, you will have a profound impact on your healing journey.
To recap, The Worst Day Cycle is initiated by trauma in childhood, which creates a fear-based emotional chemical addiction. Due to our lack of Emotional Mastery, we develop a shame-based, self victimizing false persona in a misguided attempt to regain our lost inherent power. To protect us against the emotional reality of the pain in childhood and loss of self, we collapse into denial. The denial of these truths guarantees that the cycle will repeat itself.
How Denial and Self-deception Operate
- 1. As a species, we must attach to another human being or we will die. Because our parents are perfectly imperfect and human they hurt us. To attach and survive we create a false self. We had no choice, our life depended on it. The role of the false self is to minimize, suppress, repress, condone, justify and deny that our parents hurt us. We create this lie to forge attachment with them. We subconsciously fear that if we accepted the truth, we would lose their attachment and die. Even if we are aware of their imperfections, a false attachment seems better than no attachment. That furthers our defiance to admitting how they hurt us. Our inability to live in truth affects every single adult decision for the rest of our lives until addressed.
- 2. We then blame, judge, and criticize other people, places, and things. We do this so that we don’t have to admit the part that our shame-based false persona played in setting up our own self-victimization in our adult life struggles. There is an added benefit to our self-deception. It shields us from having to face that we created a false self and therefore, we don’t know who we really are.
Society And Brain Design
- 3. Society and brain design also play a role in our self-deception. For centuries, science and society have incorrectly denigrated and downplayed the importance of emotions in our life and intellect. For one, we now know that emotion precedes all thought. That means Emotional Mastery is essential to intellect. Secondly, the logical left side of the brain becomes myopic and shuts out truth unless it confirms its current belief. Conversely, the emotional right side’s ability to include context and diverse options makes for a more complete, and precise intellectual thought and decision. In short, the more emotionally developed a person is the better their thoughts and decisions. Interestingly, because of brain design, these facts will quite often be denied even by those that have made the discoveries in the brain.
- 4. The combination of The Worst Day Cycle, societal beliefs and norms, and the brain’s design proved to be a formidable adversary to our reclaiming our authentic selves, accepting and loving our perfect imperfections, and achieving our personal potential.
A quick reminder. We are not to blame for doing the best we could with the information we had, AND we are responsible for letting these truths in and doing the work to collectively heal The Worst Day Cycle and reshaping societal norms and beliefs.
The Three Main Ways Denial Shows Up
1. The fear of success
- Make sure to catch up on the previous articles to learn more about why we have a fear of success, not a fear of failure. We fear success because of what we have to give up. We developed our self-victimizing false persona to attach. To succeed we would have to stop hurting ourselves and relinquish the self-victimizing false persona. That subconsciously feels like a loss of attachment to our caregivers. Additionally, we would also have to admit we don’t know who we are. True success is the ability to walk in who we authentically are. To do so would require the death of the false attachment and the false self. To avoid this we most often procrastinate. When did you last procrastinate? How many excuses did you use to put off doing something? That is a denial of your authentic self! We don’t want to face the truth that we are re-victimizing ourselves by not taking the action we need to achieve our goals. What we’re afraid of is letting go of the false self that we think we are. Studies show that we lie to ourselves 10-200 times a day cycle. The self-deception we use to avoid achieving our full potential through procrastination is a primary way we do this.
- In part, codependence is a denial of responsibility that allows us to stay the child. We stay the child by blaming others for making us think, feel, or do things. In reality, nobody makes us think, feel or do anything. In particular in relationships. We put the blame on the other person and rarely take enough responsibility for our own actions. While I would never condone a person’s poor treatment of another, the only way a relationship happens is when we allow the person close to us. Therefore, if that person mistreats us, we have to ask ourselves, what attracted me to this type of hostility? Most of us do not know that answer because society has not taught us how to find the answer.
