Observing human behavior indicates that it is easier to choose to remain in a state of denial than to confront an unpleasant truth. This appears to be true for the individual and for groups of people.
Yet, “staying the course” by refusing to admit one is on the wrong path is, as they say in military circles, reinforcing failure.
One may ask: Why are humans obstinate when it comes to admitting failure or admitting mistakes to themselves?
This may be due to our concept of ourselves. We often identify very closely with our choices, and with the groups we interact with. We invest a lot of emotion in our decisions. And, these decisions to a certain extent define us. Thus, to question our decisions involves a certain emotional discomfort for us. When group behavior is the issue, we risk alienating ourselves from the group if we too loudly question the group’s actions.
When the rational side of our mind is telling us that the course we are on is a bad one and we need to change course, the emotional side of our mind provides resistance or inertia to making the course correction. My point here is that there are times in our lives when we really need to rein in our emotions and set aside our pride and stop harmful behaviors.
People think of addiction as being limited to drugs, alcohol, gambling and the like. Yet, any behavior pattern that is not under one’s conscious control may be thought of as a form of addiction. The person that keeps gravitating to abusive relationships can be thought of as suffering a form of addiction (perhaps of masochism or self punishment). One can be addicted to being an enabler or a co-dependent.
The price or cost of not confronting unpleasant truths about ourselves, of not changing course when that is indicated is much unnecessary disappointment, loss and misery. Perhaps the biggest mistake is not correcting a mistake because one chooses to remain in a state of denial.
As responsible individuals, we must not let group think or group acceptance dominate our decisions. There may be strength in numbers, but groups of people can be wrong.
Let me cite an example of group think being harmful to individuals. (This is just an example as this post is not intended to be political.) Black Americans overwhelmingly vote for the candidates of the Democrat Party. This is common knowledge. The irony here is that the Democrat Party’s policies do not help Black Americans. We have 50 years of recent history on this. To raise this issue in the black community is tabu. For the few blacks who do question this unquestioning allegiance and loyalty to a party that has not helped them, there is ridicule and ad hominem attacks from other blacks. (When I wrote on this specific issue in the summer of 2012, I concluded that radicalized thinking is not rational thinking.) Groups do demand a certain conformity and therein lies the danger.
Dear readers, I have been guilty of not confronting unpleasant truths constructively at times in my life. Putting off the recognition of bad decisions or flawed courses of action can and does make things worse. Sometimes, being constructive means cutting off the destructive as soon as possible to minimize the harm and the hurt and the loss.
Our feature image above is of a nightlight above material (fabric) placed on the carpet. The effect achieved is eerie.
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