What is holding you back?

Hello Siri.

The answer is deceptively simple and candidly obvious. Denial is what is holding you back. This is our default primal, and at times, visceral response. 

OED’s third definition states:  Psychology Failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism.

The definition is related to, but does not really explain the blurted out “No Way” rapid reaction.   I do confess to being in denial while trying to find the words to adequately express this concept.  This denial has lingered on for too long, and it has gotten in the way of other pending topics.

The Kubler-Ross model of the five stages of grief provides the best explanation. 

Denial – The first reaction is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.

While K-R is about grief, the concept can be extended to anything unexpected.   A question is asked and rejection is typically the first response.  By way of explanation, a plausible supporting excuse is provided.  
There are several positive alternative inquisitive responses:

  • Ask the Why…? question.  Be curious and seek to understand. 
  • Tell me more.
  • Explore 

When you are being denied, pause to give the other person space to THINK.  The primitive brain – amygdala survival response is doing the denial.  By pausing for a moment, the executive brain – neocortex takes over and provides a more thoughtful response. 

That’s all I have for right now.  I have started reading Shankar Vedantam’s book – The Hidden Brain.  Our hidden brain is typically responsibility for our irrational reactions.  

As always, Stay Tuned. 



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