THE BLOG
06/06/2014 02:05 pm ET Updated Aug 06, 2014

Do You Think You're in Denial?

The concept of denial is a somewhat unfortunate one. Not because people don't sometimes push things they don't want to face out of their awareness. They surely do.

But because we innocently use the concept of denial to make our mental health look like a problem.

When you're not suffering to the degree you think you should (which is the degree to which your friends, family, or popular psychology says you should following some particular circumstance), you wonder if you're in denial.

Your peaceful feelings become something to worry about. Your mental health starts to look like a lack of mental health. Isn't that interesting?

You see, old school psychology tells us that particular events are inherently stressful. They've even published lists of life stressors -- if you're experiencing any of the circumstances on that list (e.g., divorce, death of a family member, change in a work or living situation) you're most likely going to feel stress and you'll need to find a way to cope with that stress. That's what they tell us, anyway.

So when you're going through a break up and you're actually able to eat and sleep normally, you start to question your stability. Why am I thriving, you wonder? What's wrong with me that I'm feeling okay? Is there something I need to feel more deeply here? Am I in...denial?!?

I've fallen for it too. Years ago, several months after a close family member chose to cut me out of his life, I wondered why I wasn't more affected on a day-to-day basis.

I was okay after the incident. Good, even. I didn't like the situation and I felt my fair share of sadness about it at times, but by and large I bounced back and life went on.

Which is sort of awesome, right? What an amazing testament to our capacity for resilience. But I innocently made it a potential problem, worrying that maybe my grief would "find me" one day. Maybe if I went on with my life too well, I'd find myself crippled with grief at some later point.

The thing is, you feel what you feel when you feel it. You can't hurry up and feel it now so that it doesn't show up later, and there is no normal or abnormal time for any reaction you might have.

Our confusion of mental health and stability with a mental problem like denial is what we've innocently learned to do. But it's still a little nuts, isn't it?

For what it's worth and with absolutely no disrespect to the well-meaning professionals of years gone by, I call massive B.S. on those life stressors lists. Not only are external events not the least bit inherently stressful (how could they be?), there is nothing at all wrong with you for experiencing ease in the face of any circumstance in life.

If you're feeling good, consider yourself blessed... not in denial.