- When a person understands The Worst Day Cycle, they will see it all correlates back to the unhealed pain in their childhood. They literally chose this person to help them see what pain from the past they need to heal so they can reclaim their authentic self. We demonstrate this codependent denial of personal responsibility in our reaction to compliments and criticisms. Many people find it very difficult to accept compliments and may even become defensive. Compliments don’t make us feel, think or do better. They only have an effect if we decide they match our own personal truth! Do you see what that means?
We Cannot Accept a Compliment
- We cannot accept a compliment because it goes against the messages we received as a child. To accept the compliment we would have to be a traitor and drop the false self that we created for attachment. Criticisms match the personal truth our caregivers placed in us that we are trying to suppress, repress, minimize, condone and deny. We lack awareness that our defensiveness and hurt feelings are about the carried shame from childhood. Instead of admitting it is our childhood experiences that created these feelings, we protect the false attachment bonds we created with our caregivers and project the hurtful feelings onto the person in the present. This is at the heart of the current cancel culture and its efforts to demonize speech. They are unaware that they are projecting their unhealed shame and denial codependently onto the world so that they can stay the child. They are yearning for all of us to be the loving parents they never experienced. The fact that we can’t accept compliments demonstrates how detached the cancel culture is from their authentic selves. For if we were living in our authentic selves, we would be able to hear and accept compliments and recognize criticisms as the other person expressing their unhealed shame and denial from their Worst Day Cycle. We would not allow another person’s pain to corrupt our personal truth!
- 3. Whenever we judge, blame, hate or criticize any person, place, or thing, we are always talking to ourselves. It might be true that those people, places, or things are doing what we are critiquing but the only reason we can see it in them is that we do the exact same thing either directly or indirectly.
It is like watching a 3-D movie without the glasses. We have basic ideas of what is going on because we have watched a movie before but since society has not taught us Emotional Mastery or The Worst Day Cycle, we can’t quite remove the distortion from the screen, things are a bit fuzzy. What we don’t realize is we are noticing these things in the other person so that we can ultimately reclaim our authentic selves and forgive ourselves for the part we have played in our misfortunes. They don’t need canceling, they need thanking and embracing for teaching us about ourselves. When we learn how to confront and heal our shame and denial the glasses appear. We then see these truths clearly.
Let me share with you how I discovered this process.
One day I was driving and as I sat behind a car that wouldn’t turn left, I began honking and yelling ‘I hate stupid drivers!’
After a bit, I paused, regathered myself, and queried, ‘Kenny, this is about you’.
At the time I denied the truth. I screamed out, ‘but I don’t drive like them, I would fricking turn!’
But, I remembered that everything is emotion-based, not thought-based, so the fact I didn’t think that I drove like them was irrelevant. Instead, I turned my focus to the emotional content of what I was saying about the drivers – ‘I hate stupid drivers.’
I then broke the words down emotionally and how the words I was choosing actually reflected back onto myself.
’I hate’ is a descriptor of how I feel about myself for what I am doing. My judgment, blame, and criticism was calling the other person ‘stupid.’
I was trying to tell myself that I hate myself for being stupid.
The Worst Day Cycle
Now the real work began. As a child, where did I get sent the message I was stupid? Without hesitation, my mind flooded with direct and indirect messages from both my dad and brother. Those messages left me with the impression I was stupid. To this day cycle, feeling stupid is the worst thing I can feel and it carries the deepest shame. I then looked over my life at all of the ‘stupid’ decisions I had made to re-victimize myself and confirm the false persona that I was a stupid person?
I have struggled with multiple addictions, two divorces, in one of those, I stayed even after being physically and verbally abused, a bankruptcy, playing two pro sports I never wanted to play, and countless other ‘stupid’ decisions before spending three days cycle contemplating taking my life.
