Avoiding Won't Make it Go Away
I have been avoiding some things lately. In fact, I sat down to write this blog post and instead, got up and went for a walk.
I'm back. I feel reenergized. And guess what, everything is still waiting for me.
Let's be real - I don't avoid everything. I mostly avoid things I perceive to be: difficult, painful or hurtful, unpleasant, taxing, conflict-inducing, or even boring. Emptying the dishwasher is about as boring as it gets, and often falls victim to "I'll do it later," until the drying rack in the sink becomes unmanageable and I cave.
What I mean here, is I tend to avoid things that feed into my deepest fears or insecurities about myself. You know, the real stuff we like to keep hidden from other people, and mostly ourselves.
The justification for avoiding such things makes perfect sense in my head: "If I avoid it, maybe it will resolve itself," or "I don't want to hurt someone's feelings or risk the relationship," or "I'll do it as soon as I finish all the easier, more pleasant things on my list, and whoops, now the day is over. I'll do it tomorrow."
Sound familiar to anyone else?
The real justification, however, is much scarier and harder to accept: "If I have the tough conversation, I will have to face hurt and pain,"
or "If I finally balance my books, I might realize that I'm failing in this business,"
or "If I really go after an opportunity, I might be rejected,"
or "If I make the doctor's appointment, I might learn a scary diagnosis." These reveal the things we are afraid to admit, see or show others, and are the real reasons avoidance often wins.
We also know that when we avoid things, they don't, in fact, go away. Usually they fester. And grow. And suck more of our mental and emotional energy - energy that would undoubtedly be better spent elsewhere.
And for me, when I avoid things, or focus on the other things (wink wink), I don't really get anywhere. I become paralyzed, immobile, stuck. Or I spin in circles, creating the illusion of progress because I'm busy, but I'm merely the hamster running on its wheel, never really going anywhere. That's the OPPOSITE of what I actually want to be doing!
What's more, after I've addressed the thing I've been avoiding, I feel SO. MUCH. BETTER. Why is it so hard to remember that feeling?
By avoiding things that are important, we're allowing the smallest part of us to make our decisions and guide our life. The part that wants us to believe all those fears and insecurities will become reality, to stay in our safe little box and not take any risks. Well I, for one, do not want to stay small.
So, ask yourself, "What is the opportunity for me by doing the thing I'm avoiding? What about this is going to make me stronger, wiser or more compassionate in the future?" Or, "How will addressing this free me up to do more productive things?" That's what it's about, isn't it? We can only go forward in life, so why not become stronger, wiser and more compassionate?
Let's revisit the internal dialogue from before. Now, it could go like this:
"If I have the tough conversation, it might bring us closer together and strengthen our relationship,"
or "If I finally balance my books, it will highlight where I can make changes in my spending"
or "If I really go after an opportunity, I might actually get it, or be introduced to someone amazing in my network"
or "If I make the doctor's appointment, I will finally have a course charted for treatment" Same risk, different outcome.
Lastly, if you're prone to avoidance behaviors, it's impossible to rid your life completely. They're along for the ride. Acknowledge their presence, the message they're trying to send, and then politely tell them to get out of the car.
Look at that, I wrote this post, and already feel so. much. better.