denial, lying, marriage, couples, relationships, relationship, love

Accepting reality and acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses is essential for personal development. By denying or distorting reality, individuals may miss opportunities for growth, self-improvement, and reaching their full potential. So lying to ourselves definitely stunts our growth.


Accepting reality and acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses is essential for personal development. By denying or distorting reality, individuals may miss opportunities for growth, self-improvement, and reaching their full potential. So lying to ourselves definitely stunts our growth.

Everyone uses denial….I’ve always laughed out loud at the expression “You can go a week without sex but not a good rationalization.” We use denial to get along with others. We all use denial to cope with the anxiety of knowing our death is inevitable. We all use denial to ignore our body does better with exercise, we use denial to eat exactly what we want or to continue to smoke because cigarettes are soothing. We deny the reality of potential harm because of the short term satisfaction. Think of the colleague at wok who always spins the story of why others get a raise or are promoted or your friend who reads too much into simple acts of politeness as indicating deeper romantic feelings. We all make too many excuses for ourselves! We all swim in the sea of denial!

There was a 1997 study by Johnson & Ross of 80 participants that found greater self-deception predicted worse problem-solving and greater hostility which would certainly impact relationships.

A 2011 study by Chance et al found that “People often rationalize their questionable behavior in an effort to maintain a positive view of themselves…a mistake that can prove costly in the long run.”

One of the things I tell my clients who are dating is to be aware of someone who lacks self awareness, it’s one of the 25 things to be on guard for on the dating page of my website When individuals are in denial about their own bad behavior, shortcomings, or the impact of their actions on others, it can lead to a lack of accountability and difficulty in building trust with others.

Honest and open communication is vital for healthy relationships, and self-deception can hinder the development of such communication. I’ll never forget the sense of betrayal one man had when he discovered the woman he married had kept secret her 100,000 dollars of credit card debt.

It was Mark Twain who said “We do not deal much in fact when we are contemplating ourselves.” Accepting reality and acknowledging one’s strengths and weaknesses is essential for personal development. By denying or distorting reality, individuals may miss opportunities for growth, self-improvement, and reaching their full potential. So lying to ourselves definitely stunts our growth.

Growing up is honestly facing painful situations. We have to be willing to be uncomfortable & face that wince at recognizing the dark side of who we are in order to evolve into being better people. Denial prevents us from taking responsibility for ourselves and interrupts personal growth.

Denial is sneaky, self deception is a tricky business. We deeply want to be better people than we are. When someone loses a job I always ask what have you learned about yourself…facing the music is how we grow & improve. When one partner is full of blame for the other partner, we are pretending it’s all about them.

Denial is just one way to sidestep shame. Shame is one of the biggest obstacles to growth. We tend to get stuck in shame or shove it fiercely out of the picture. Shame is problematic in the extremes ignored or drowning in it. Shame is supposed to be a pinch of recognition that you done wrong to help you decide to do it differently next time. I was watching the Israeli show Fauda on Netflix & finally in Season 3 Doron recognizes he pushes so hard in dangerous situations that he contributed to his team member’s death & he stays on his farm for 2 years instead of being on his team.

Lying to ourselves is exhausting. It keeps us trapped in bad habits. The hard work of looking at ourselves & facing that wince of seeing our own ugliness is so worth it. Our relationship with ourselves improves when we know the good & bad of who we are & we are better friends & partners when we are willing to grow up. Therapists who are best help you face hard truths about yourself.

Dr. Jane Greer is a Marriage and Family Therapist, Psychotherapist, Author, and Radio Host of the Doctor On Call Show at featuring Shrink Wrap, Pop Psych, and Let’s Talk Sex: conversations about love, work and life. Her Shrink Wrap brand focuses on the trials and triumphs of relationships, with a spotlight on
what we can learn from the celebrities. Her newest book is AM I LYING TO MYSELF? How To Overcome Denial and See The Truth”. Dr. Greer is recognized as a leading national expert in sex, love, and relationships. Her website is

So please share your perspective on Denial

Dr Jane Greer (01:07.431)
Well, denial is a necessary part of life. Without it, none of us would survive. It is the brake lining for pain. It cushions us from devastation. It helps us cope and survive. However, it’s all a question of degree. And when it becomes excessive, when we are engaged in denial to block out all the pain that we would otherwise have to confront,
and deal with directly, it becomes problematic because if you don’t see reality, you’re not able to make choices about it, you shut out options for handling it, and you leave yourself vulnerable to the demands and needs and extortion of other people.

