Denial and Letting Go

"Denial" is not just pretending something didn't happen, but also the refusal to let it go.
We can be "in denial" about ourselves AND about things that happened to other people, and things about other people.

When we're in denial, we are trying to throw something away, bury it, so we don't have to actually DEAL with it. That means we didn't do anything with it, and we're not letting it go, we're holding on to it.

For example a person may be in denial about their own alcohol use; they are avoiding the subject altogether, even with themselves. They're allowing their brain to pretend it's a "non-issue", because if they acknowledge it, then they'll have to LOOK at it, and feel the emotions that they've been avoiding, and then probably have to make bigger life changes. They would have to deal with why they're using alcohol in the first place, which is probably what they're really avoiding.
If it's because they don't know how to deal with a painful relationship, then acknowledging the alcohol use would mean they would have to also acknowledge that they're in a painful relationship, and therefore might need to either end the relationship, or work on themselves and come to grips with the fact that their partner is not the sole "problem". In order to "let it go", they would first need to admit that it exists.

A person can also be in denial about bad things that happened to other people, or good things about other people. Ironically, people who are in denial are usually the ones lecturing others to "Let It Go!" What they're really saying is "I can't handle it, I don't want to deal with it, cover it over with sand, blot it out so I don't have to look at it." Being in denial about something that happened to someone else means WE are the ones who aren't "letting it go", not the person who's talking about it and trying to deal with it.

When we refuse to acknowledge and let go of something that happened to someone in our circle, we are helping to delay their recovery, and thwart their resolution.
It's like hiding a piece of rotten food that they're trying to find and throw away. THEY want to find it and get rid of it, but we're hiding it, pretending it doesn't exist. In the meantime because we refuse to acknowledge it and bring it out into the light of day, it's growing more and more rotten, fermenting, stinking up the whole house. We keep denying it, and the other person keeps bringing it up, trying to find the source of the smell.

What do we do then? We BLAME the person for it! We continue our denial by refusing to acknowledge that we are the ones who refuse to let it go, who refuse to bring it into the light. We conveniently "FORGET" how the fruit went rotten in the first place, and that WE were the ones who hid it.
And then we still refuse to admit that we're holding onto it, and keep blaming the person who's trying to find it and deal with it, so the stench gets worse and worse until the person finally just gives up and LEAVES. Then we say something like "They just didn't want to deal with their own problems... that's why they left, they're so self-centered."

The human capacity for denial can be truly astounding.

We can also be in denial about the good qualities, skills, talents, and accomplishments of both ourselves and others.
Why would we do this? Simply because they don't fit in with the story we've created for ourselves to live in.

If Sarah has written her story so that Jeff is the best mechanic in town, then John can't be. and definitely not Susan. In Sarah's story, only men can be mechanics, not women, because that would mess up the other story lines. Like how the reason Sarah can't fix her own car is because she's a woman. If SUSAN can do it, then that storyline would have to be rewritten, and it can't be, because Sarah has it tied in with the rest of her story. Like why she needs Jeff, why Jeff is an important person, and why she went to college to be a teacher. (She doesn't like kids, she wanted to teach because she wrote in her story that women are naturally good teachers, and that if you're a teacher then that makes you a good person, and also that women "have to" do certain kinds of jobs because they "CAN'T" do the other kinds of jobs that men do.)
That's Sarah's STORY, not reality, and she does not want to have to rewrite any of it, because that would mess up the whole fantasy.

When others around Sarah write similar stories to hers (because they grew up inside of other people's similar stories), they compare them and confirm with each other that they're "true" and "correct". So when something or someone comes along that CONTRADICTS how they've written their stories, they try to delete the information, shut it down, bury it, or reject the PERSON. Because it's much easier, THEY believe, to deny information that doesn't jive with their story, than to deal with it in a mature way, and risk having their stories exposed.

To put it simply, anything that doesn't match the story is thrown out. Deleted. Yes, our brains DO "write" our reality, and constantly edit it. Our brains do it continuously, whether we believe it or not. When we blink, for instance, our brains fill in the blank spot from when our eyes were closed, and we think we didn't miss anything. When we hear something we don't think is true, we usually forget it immediately, even if it WAS true. If we didn't fool ourselves into believing that we're actually safe on this planet that whips around the sun (a giant fireball) in the middle of space, with debris whizzing toward us constantly, we would probably never leave the house, or not have enough confidence to build a house in the first place.

So when we don't want a certain person to be GOOD at something, or get CREDIT or RECOGNITION for something, or be knowledgeable about, skilled at, or experienced in something, it's because it would mess up OUR OWN fictional story line about OURSELVES.

It's the same reason we deny bad things that happened to them, or when we deny things about ourselves. If we acknowledged them, brought them into the light, and let them go, we would be giving up "control" over our own fictional story lines about ourselves, and that is terrifying to some people. Without their fictional story line, they fear they'll be accountable, held responsible, have to do more work, or might not keep getting the respect and credit they're used to getting. So they will do pretty much anything, mental somersaults, in order to keep their story line going, and not let anything "mess it up", like actual reality.

So the next time we catch ourselves telling someone "why don't you just let it go?!" we may want to remember the rotten fruit we've hidden under our bed or in our closet. When we tell someone else to "let it go", we're really telling them to stop bringing it up so we don't have to deal with it ourselves, and admit that it's true. WE are the ones who "won't let it go", because we don't want to admit that we're holding it and hiding it in the first place.