It was a penny drop moment and I laughed out loud when I realized, no wonder I think this driver is stupid, I must be the dumbest person I know. Is that true, am I stupid? Of course not. I had spent a life doing the best I could with the information I had at the time. Science, society, and parents never taught me about The Worst Day Cycle or specifically about denial so I had no idea how any of this works. I was just doing the best I could with the information I had at the time. The blessing is that I was now in truth. I could see myself, my authentic self clearly. I am just perfectly imperfect, I can now forgive myself and no longer hate myself or carry the false persona of being ‘stupid.’
The Worst Day Cycle
There is one final step to your judgment, blame, and criticism – look for the metaphor. Do you see the metaphor? I displaced and projected my vitriol onto other people’s ‘driving’ because I couldn’t ‘drive’ my own life. I was living in a false persona. It had me making life decisions that worked against me and not for me. Because I was not present in my own life I was not ‘driving’ my life.
When you confront and conquer your denial you discover the glasses and reclaim your authentic self. This is an act of maturation and re-parenting. You no longer need to be codependent. You have found how to provide the nurturing your perfectly imperfect parent could not provide.
To learn more about this piece specifically, watch the video ‘How to turn any insult into a blessing.’
You can also find the accompanying article on my blog.
The Scales of Injustice
All of these create what I call the scales of Injustice. On one side of the scale is high denial, on the other is low self-esteem. The denial side is nearly breaking the scale in all of our lives because what is denial? A lack of truth – we don’t want to admit that our parents hurt us, that we don’t know who we are, that we have created a self-victimizing false self, that the criticisms are true, that we don’t forgive ourselves. You can’t have high self-esteem if you have high denial because you are not living in truth. We all live with a false attachment mechanism designed to get our parent’s approval. Its role is to protect who we are from coming out and jeopardizing everything we have falsely created.
If you’re struggling and you feel as though it still hasn’t sunk in, perhaps you’re still not ready to admit your perfect imperfections and put the 3-D glasses on, then listen to the words of Byron Katie who says,
‘Notice how often you defend yourself (with words, actions, the way you dress, your tone of voice) and how stressful that can be. What impression—what “you”—are you trying to hide or strengthen? Whom are you trying to convince?’
Pia Melody says this, ‘It is tempting to avoid our accountability for having erred in a relationship when we can hide behind something of which we are innocent—using the innocent part to divert attention from the guilty part. That is at the crux of the problem.’
We are Denying
We must own the parts of ourselves we are denying – this is the key to healing. If you feel anger when reading this, look at what truth you’re trying to hide from yourself? You’re doing the best you can but you must take responsibility for the information you have now gained. You can now choose to do the work or to stay stuck.
Beverley Engel says it this way, ‘When we continually blame someone, we stay stuck in the problem instead of focusing on the solution. It is also important to realize that blaming someone is different from requiring the other person to take responsibility for his actions.’
Gaining the glasses to watch your 3-D movie properly means becoming an expert and developing the knowledge, skills, and tools of Emotional Mastery, and conquering the four elements of The Worst Day Cycle; trauma, fear, shame, and denial. Only then can we live in truth and only then will we have self-esteem. Only then can we admit our own perfect imperfections and forgive ourselves.
The Brain’s Design & How Society Keeps Denial and The Worst Day Cycle Alive
We have two hemispheres – left and right. All information comes into our right hemisphere and it sends it to the left, and the left sends it back. Take playing an instrument, the left filters and sorts all of the information that the right gathered. The left should then send the information back, but this doesn’t always happen.
