When coping with an injury, denial can be remarkably unhelpful.
by Alison Bonds Shapiro, M.B.A. in Healing Into Possibility
Originally published online by Psychology Today
The first reaction of many people, myself included, when faced with a major injury is: “It didn’t happen to me.” This is often closely followed by: “If it did, it’s not so bad.” Somehow if we say it didn’t happen, it won’t have happened or at least, if it happened, it won’t be as challenging as it actually is. Denial may be our first defense against catastrophic change, but when it comes to dealing with an injury, denial can be remarkably unhelpful.
The doctors and therapists who work in rehabilitation are quite aware of this tendency. One of the first things required of a person who goes into an acute rehab facility is to start doing things for themselves. This makes it harder to deny the change that has occurred. Is this cruel? No. It can be psychologically painful but it is far from cruel.
When we are injured, the only way, literally the only way, to find the path to healing is to start from where we are. The sooner we take a hard, unafraid look at the reality of the situation – the sooner we strip away denial – the sooner we can begin to work. And the more we know about our injuries, the less likely we will be to do ourselves further harm when we do work.