Rhoda Sommer (01:59.046)
I love what you said about the brake linings. I think that’s such a great description. I had a friend who was dying of AIDS and I was talking to him about how it’s a job and he has to take it seriously. And he looked at me and he said, Rhoda, denial can be useful. And it was.

Dr Jane Greer (02:04.915)
Thank you.

Dr Jane Greer (02:20.251)
Exactly that. You know, but it’s so true. I mean, there are times when we know we’re lying to ourselves, and we say, you know what, I’m not getting on the scale. I know I gained three pounds from the last three days of eating, and I just don’t want to see the ugly truth, so to speak. But with that being said, denial becomes the Houdini of the heart. It’s an escape artist, and it makes you escape the pain. But if you don’t feel the pain,

you don’t know what’s going on. It’s like if you don’t know your tooth is hurting, you don’t go to the dentist to get it fixed and where it may begin as a little cavity, if you don’t deal with it, you suddenly need a tooth pulled. And that’s a whole process. Then your teeth start to shift if you don’t take care of it, way more expensive. If you don’t deal with the immediate situation and cut through your denial, your denial will cut through you.

Rhoda Sommer (03:16.93)
Hmm. Choicefulness about how you use it and self-awareness sounds key.

Dr Jane Greer (03:24.179)
Absolutely. And the tricky part is that we have a certain awareness of it, and it’s a question of how far do we let our denial lead us into the forest. Because once you get into the forest where you can’t see the forest for the trees, you’re in too deep.

Rhoda Sommer (03:45.398)
That’s true, absolutely. So I loved your definition of many people who are the stay stuck complainer, which might fit someone’s partner or friend. Please share with my audience what this means and what to do about it, because their denial is a burden upon the relationship.

Dr Jane Greer (04:07.063)
You said it, Rhoda, let me say, ironically, I think everybody knows a stay stuck complainer and they tap into your heart and your desire because you want to help them. You want their lives to go well. You want them to have the things that they say they want.

And all they do is complain about what isn’t working, what didn’t work, what’s not working, what went wrong, what should have happened, how unfairly they’ve been treated, why things are so hard. Everything is a litany of injustice and complaining. And invariably, what they trigger in nine out of 10 people, if you’re listening to a stay stuck complainer, you wanna make it better for them. So you jump in with.

Well, you know what, why don’t you try this? Or why don’t you do that? Or why don’t you go here? Or have you tried that? And they are not in any way, shape or form prepared to, ready to or about to make any changes. All they are doing with you is what therapeutically we call, as you would know, venting. They just want to vent. They just want to vent their distress. They just want to vent their frustration. They just want you to hear.

how hard it is for them. And then that’s it. So after 45 minutes, an hour, you come away absolutely like, you know, dragging a ball and chain, depleted. You could be wrung out from the angst that you now have and they are lighter, they feel better. They got it off their chest. Till the next time they call to complain, or if you’re out to dinner or lunch with them to hear the complaints. So.

The essential thing if you’re dealing with a stay-stuck complainer is to be very aware of it, number one. Do not offer advice. Do not jump in with, try this, have you done that, you could do this. And if they ask you for advice, duck and just go with the empathy and the feelings of how hard it is for them. Oh, I really hear that you’re struggling. I know you’re having a difficult time. I wish it was better.

Dr Jane Greer (06:19.503)
You know, maybe one day things will change. And the other important key ingredient is be prepared so that before you get on the phone or engage with a stay-stuck complainer, that you know your time limit and your timeline, and you inform them. So you say, look, I’ve got 20 minutes, let’s have a conversation, and then I have to hop, I have an appointment, I have a date, I have, I have. And when you get into about

19 minutes you say, listen, I wish we could keep talking. Another time I’ll call you back or when I have more time on the table, I’ll reconnect or call me in a few days, but I have to go. And then the most important thing is disengage. Do not wait for their approval to say to you, okay, because they will not. They will keep on talking. They will ask you another question.

They’ll circle back to, but what do I do? And try and reel you back into, tell me what to do. So you must have the clarity of how much time you’re prepared to spend and devote and share because you care. And then put your limit in place and disengage.

Rhoda Sommer (07:38.546)
Mm, I like that. I really do. I think it’s terrific advice. One of my favorite quotes is from Carl Whitaker. Hope is often disappointment delayed. Please tell us how denial is fueled by wishing and hoping Dr. Greer.

Dr Jane Greer (07:40.061)
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Dr Jane Greer (07:57.247)
Yes, you know Dionne Warwick sang it wishing and hoping and dreaming and praying that everything was going to be alright. Look wishing and hoping is What keeps so many people? stuck

Rhoda Sommer (08:12.059)
I agree.