This is why Ian McGilchrist’s book says,
‘The right hemisphere’s view is inclusive, it sees context, options & solutions. The left hemisphere’s view is exclusive, analytic, and fragmentary – but, crucially, unaware of what it is missing. It, therefore, thinks it can go it alone.’ ‘In terms of the metaphor of the Master (the right) and his emissary (the left), the Master realizes the need for an emissary to do certain work on his behalf and report back to him. That is why he appoints the emissary in the first place. The emissary, however, knowing less than the Master, thinks he knows everything and considers himself the real Master, thus failing to carry out his duty to report back. A sort of stuffing of the ears with sealing wax appears to be part of the normal left-hemisphere mode. It does not want to hear what it takes to be the siren songs of the right hemisphere, calling it back into reality. The left hemisphere blindly pushes on, always along the same track. Evidence of failure does not mean that we are going in the wrong direction, only that we have not gone far enough in the direction we are already headed.’ ‘Even WORSE! The left hemisphere is not keen on taking responsibility. If the defect might reflect on the self, it does not like to accept it. But if something or someone else can be made to take responsibility – if it is a ‘victim’ of someone else’s wrongdoing, it is happily prepared to do so while being convinced that it is righteous!’
These are the people who are spearheading cancel culture – they are stuck in the left hemisphere, exclusive and fragmentary, and crucially unaware that are abolishing inclusivity, options, and solutions. They are completely blind that they are headed in the wrong direction.
As McGilchrist goes on to say,
‘Emotion and the body are at the irreducible core of experience: they are not there merely to help out with cognition. The feeling is not just an add-on, a flavored coating for thought: it is at the heart of our being, and reason emanates from that central core of the emotions, in an attempt to limit and direct them, rather than the other way about. The feeling came, and comes, first, and reason emerges from it: Even the prejudice we have in favor of reason cannot itself be justified by reasoning: the virtues of reason are something we can do no more than intuit.’
In other words, the virtues of reasoning come from feeling. Cognition, rationality, and logic emanate from intuition and emotion. If you’re not learning Emotional Mastery or how to conquer The Worst Day Cycle and are simply listening to the left hemisphere, you’re not going to improve, you’re going to keep going in the wrong direction.
Why Do We Keep Doing This?
Scientists’ reliance on the left hemisphere even when they know the left hemisphere is prone to denial! This is why I’m not a fan of cognitive-behavioral therapy. CBT attempts to minimize and suppress emotion, rather than sharpen and enhance it to the detriment of us all.
As Bessel Van Der Kolk points out,
‘We now know that there is another possible response to threat, which our scans aren’t yet capable of measuring. Some people simply go into denial. Their bodies register the threat, but their conscious minds go on as if nothing has happened. However, even though the mind may learn to ignore the messages from the emotional brain, the alarm signals don’t stop. The emotional brain keeps working, and stress hormones keep sending signals to the muscles to tense for action or immobilize in collapse. The physical effects on the organs go on unabated until they demand notice when they are expressed as illness. Medications, drugs, and alcohol can also temporarily dull or obliterate unbearable sensations and feelings. But the body continues to keep the score.’ “The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.”
The medical community lies to itself with grave consequences for us all. For example, physicians are not trained to know that our emotional health impacts our physical health the most. If we were to ask ‘How was your childhood?’ before prescribing pills, we could help people heal the source of most medical problems, rather than simply attempting to medicate the symptoms away.
Our health is an emotional problem, our politics are an emotional problem, our relationships are an emotional problem, and our world is an emotional problem.
This is not about blame; it is about truth and responsibility. We can only do what we know and since the vast majority do not know any of this information they are just doing the best they can. But, for those of you who have made it this far you are now responsible. You now have the information you never had. You can continue in denial and ignore the truth, stay stuck as the irresponsible codependent child or you can take ownership and put a plan in place to make a change within yourself. Your personal change will have the added benefit of facilitating a change in all of those you come in contact with. If you choose not to do so, you are responsible for those consequences. Even if your false self and left hemisphere try to convince you otherwise.
If you feel you are ready to re-parent yourself, heal the pain from the past, love and accept your perfect imperfections, and reclaim and forgive your authentic self, I have created several steps to achieve that. But to be clear, this is not a journey for those who are getting ready to be ready. This is a journey for those that are sick and tired of living below their potential, and are desperate to become their best self. If you are ready for this journey, take one of the steps below.