Culture,Life & Love

LIVING IN DENIAL…. Life of an Ostrich


 “The human mind has a primitive ego defence mechanism that negates all realities that produce too much stress for the brain to handle, its called DENIAL”…..  DAN BROWN in Inferno.

 As the saying goes …. The Ostrich instinctively buries its head in the sand hoping that the trouble in the form of a pack of Hyenas passes it by. It may be a myth. However, the truth is that the Ostrich takes care of its eggs that are buried deep in the sand. But upon understanding the myth, the Ostrich goes into a state of denial, programming its mind to ignore the coming danger.

Consider the human mind; we all know that death is impertinent and will happen to everyone at some stage of life.  It is the most fundamental truth of humankind, and we all know it.

But do we think about it all the time? NO, we don’t.

We don’t want to take the stress of believing that one day we will leave everything and just vanish. Living with the lurking fear of death would have prematurely killed us and pushed us into the dungeons of melancholy and depression.

To counter this menace of despair and helplessness; we developed the weapon of DENIAL.

No man is more prideful than he who believes himself immune to the dangers of the world.

In the famous comical series of Asterix and Obelix; the Gaul Village Chief, Vitalstatistix fears nothing, not even Romans, but the sky, falling on their heads. Denial, knowing that the sky will never fall on the head.

We sleep at night with the notion of self-programming of events that are going to be accomplished the following day. We endeavour to keep an eye out for any unforeseen atrocity or brutality.

Denial is a critical part of human coping mechanisms. Without it, we would wake up terrified every morning about all the ways we could die or be injured.

*People will not go on the roads out of the fear of accident.

*Mothers will not send their young children to school for fear of injury.

* No one will board a flight or train for the fear of a crash.

* No one will eat out, for the fear of being poisoned.

 Etcetera ……

Imagine a world of constant fear and mental chaos. We will do nothing and sit trussed in a cosy corner of our premises. We will land in a mental state and be crazy.

Hence, our minds have been equipped to block out our existential fear by focussing on the stresses that we can handle. We developed simple tasks and daily trivialities that took us away from the greater tension of the moment.

A study has revealed that even highly intellectual users display an instinctual tendency towards denial. The vast majority of students, after clicking on a depressing news article about some impertinent catastrophe, would quickly exit the page in favour of something trivial that purged their minds of fear. They started to watch comedy stand up or even Walt Disney shows.

A majority of the television and moviegoers avoid viewing bloodshed, molestation and extreme devastation resulting in death and misery. Our minds are not prepared to see the other side of the truth, which is gruesome and pathetic.

Our psyche is tuned to only feel happiness and joy. We shove our attention when we see a dead body procession. We don’t allow our young children to go to funerals.

But the flip side is that you can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another. There is no point in using the word ‘Impossible’ to describe something that has clearly has occurred.

“Denying the truth doesn’t change the facts”.

A person suffering from a terminal disease cannot go into denial and run away from the suggested surgery, chemotherapy and the coexisting expensive treatments.

Ignoring these signs may land you in the wrong destination.

“The people who live in Denial will paint a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light.”

*A chain smoker lives in Denial after accepting that he may land with lung cancer.

*A Drunkard lives in Denial of believing that he may end up in Cirrhosis of the Liver.

*A sex worker lives in Denial about sustaining AIDS.

*Thousands of young children go to school, alone, on bicycles because their parents are in Denial about accepting that it is too risky and dangerous to ride in the chaotic traffic.

We shut our minds and live in the present and become blind to the impending murky future.

Someone rightly said, “I wonder which one is harder, accepting your fate and living with it or living in Denial the rest of your life.”


Then there is SELF-DENIAL.

The act of not having or doing the things you like, either for moral or religious reasons or because you do not have enough money. You tend to sacrifice your own desires.

Self-Denial can constitute an important element of religious practice in various belief systems.

People denounce Food, Clothes or even follow Celibacy, and crush their basic instincts at the alter of strict Religious fanaticism and dedication or even forced Self-Denial because of penury and poverty.

Particular rejection of the pleasures of the world, like avoiding drinking, smoking, watching movies or surfing the internet or cell phones is called Practising Self-Denial, a kind of ASCETICISM.

Self-Denial has a POSITIVE and NEGATIVE side to it.

Fasting is Positive as it may improve your health in some situations. There is Inhibitory Control and Emotional Self- regulation. Scarcity can lead people to focus more on enjoying an experience that increases happiness.

In the COVID times of lockdown and financial devastation; people have learned to live and find joy, in scarcity and with the bare minimum of resources.

The Negative side is that the person holds back happiness and pleasurable experiences from oneself that is only damaging to other people and their families.

 “To regret one’s own experiences is to arrest one’s own development. To deny one’s own experiences is to put a lie into the lips of one’s own life. It is no less than a Denial of the soul”…..  OSCAR WILDE








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  1. Harsh Vardhan says:

    “Hi Anuj, I like your post. It is thought provoking.
    “Death is impertinent ” is remarkable and true. Still people are not affected may be because ostrich attitude is an easy way out😄😄. You are very right, living in denial consciously will be for some good.Isnt it remotely connected to sacrifice or rather vairagya.Vairagya is important, indulging in the worldly activities with detachment ( आसक्ति के बिना) brings the much required discretion. Then one does not get blinded by greed or fear in conducting oneself.
    But then self denial by blocking the subconscious mind is foolish. It is like creating a make belief situation oblivion of the realities. May be due to short sight or too lazy to think more. I think these are the ones who believe in luck or are in awe of others on the basis of some weird imagination.
    You have put down the inevitable hazards of unclear vision.😊😊

    1. Dr. Anuj says:

      very rightly said Harsh. But I feel that there is a difference between Denial and Detachment. Denial is day to day and Detachment takes a serious turn, as you rightly said.. vairaagya. At some stage of life, the feeling of detachment seeps in, all by itself. I will refer you to read my recent blog on ‘being comfortably numb’. you will get my answer…
      Thanks a lot for your input. Regards.

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