Dr Jane Greer (08:12.683)
in a relationship that is going nowhere, from early dating to you’re with what I call in my book, a go nowhere guy into a go nowhere relationship, into a relationship that is really mired in conflict or problems or difficulty. Alcoholism, you know, and it doesn’t have to be so severe. It can just be chronic fighting or

you know, a behavior that is so distressing that it’s like having a splinter daily that you can’t get out. And it hurts every day. So the wishing and the hoping is when people stay rooted in their fantasy of who they wish this person was. And that’s the denial that blocks out who this person really is. And so

They say to you, you know what, I’m not going to spend any more money or no, if you’re dealing with somebody who’s overweight and they have a heart condition or an illness and they need to modify their food, they say, all right, I’m not going to eat that anymore. And then you go out to dinner and they’re eating, you know, the burger and the fries. And they will say, I won’t do it again, you know, and you’re wishing and hoping next time it will be different.

And the most important thing when you’re wishing and hoping…

You completely wipe away. It’s like a blackboard where you have the eraser. You just erase reality. So when it happens again, it’s a whopping surprise. You’re completely surprised by it. You didn’t expect it. I mean, you wished and you hoped it was gonna change. You thought it was gonna change. And one of the core elements that I talk about all the time with denial is the element of surprise.

Dr Jane Greer (10:08.855)
If you are surprised by what somebody says or does, you’re in denial and you’re wishing and hoping that they were different.

Rhoda Sommer (10:19.838)
I can’t tell you how many times I said, okay, so you’re surprised, why am I not surprised? Okay.

Dr Jane Greer (10:26.571)
Exactly. As a therapist, as a therapist, I said that the other day to one of my patients. I said, you know, look, let’s just be honest. How come I knew that he was going to do this and you didn’t? And I have a skill in my book called Use What You Know, that, you know, we all know certain truths and certain realities and certain facts. We know that

If we stay up really late, we’re going to be exhausted the next day. We know that if we eat two pieces of cake and anything we want on the menu, we’re going to be over our limit by the next day. We know this. And then we forget it. And then we don’t use it. In the moment, we forget and we do what we want. We go with our urge, our desire, our impulse, and we do not use what we know. The wishing and the hoping just envelops you. I talk about.

know, a couple of other ingredients, but when you’re rooted in wishing and hoping, you forget, you go with the wish, and you lose the reality, and you lose your hold on reality, and you lose your being able to hold on to yourself.

Rhoda Sommer (11:41.774)
That’s right. Yeah, I think reality is Underestimated as being something valuable

Dr Jane Greer (11:49.575)
Well said, touche, that is so true. Look, especially in today’s times, reality is painful. Let’s call it spade to spade. I mean, I have patients who, you know, they’ve just been so distressed by the reality of our political climate, our social climate, and they’re listening, they’re consumed with the radio, and they’re consumed with the news. And so I say to them, look, you do need to put, not blinders on, but you need to put parameters in place.

Rhoda Sommer (12:18.191)
Limits, yes.

Dr Jane Greer (12:19.095)
Exactly. Figure out when you’re going to listen to the radio, when you’re going to listen to the news. You can’t listen to it all day. Pick some times. Structure and limit the amount of time that you spend. So you’ve got your feet in reality, but you’re not drowning in it.

Rhoda Sommer (12:34.57)
Yes, yes, yes. You write in your book about missing the signs. What is this all about?

Dr Jane Greer (12:44.955)
Well, that’s good old denial because you see something about somebody and then you doubt yourself. You know, denial helps us feel better about ourselves. So if we think somebody’s behaving badly, that can trigger guilt that you’re being a bad person. You’re not understanding. You’re not being caring by giving them the benefit of the doubt. So.

through denial, you feel good. Oh, I understand. He didn’t mean that. And you give yourself the room to say that, that was not a sign. You know, that didn’t really happen. I’ve had people, I had one patient happened to be picking her husband up for lunch at his office and he wasn’t in there. So she went in and she, you know, on an impulse, she hit his answering machine.

And she heard this woman saying, you know, oh, something I’m having an interesting day, I’m blowing my hair dry now, and you know, oh, I love you. And she came up to session and she said, what would that be? Why was she talking about blowing her hair? So I said, you know, you’ve got to talk to your husband. The husband said, oh, it’s just a friend. She loves me, blows her hair. And she believed it. And that’s missing the sign.

You know, you’re told mistruths and you’re told lies. The signs are there. One of the women found an earring in her car that was not hers. Another one found a Tampax in the grocery bag and she stopped to stop getting her period. I mean, I could go on with a gazillion different small signs that when they ask, you know, what is this?

