Thursday, July 30, 2015

I know you don't feel like it but......

Avoidance!  It's something we all do now and again, but some of us do it more than others.  Like the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand, we ignore important things because..... well we just don't want to deal with that right now.  And "that" is feeling overwhelmed or afraid or disappointed in ourselves.  Think about it.  What do we most often avoid?  Exercise?  Looking at our finances?  Talking to our significant others?  Talking to our boss?  That big project at work or school?

We avoid when we feel overwhelmed or when we don't like the potential outcome of a situation.  Or when we feel like we don't have much control of a situation.  Or when we don't feel very prepared.  It's a stall tactic that allows us to push away something big that we are not quite sure how to handle.  It's a coping skill left over from childhood.  If we ignored something we didn't like, it would go away or someone else would take care of it.  But we're adults now right?  And if we ignore things, they don't get better and they rarely just go away.

You see avoidance itself sets us up for future failure.  When we avoid doing something complicated or unpleasant, we lose out on valuable skills we could be learning such a problem solving and negotiation.  We also don't learn how to tolerate discomfort.  Did you know that in recent studies more people would choose death than to sit for an hour alone with themselves?  They're avoiding alone time in order to avoid having to take stock of their lives and who they've become.  And to add injury to insult, that avoidance behavior actually increases our anxiety.  We know way back in the back of our brains that the issue is still there.  That we still haven't had that conversation or taken care of that important task.  The only way to stop the worry is to deal with the situation at hand.  So what to do?

First, break up a big project into smaller pieces.  There's no need to attack it all at once.  In fact, write it down on paper - make a plan for yourself that you can stick with and just start at step one.  You can also visualize a time when you handled other big projects or difficult discussions and things went well.  Get help from someone you trust who can talk you through things or hold you accountable when you can't trust yourself to do that.  There are many ways to face the things that make you uncomfortable and when it's over, you can relax and feel good in knowing you at least learned something new.

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