July 4th 2022 — Happy In Denial Day

Mark Goulston
4 min readJul 3, 2022


There can be no real independence in a society that lives in denial of facts that it chooses not to believe.

The boiling frog is an apologue (moral tale using animals) that talks about putting a frog in water and gradually increasing the temperature until it is boiling and in which the frog will continue to acclimate and not jump out until it dies.

As we watch the January 6 hearings currently being conducted, the American public is like that frog, increasingly seeing overwhelming evidence of criminal intent and activity by former President Donald Trump. Yet there is a sense that it could not only lead to no criminal prosecution, but that he could run again for President in 2024 and possibly win. And if he were to run and lose again, it could just set up another series of protests over a “stolen” election.

What lies beneath the unsettling feeling that more evidence could come out against Trump and no definitive prosecutorial action will occur?

In other words, what fuels the denial and lack of acceptance of overwhelming facts in evidence that is being played out in the hearing?

What we are seeing is something called accommodation bias which means the more we are willing to deny and not accept truths and facts, the more we will continue to do so.

This phenomenon is fueled by a collective avoidance of realizing that as right as Trump’s supporters think they are, is as wrong as they can turn out to be. The reason for that avoidance is that when people are certain about something with every fiber of their being and they turn out to be wrong, their doubt can metastasize through everything they believe to be true and they can end up losing confidence in everything they think. If they reach that point, they can end up not being able to make any decision.

There is also a counterforce fueling that we’re seeing being played out in those who oppose Trump, namely the DNC and its leadership, i.e. Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, Jamie Raskin, Bennie Thompson, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris.

We refer to that counterforce as the “outrage enrage bifurcate.” This is a psychological underpinning that causes many people to avoid conflict when they become so outraged by another person’s behavior that it threatens to cause them to become enraged in their behavior.

Becoming enraged is something that is anathema to the current DNC’s leadership and their not wanting to sink to the level of how they view Trump and his extreme Right base to be behaving.

The reason they don’t want to sink to that level is that it internally pushes these people into the shadow of their personality of deeply negative and cruel thoughts and feelings — which everyone unconsciously possesses — and risks their feeling shame at realizing they exist.

What can be done to free our collective boiling frog to jump out of its denial before the boiling water kills it and analogously kills the functioning of our democracy according to the Constitution if no action is taken against Trump?

One of the most effective ways for the DNC leadership to cause the pro-Trump leadership (Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, Fox News, etc.) is to try something called assertive humility where it would lead a conciliatory conversation by baring its neck in hopes of that causing the RNC leadership to do the same.

That might take the form of the DNC accepting that as “self-righteous” and right as they think they are and condescending to Trump et al is as disrespectful and demeaning as they have turned out to be.

If the DNC can apologize to Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell for haughtily talking down and being so smug towards them, not merely because they believe Cruz and McConnell are wrong for supporting Trump, but because the DNC is scared at how doing so will foment increased violence and divisiveness.

That may not break through to the DNC leadership, but it may be worth trying. The worst that could happen if the DNC leadership bared its neck with such a gracious and humble gesture is that the RNC leadership would just say something disdainful and dismissive which is no worse than what they are already doing.

If that occurred it wouldn’t show the DNC to be weak, but instead show how ungracious the RNC is capable of acting when an olive branch of conciliation is being offered up to it.



Mark Goulston

Dr. Goulston is the world's #1 listening coach and author of "Just Listen" which became the top book on listening in the world