Oh, it must have fallen in the grocery store. Oh, you know, it must have been at the, where I got the car repaired, the, you know, the woman who was servicing it and writing down, you know, what the bill was gonna be must have dropped her earring. And you believe what you’re told and you miss the sign.

Rhoda Sommer (15:00.818)
or any more about believing what you’re told because yeah I think people they want to believe that false reality.

Dr Jane Greer (15:09.339)
Yes. They want to believe the other person because we love the other person. We can’t believe they would really betray us or deceive us. We believe that they are trustworthy. Because if they’re trustworthy, then you’re safe. If you can trust somebody, you’re safe.

And if you start to think that they’re untrustworthy or they’re lying to you, your anxiety is going to spike and it’s, you’re going to feel threatened and you’re not going to feel safe. So it’s way easier to believe them when they explain it away and you go, he’s not having an affair or he didn’t spend all that money or she, you know, she didn’t do this. It’s so much easier to believe.

Rhoda Sommer (16:06.543)
And it’s buying into that false certainty to avoid the uncertainty of what’s going on in reality.

Dr Jane Greer (16:17.039)
Exactly. You said it. People are afraid of change. I have a book called Courage to Change in Love, Work, and Life. And people get emotionally gridlocked because of fear and anxiety. The fear of the unknown is very, it looms large for so many people that the expression, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know. That is what keeps a lot of people just mired in their unhappiness.

Rhoda Sommer (16:49.978)
said that to people a million times. Yep.

Dr Jane Greer (16:52.251)
Right? Because at least when you know what you’re dealing with, you feel like you can exercise some control. When you don’t know what you’re dealing with, you feel completely out of control. And, you know, change is very daunting, but it’s so exhilarating, and it is so empowering once you really choose to read the signs.
pay attention to them, confront your own denial, overcome it and see the truth, and then start to hold on to your truth and start to speak your truth. Exactly.

Rhoda Sommer (17:33.534)
and grow. I think it was Pearls that said, man, it’d been Isidore, growing up is honestly facing painful situations. And I’ve probably in eight and a half years of podcasting said that at least a hundred times, because I just, I wished I’d heard that, back a long time ago in my own growing up.

And I think that looking at reality makes such a difference in the rest of your life. And you live better because you’re dealing with your own truth.

Dr Jane Greer (18:11.595)
Exactly. And also, ironically, whereas people are afraid that if they embrace reality, they’ll be out of control, you actually are much more in control. It’s like people don’t want to get behind the driver’s seat because they say, well, I don’t know where I’m going and how am I going to get there. So I’ll stay in the passenger seat and read the map. But then you have no say over, you’re tired, it’s been a long trip, let’s stop, let’s have lunch.

Rhoda Sommer (18:23.732)

Dr Jane Greer (18:39.495)
We need to put gas in the car. You have no input in your own life. And you’re at the mercy of whoever’s driving your life with lies, deceptions, manipulation, extortion. You’re just going along for the ride. You’re the passenger.

Rhoda Sommer (18:58.318)
People seem very gifted about turning a little into a lot. And what that made me think of is a client that I have said to her, you’ve made a devil’s bargain. And I’m not talking about his drinking anymore. We’re done with that. He’s committed, that’s what he wants. And you get to work part-time. You get a nice life.
and that’s the devil’s bargain you’ve made. And that you got to live with the reality of that instead of complaining about it.

Dr Jane Greer (19:28.72)
Well said.

Dr Jane Greer (19:34.627)
Absolutely. Right, exactly right. Well, denial to me is turning a little into a lot and it’s also turning a lot into a little. So turning a little into a lot starts with you’re not getting, if you’re dating or you’re in a relationship, you’re not getting the time or attention that you need. Your needs are not getting met in the way that you would hope.

So if he hasn’t called for two weeks or three weeks and then he calls, instead of it being, boy that is a little, once in three weeks, it becomes he called and it becomes much more than what it really is so that you stay wishing and hoping for more. And turning a lot into a little is when you’re dealing with a lot of bad behavior.

And you say, ah, it’s not so bad. It doesn’t happen that much. You know, you forget, you miss the signs. You forget that he canceled three times last month, or you forget that your partner promised to pick up the laundry, the dry cleaning, and didn’t two times previously. So every time it’s like it just happened again. And it’s like, oh, it’s not that bad because it’s one time.

Rhoda Sommer (21:03.25)
Wow, that’s great. So I saw an interview with James Comey and he said as a prosecutor, he recognizes it can be almost impossible for people to admit that they are a victim of fraud because of the shame.

This rang true to me as I thought about my girlfriend’s sister, who despite the evidence gives money to an online romance with a man she’s never met. What advice can you offer about the obstacle of shame?

