Word of the Day: Avoidance



Let me guess: You’d like to avoid reading this post. Congrats! You, like most of the world, deal with unpleasant things by avoiding them. Guess what? I’m a chronic avoider, too.

Is this a characteristic you’d like to change about yourself? Again, welcome to the “Club.”

I’m realizing that the wisdom I admire in other people is acquired by hitting your head against some “wall” long enough that you eventually realize your head hurts and you change some aspect of hitting your head. You pick a softer surface the next time. You wear a helmet. You take Tylenol. You STOP hitting your head. You break through that “wall.”

In other words, wise people have just been through the trial and error process so long that they eventually figure out better ways to handle tough situations or projects.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize that the things we avoid bring us pain, boredom, anger or some other negative feeling. So, avoidance is a good thing, right?


As a professional avoider I can tell you that avoidance just delays experiencing those feelings until they “fester” into some sort of stress that produces insomnia, illness, or an argument with my hubby.  So, do I have any words of wisdom for combating this nonsense?

Of course I do:

1. Identify the enemy. Sometimes we avoid without really knowing what we’re avoiding. What’s sitting on your to do list that doesn’t ever seem to get off the to do list? What never even makes it on the to do list? Are you avoiding even making a to do list??? 🙂

2. Write down why you’re avoiding this “critter.” Does it seem too big to tackle? Do you feel ill-equipped for it? Do you think you will experience lousy feelings if you move forward with it? Do you think you might fail? Do you think you could be rejected? Writing it down on a piece of paper in black and white could suddenly give those “enemies” less power!

3. Combat everything in # 2 with a “rebuttal.” If it’s too big to tackle, break it down into “bite-sized” pieces or tasks. If you feel ill-equipped, who knows a lot more about it that could enlighten you? Is there a book on it? Can you Google it? If there are scary feelings involved, remind yourself that feelings just are–they’re neither bad nor good. They’re just an indication that you’re human. What you do with those feelings is what matters. If you think you might fail, how will you ever know until you start working on that critter? Take the first step and I’ll lay odds it will go better than you think. You might get rejected? You’ve probably dealt with that before and have managed to continue breathing and taking up space on the planet.

4. Put one of those bite-sized pieces on your to do list. Write it in red. Circle it. Underline it. Italicize it. Bold it. And then, write this next to it: “I will feel better if I just do this today.”

5. Start working on it. You’ll be amazed at how good you will feel even if you just take the tiniest of steps. Exhibit A of my avoidance is overcrowded closets and drawers. So, today, I’m going to pick 6 items that need to come out of my closet and go to a charity. Will that make my closet look any better? Nope. But it’s a start and it makes me feel better. The trick is to keep doing that until the closet starts to resemble my inside feeling!

6. Be kind to yourself when you fail to work on it. No one is perfect and if you’ve been avoiding stuff for eons, chances are that you are a real pro at avoidance and it might take you a while to quit over-stuffing a closet or to deal with a painful memory. Just remind yourself that it’s not going to improve if you allow your avoidance to become a pattern again. Then, get up and go deal with the next part of “working on it.” Your occasional backsliding is merely feedback about how you’re doing and shouldn’t stop your journey to awesomeness. So, just adjust your tactics and get back to working on it right now. Yes, right now. Avoiders are good at putting it on tomorrow’s to do list and not dealing with it the first instance they can.

7. When you actually complete a step or two, celebrate a little bit! Need to make an appointment that you dread attending? Make that appointment and then do the Happy Dance in your bedroom to your favorite tune. It’s non-fattening; it counts as exercise and you might even pick up an endorphin or two that will allow you to feel even better about tackling the next step! It’s your celebration–just make whatever you choose commensurate with how big the step was!

What’s that? You just did something you’ve been avoiding? WOW! Congratulations! Look in the mirror and say to that mirror, “This is what success looks like!”

I have to go now. I have a closet to clean out. And probably a mirror to clean.

Friday’s Post: Another reason to wear red

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015 at 10:50 am and is filed under Lessons Learned. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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