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You can’t wake a person who’s pretending to be asleep.

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What does it mean when someone pretends to be asleep? To pretend to be asleep is to deny seeing what is right in front of you. It is avoidance. And before we judge it, we need to understand that this is a very human response. Sometimes we protect ourselves by denying what is happening because we just don’t know how we’d deal with it if we acknowledged and accepted it. 

But how do you handle a situation where someone you love is in complete denial of a serious problem?

We all have people we care about who may make choices that don’t seem to serve them. In many cases, we can have an honest conversation with them about it and express our concerns. But in those moments when we want to help the most, we have to discern one of three things:

A.) Does this person see where you are coming from and can admit that the situation is what it is?

B.) Did this person lack awareness of your perspective and are they able to have a conversation about it, whether they agree or disagree with your perspective?

C.) Are they in complete denial of the issue and pretending that it doesn’t exist?

If someone refuses to see what is happening in front of them, it is a conscious choice on their part and one they have every right to make. The reality is, they know what is happening is not good. And by trying to confront them about it with good intentions, simply exasperates their own feelings about the situation that they are seeking to avoid.

What we have to realize as a concerned friend is that they have decided with full knowledge of the situation that they want to opt out and pretend it isn’t happening. They have the right to choose this, as frustrating as this may be.

What you need to choose is whether or not you are going to spend your energy trying to wake someone who clearly doesn’t want to be awake. And just because you choose to allocate your energy elsewhere, doesn’t mean that you can’t be there to support them when they awake.

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