Dr Jane Greer (21:35.239)
Well, shame is a very powerful force. It makes us feel horrible about ourselves. And so enter denial to help us feel okay, to help us reclaim some self-esteem and feel better. And so again, rather than seeing the person who is conning you, I mean, I have a book called How Could You Do This to Me?

learning to trust after betrayal. I originally started writing it and called it love scams because so many people were getting scammed. But betrayal is so pervasive and so across the board and one of the biggest fallouts of betrayal is exactly that, Rhoda. It’s shame. How could I have let this happen to me? How did I not see it coming? So when you’re in the midst of it, when you’re engaged in it, denial helps you make it disappear so that you don’t feel like an idiot.

Rhoda Sommer (22:07.827)
It’s amazing.

Dr Jane Greer (22:29.967)
so that you don’t feel so bad about yourself. It’s just that you can’t make it disappear. And when it does finally roll over you and flatten you, you then have to really address, well, how did I miss it? And most importantly, how do I start to now deal with trusting my judgment? Your friend is not seeing the reality of the situation. And to me, it sounds like She’s wishing and hoping so much that this man is legitimate because she desperately wants this relationship, that she’s believing what he’s telling her and turning a little into a lot for herself. And there’s the full blown picture of denial at work.

Rhoda Sommer (23:18.582)
Yeah, absolutely. In your book, you say, the differences people have in politics, religion, ethnic values, beliefs, and their personal opinions can divide families and end relationships, end quote. Could you tell me and explain your thoughts on evaluating the expectations other people have of you? I think that’s so important.

Dr Jane Greer (23:43.259)
Yeah, well, it’s absolutely true. You know, most the I wrote my book with two perspectives, the expectations we have of ourselves and the expectations other people have of us. And finding the middle ground between the two. Because if you’re not clear on your own expectations, you’re going to be at the mercy and jumping through hoops to try and meet the expectations of others. And

You know, there are a lot of differing opinions. When it comes to differing opinions, if you can agree to disagree and not make it about who’s right or who’s wrong, but open up to curiosity and trying to understand, why do you think like that? Why do you feel like that? Without having to convince somebody that they’re right or they’re wrong so that there’s room for two different perspectives, you can handle your own expectations and those of others.

The hardest part of dealing with the expectations of others is what I call demanders denial. And everybody has somebody who demands a lot of them, who wants their time, their attention, wants you to take care of them, wants you to put them first. So it could be a mother, it could be a partner. And the crucial piece of the demanders denial is that

No matter how much you give, no matter how much you do, a sister, a brother, a friend, a colleague, it’s never enough. It’s never good enough. No matter what you do, the bar always gets raised. It’s always about how you could have done more, you should have done more, you didn’t do enough. And so if you’re calling your mother once a day, it’s why aren’t you calling twice a day?

If you lend money to your sister for an emergency, it’s, but you never do this for me. You only lent me the money once. It’s always about what you didn’t do or could have or should have done more. And so I call it demand is denial because nine out of 10 people, all my patients, get locked into trying to get the other person to see that they’re being unreasonable and unrealistic with their expectations.

It’s unrealistic to think I can call you three times a day. I’m at work. It’s unrealistic to think I can come and walk your dog when I have two kids and my own dog. And these are legitimate things I’m telling you, examples in my book of some of the expectations family members have had. It’s unrealistic to think that somebody can come over and pack your suitcase, because you’re taking a trip, when they haven’t packed their own. But…

People spend so much effort and energy trying to get the other person to see how unreasonable they are being. And what I say is they have demanders denial. They feel entitled. They feel justified. They have a right to ask of you the things that they do and they have complete denial of you and your needs. Your needs are irrelevant.

Your needs do not exist to them. Your needs are a burden to them. And if you tell them your needs, then you’re being insensitive and thoughtless to present them with these needs when you see what they’re dealing with and what they need from you. And so much of my work is to get my patients to see demanders denial that they don’t see you. What I say about Narcissus Rotor is,

Dr Jane Greer (27:38.151)
Here’s the good news and the bad news. It’s not about you. People personalize the demanders, you know, the demanders demands, they personalize it all the time. And I say, it’s not about you. That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news. It’s not about you. It should be about you. They should see you. They should consider you. They should be appreciative that you gave them.

an hour as opposed to say why couldn’t you give me two hours? But they don’t. And that’s when you’re dealing with demand is denial. You don’t exist. And you have to protect yourself when you’re dealing with them. You have to be very clear on the limits you put in place. But most importantly, you have to recognize it.

Rhoda Sommer (28:28.082)
I’ve never heard it put that way. And I’ve talked to people a lot about expectations. So I really like that flip of demanders denial. It’s just a different, I’m always looking for different ways to say things. And you know how when a client comes in and says, oh, I heard on, well, it’s the old days, Oprah, and she said blah, blah. And I’m thinking to myself, yeah, we talked about that like six months ago, but hey, great, you know, it got in with Oprah. I’m okay with that, you know? But it,

Rhoda Sommer (28:57.33)
It’s different ways to phrase it so it slides in to the consciousness. Yes, yes.

Dr Jane Greer (29:01.323)
So they get it. They get it. You know, and I tell you, I have God bless my patients. I love and adore them and they make such strides. They work so hard and they make such strides. And then, you know, regression in the service of the egos. There’s that little slippage where all of a sudden they’re back to well, why doesn’t my mother know that I have special food needs and, you know, help change the, you know, the, the menu.

Or why doesn’t my mother know I need her to babysit so she comes over and helps? Or why doesn’t my mother want to see, or why doesn’t my father want to see his grandkids? They go right back into the hurt and the pain at being so, feeling so irrelevant. And they take it so personally that they’re not loved and they’re not cared for. That’s not the truth. They are loved, but they’re loved for what they do.
for that family member. And it’s the baseball fan mentality. What have you done for me lately? If you didn’t do what that person wanted that day, then you’re not exactly gonna be loved. You’re gonna be criticized and blamed and put down. And my patients come to realize that there’s no way to win. I had one gal one time, her mother left her scarf on the chair and it was like…

20 degrees outside and she said, I stood there and debated. Should I bring her the scarf or not? I didn’t know whether she left it because she didn’t wanna be bothered with it or if she forgot it and was gonna freeze. And I didn’t know what to do. She said, so I finally, I took it out to her and sure enough, she said, I didn’t want it. Why do you think I left it there?

And I said to her, I got news for you. If you didn’t bring it out to her, you better be sure she would have said, how could you not bring out my scarf in 20 degrees weather when I forgot it? Unquestioningly, because you’re dealing with the demander for whom it’s never enough. They are driven by their own deprivation and you can’t jump high enough.

They’ll raise the bar. One of my favorite stories was the birthday. This gal made a, it was her mother’s 100th birthday. And she was in television. So she got the mother, you know when he does the 100 years on the birthday, Willard, Willard. Yeah, so that’s before. So she got the mother acknowledged.

Rhoda Sommer (31:41.256)
Oh yeah. The weather guy. Yeah.

Dr Jane Greer (31:47.607)
on TV for all her friends to see for her 100th birthday. Then she taught her mother’s friends how to go online to do FaceTime. And on the actual day, she had all her mother’s friends come online, because some of them had moved, they were in Florida, California, different parts of the country, to do a whole FaceTime birthday. Then she wrote her original poem. She made an original poem for her.

and read it and read it to all the friends. Then they made a party of the friends on the same day that were there who lived in her complex in, she lived in a senior thingy. And you know, she was out of town. I think she was in Florida. I forget where she was, but the daughter lived in a different place. She did all this. And what do you think the mother says at the end of the night?

Rhoda Sommer (32:41.782)
You didn’t come to see me?

Dr Jane Greer (32:43.259)
Yeah, but you didn’t send me a card. You always send me a birthday card. Well, I am not kidding. When she told me this, my mouth fell open. I mean, and it takes a lot for me to be shocked. The absurdity and the insanity of, it doesn’t matter. There’s no way you can please your mother. Because, and then I have my other favorite.

Rhoda Sommer (32:57.934)
The absurdity is really.

Dr Jane Greer (33:10.943)
of a friend of mine, she was, she’s a performer, and this is years back, and she was on the cover of Newsweek. On the cover of Newsweek for the character that she did, Willy Wonka, I forget what it was, but she said to her mother, Mom, I’m on the cover of Newsweek. So her mother says to her, yeah, so what? When you make a million dollars, let me know.

So wait, when I used to teach, I would use this example. So she got this gig working at this hotel where she was making over the course of the year, she made a million dollars. So true to life, she goes and she says to her mom, would you believe it, I made a million dollars this year. And her mother says, ah, what’s a million dollars these days?

Dr Jane Greer (34:04.049)
And there you have it.

Rhoda Sommer (34:05.858)
No winning in that situation. Oh my goodness.

Dr Jane Greer (34:07.767)
in that situation and in every situation when you’re dealing with a demander and their denial. So I encourage people to really see your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, your colleague, your boss. I had one gal, the boss had her working till 11 o’clock at night. I said, this is unacceptable. This is stopping. You’re not working till 11 o’clock at night…to try and be a good employee. It’s ridiculous, you know, but they just keep trying to get the approval from the other person and they will never get it. They can only start to give themselves their own approval by putting limits in place and living up to them and starting to know what it means for them to be a good enough sister, a good enough brother, a good enough daughter, a good enough partner. You have to have…
to go back to your original question of expectations, you have to have your own expectations of what does it mean to me to be a good son, daughter, husband, wife, partner, colleague, employee. You have to have your own expectations that you meet because then you’ll feel good about it because you’re never gonna meet the demand or denial.

Rhoda Sommer (35:26.078)
That’s absolutely true. So help all of us understand the differences between denial, self-deceived, or unrealistically optimistic. I think that being able to identify denial at work is crucial to personal growth.

Dr Jane Greer (35:44.039)
Oh, absolutely. But you know, denial, self-deception, and optimistically hopeful, those are all, you know, those are just spokes on the wheel of denial. And it turns, you start off being optimistic, which is positive. We all want to have hope and be positive and optimistic. And then when the wheel turns a little more, you start to lie to yourself and deceive yourself and dismiss the truth that you know, the wheel goes full round and you’re into denial.

So it’s a question of degree, and you really want to monitor yourself as you go. What was the second part of that question? Oh, denial at work. Oh, my goodness. The example I just gave of working until 11 o’clock at night, or trying, again, dealing with a demanding boss.

Rhoda Sommer (36:25.479)
denial at work.

Dr Jane Greer (36:40.571)
trying to get them demand is denial, just like you have demand is denial with a mother or father, you have that at work, trying to get them to see you, that you have to go home, that you have children to take care of, that you have too many reports, they are not going to see your needs. They’re concerned with their workload and they are concerned with you doing it and your needs are going to be a relative so that you have to learn how to negotiate and advocate for yourself and be clear about what you can and can’t do and find a way to communicate that and talk with your boss or colleague who’s a colleague who’s dumping their workload on you so that you can stand up for yourself and not get gets what you know not let your denial have you sweep it under the rug.

self-deception, lies, life, married, relationships, goals

Rhoda Sommer (37:34.971)
Share with my audience about two of the 11 skills you mention in your book. Read the small print. It can be hazardous to your emotional health. And also the skill, do the emotional math.

Dr Jane Greer (37:47.384)
I love that.

Dr Jane Greer (37:51.771)
Oh, that’s great. Well, these two really crop up in dating and relationships. So in dating, read the small print on a cigarette pack in tiny letters, it can kill you. Well, the small print are the tiny details. So for example, one of my patients when she was dating, she had been divorced and she was dating and she said, so what do I look for?

So I said, well, if he reaches over and helps himself to your food without asking, and if he doesn’t offer to reciprocate, would you like a bite of mine? She said, well, what does that mean? I said, it’s a small detail. Read the small print. But it’s a signature on entitlement and narcissistic behavior, on his feeling like your food is his food. And he can just help himself to it without asking. And then there’s no reciprocity. Your needs are irrelevant.

He’s got your food and too bad for you. So she said to me, I almost did a spit take because sure enough over dinner, he reaches over and helps himself to my food and doesn’t offer me anything. And by the way, one of the funniest episodes on friends was where Joey went out with this girl and he really liked her. And he comes home and he complains to Chandler, I can’t go out with her again. And Chandler says, why not? He says, because she ate my French fries.

So Chandler says, well next time get two plates of french fries. So Joey says, that’s a great idea. So they go out, he orders a burger, he gets two plates of french fries, she looks at his burger she says, I’ll have that.

Dr Jane Greer (39:39.103)
And you know, so interesting, one of my patients, he’s in the midst of writing a book about this, this really, what’s the word, egregious divorce that he went through with his ex-wife. And he’s writing all the signs he learns and he talked about the narcissism that he learned at session. And he said, because he didn’t see the small print when they were on their first date, he ordered himself a turkey sandwich that he loved, and she, a roast beef sandwich, and she changed the order on him.

And he said, oh, she must be concerned that I eat healthy and she’s looking out for me. And he missed those small signs till he realized, then of course, two days later, she did the same thing. She helped herself to his burger. But that’s the small details. They tell you they’re coming at seven o’clock and they show up at 7.45, not five or 10 minutes late, significantly late.

Rhoda Sommer (40:15.095)
Yeah, yeah.

Dr Jane Greer (40:38.383)
They tell you they’ll call you on Thursday and you don’t hear from them till next Tuesday. The little things that don’t look like a lot, the small details are the small print that can kill a relationship. And then the do the emotional math is really important because the small details, each one in and of itself is not like a big deal. So I tell my patients write it down because

When he says to you, oh, I was going to come down for the weekend like we planned, but my grandmother just got sick, I have to stay home and take care of her. That one instance is plausible. You understand, you feel bad for him and it’s fine. It’s separate. When it happens again, oh, the pipe burst and now he’s got to deal with helping his mother. And each instance in and of itself is plausible and you don’t see the big picture.

Rhoda Sommer (41:37.916)

Dr Jane Greer (41:38.007)
So I tell people, write down all the things and then add it up so you have the reality in front of you and can do the emotional math to see the big picture. It’s not one isolated instance. It’s a whole pattern of behavior that is somebody’s unavailable, either literally, physically, emotionally unavailable. They’re not there for you.

And that’s what you need to see.

Rhoda Sommer (42:11.01)
So I’m sitting here thinking about the demanding denier. And I have a couple of people with partners who’ve survived pretty significant trauma and are very demanding in order to feel safe. And my solution has been to, I found a couples therapist who’s an expert in trauma. And so that was my solution. But what advice do you have for an individual in that situation? Because it is so tricky.

Dr Jane Greer (42:48.311)
in the situation where they are the traumatized one.

Rhoda Sommer (42:52.596)
No, the traumatized person is very much a demanding denier in the sense that their needs fill up the room. It’s not narcissism. It’s about safety and trauma.

Dr Jane Greer (43:05.987)
Right, so I think the person with them has to first and foremost be very, very aware of what they went through and very empathic to convey that they understand their pain and really feel their pain. The traumatized person has to feel understood in their pain.

Rhoda Sommer (43:25.002)
Yeah, I’d say that’s true of both.

Dr Jane Greer (43:32.347)
That’s particularly true with betrayal. I mean, people who are betrayed can bring up for a long time, how could you do this to me? Because they want their partner to know they’re still in pain and to say, I’m sorry, I did this to you. So there first has to be that foundation of empathy. And then I think the traumatized person has to look at, what is it that they do need to feel safe? What’s gonna help them concretely feel safe? Is it a phone call every day? Is it…

Rhoda Sommer (43:33.185)

Dr Jane Greer (44:02.115)
a kiss goodnight, is it sex twice? What do they need to feel safe and secure and trusting that their partner’s not going to betray them, to value them, abandon them? And so if they can be clear on their own needs and really negotiate them with their partner so that their partner, so that they’re realistic, that the partner doesn’t feel that they can never meet this person’s needs, no matter how.

Rhoda Sommer (44:26.239)

Dr Jane Greer (44:29.635)
Again, no matter how much I do or give, I’m never there. It’s, you know, look, you want me to call you? I can do that, but I can’t call you five times a day. You may have a little more wiggle room with a traumatized person than a father, a mother, a sister, a brother, because they have a mindfulness and an awareness of their trauma and they can speak a little more clearly to what they need. The generic demander where you’re dealing with their demand is denial. They’re clueless to what their needs are. Their needs are, I need it all. I need it all and I need it all from you.

Rhoda Sommer (45:09.078)
Absolutely. Yes. Yes, I would agree totally. What last words of wisdom would you like to impart?

Dr Jane Greer (45:20.187)
I’d like to say that if you think you’re lying to yourself, you probably are, and you really want to ask yourself.

How long can I do this? And is there any other way I can deal with this situation to take the bull by the horns so that I don’t get stuck in the back or the butt by the bull’s horns? Because that’s denial, it’ll bite you in the butt. And to do that, I would encourage everybody listening to read, am I lying to myself how to overcome denial, see the truth, because I really tried to lay it out very clear and very simply.
so that you see it and understand it with all my patience. Every story in my book is true. And it helps to see yourself in other people to say, well, that’s exactly what I’m dealing with. And my skills are real easy peasy. Read the small print, you know. I did love.

Rhoda Sommer (46:23.418)
I did love the two that you just shared with us, and there are nine more inside your book.

Dr Jane Greer (46:31.119)
Well, thank you so much. I think it’s a really, I’ve written a book, How Could You Do This to Me, a book on betrayal. I have a book called What About Me? Stop Selfishness from Ruining Your Relationship. I have a book called Courage to Change, Finding the Courage to Move Out and Love Work and Life. I wrote about adult sibling rivalry. All these relationships that we had with our sisters and brothers are dynamic and active,
and alive in our relationships with spouses and friends and colleagues. But I must say that my denial book, I think, is really my favorite book.

0 0 votes
Article Rating


About the Rhoda Mills Sommer

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments



Download your FREE checklist



Would love your thoughts, please comment.x