People typically come see me because something isn’t working in their life. It could be due to their relationship with themselves or their relationship with others but one thing that has been popping up a lot in my office as of late is the role avoidance is playing in their life. There are so many things we experience daily that cause us to feel. Maybe it’s an interaction with a loved one, or a co-worker who just grinds us the wrong way. Sometimes it is stress from life’s responsibilities or big changes that are taking place in our life. Whatever it is, the reality is we are feeling beings and the sooner we accept that and make room for it, the sooner we can move into feelings that we typically feel more comfortable with like happiness, joy, or love. What makes this so hard is we so often avoid things because we hope that by avoiding them, they will go away and life will feel more comfortable. Instead, it only causes us greater suffering.
Avoidance as a defense is really powerful because it allows us to believe, temporarily, that the problem we are experiencing has disappeared. If we suppress the important conversation we need to have, for example, the moment doesn’t have to be so uncomfortable and we can just have a relaxing evening. By avoiding our inner work, and keeping ourselves distracted by our outer work, we get to temporarily feel distracted by things that aren’t as painful or hard.
When we avoid, we only delay the inevitable. The conversation you are avoiding will end up having itself, either in the form of a relationship ending (that maybe didn’t have to) or in a blow up that has 6 months of build up behind it. We start to make sense of things through a destructive lens because we assume our unhappiness, lack of connection or our struggles are due to someone else’s actions instead of our own. The same is true when we avoid our inner work. You can keep yourself busy for the rest of your life, distract yourself with other things, but you will stay stuck and never progress in terms of your own sense of authenticity, and connection. In other words, your avoidance leads you to the very thing you have been trying to get away from – pain. You are running fast and hard towards the very things you don’t want to feel.
I remember as a child my dad used to always use the saying “Short term pain for long term gain.” He was stressing that doing something that feels hard now, usually leads you to the life or the results that you really want in the long term. I think it is an important motto to have in life when it comes to dealing with our feelings. Facing the pain now, means you get to experience the happiness and connection later. So spend some time looking at the ways you are avoiding the parts of yourself or the conversations you need to have in your life. Find the courage to just do your work, even if it’s hard, so you can live your most authentic life. I promise you that the time to deal with your issue/pain/fear/emotion is now, so stop increasing your suffering, be brave, and give yourself a chance.