Denial can be a useful coping mechanism for difficult situations but what happens when it starts negatively impacting your life and relationships? In today’s episode, I sat down with marriage and family therapist Dr. Jane Greer to discuss how to work through denial to live a happier and more fulfilled life.
Dr. Greer shares with us how to recognize denial within ourselves and our relationships, how to gain the courage to make changes, and we even get into the interesting topic of communicating with departed loved ones. Dr. Greer is an amazing expert in so many different areas and this episode has something for everyone, so take a listen!
In this week’s episode, we discuss:
[01:42] About Dr. Jane Greer
[02:27] Dr. Greer’s journey in the world of sex, love, and relationships
[11:35] How do you know if denial is present in your life?
[15:00] Dealing with another person’s denial and expectations
[19:59] Components of denial & reaching a breaking point
[25:05] Emotional pain manifesting as physical pain
[27:22] Communicating with departed loved ones through signs
[41:10] Speaking your truth and acknowledging denial
[45:32] Dr. Greer’s favorite date
About Dr. Jane Greer
Dr. Jane Greer is a marriage and family therapist, psychotherapist, author, radio host, and creator of “Shrink Wrap”, the popular commentary on what we can learn from the trials and triumphs of relationships. Through her media collaborations and professional insight, she has been recognized as a leading national expert in sex, love and relationships.
Dr. Greer’s journey in the world of sex, love, and relationships
When she was getting her doctorate, her work was on marriage and twins. After this, she started to do a lot of different shows featuring twins which casted her into mainstream media. She started working with all different types of clients but the basis was always relationships. Dr. Greet is now an author of many different types of books which have all been brought upon by life experience.
The underlying problem that many of her patients have had is denial which is why her latest book, Am I Lying to Myself? How To Overcome Denial and See The Truth focuses on it. Denial is like the fine print that you think isn’t a big deal but it can be the most damaging.
How do you know if denial is present in your life?
Dr. Greer shares with us that the hallmark of denial is that you forget. For example, if you are living with someone who has a drinking problem and there is a big fight where you do not leave them, you’ll end up forgetting and the next time it will feel brand new. If you find yourself saying “I can’t believe this person would do this” you are in denial.
Denial is usually an unconscious behavior and we aren’t fully aware that we are doing it. It is purposeful when dealing with painful situations but not when it becomes dysfunctional. If you are unhappy and wishing someone else was different and you’re constantly dealing with the same disappointment, then it’s not helpful.
Dealing with another person’s denial and expectations
We not only have to deal with denial within ourselves but we also have to deal with other people’s denial as well. With internal denial, it leads us to have unrealistic expectations of ourselves. We believe if we try harder or work harder we will change the other person and feel good about ourselves. We deny the reality of who they are and think we can change things by being who they want us to be.
With external denial, we see this when we encounter someone with different viewpoints than ours. Dr. Greer calls this “demanders denial” and that is the other person’s expectations of you, not your own. No matter how much you do for them you’ll never hit the bar. You can spend a lot of energy trying to get a demander to see you but they won’t. You have to realize that no matter what you do you are never going to please them.
Components of denial & reaching a breaking point
A big component of denial is turning “a lot” into “a little”. For example, when you’re telling someone about the problem “a lot” of a negative behavior becomes “a little” bit of it. This is a chronic problem but it’s also very difficult to have the courage to change. You have to have the courage to trust your gut and know that you don’t have to live the rest of your life unhappily.
Dr. Greer reminds us that however long you tolerate the intolerable is how long you’ll continue to deal with it. There has to be a breaking point where your discomfort trumps your comfort. She notices that when someone loses respect for another person is where the breaking point is. This will give you the fire that you need to get out of the situation.
Emotional pain manifesting as physical pain
Both emotional and physical pain are intense. Dr. Greer notices with her clients that if the emotional pain is more than they can bear, it transforms into physical pain. This is very complex and not done on a conscious level. Celeste reminds us that if you don’t take the time to take care of yourself, your body will shut down and make sure you have the time.
Communicating with departed loved ones through signs
When completing her doctorate, Dr. Greer started a twinless twins group for people who had lost their twins and had a psychic and spiritual connection. Her mother was also sick at this time and she told her to give her a sign when she passed. Since then, she has given her six notebooks full of signs which led Dr. Greer to write her book “The Afterlife Connection: How To Communicate With Departed Loved Ones”.
She also shares that she went through a lot of denial because oftentimes people are frightened by the thought of communicating with departed loved ones. Denial gets in the way of being able to really experience coping and healing on a very powerful level.
Speaking your truth and acknowledging denial
If you don’t acknowledge denial, it willl keep you stuck and you end up being closed off to options, possibilities, and choices that could change your situation for the better. Seeing and speaking the truth is an important part of taking back your power. A sign that you are in denial is if you can’t speak your truth because you know you are going to get dismissed or blamed.
Dr. Greer’s favorite date
One of Dr. Greer’s favorite dates was the first date with her husband. They went to a concert, out for drinks, and bought blueberry muffins while walking the streets of New York at night. There was endless conversation and they knew they liked each other because of how well they clicked.
Connect with Dr. Jane Greer: