How To Avoid Avoidance

December 9, 2021

Whenever we encounter difficulties, many of us tend to retreat and avoid the problem. Using this approach does not stop the problem from getting worse and can escalate it into a major issue. Our lives can become more positive if we stop avoiding problems and deal with them directly. 

What can you do to deal with anxiety, fear, depression, and trauma? Coping with acute emotional pain in your life can be difficult. You may be able to strengthen your ’emotional muscle memory’ by practicing a simple, go-to technique so that you’re prepared when the worst happens (or at least as close as you can get). 

We often think of ‘getting over’ or avoiding pain. But like anything else in life, the more we resist or avoid something, the less practiced we are. Carefully approaching the things we are anxious or worried about, can help us slowly and carefully work through them. 

Here’s how you can get started: 

(1) Take Notice

As you experience the painful feeling, what is happening to you? Where are you mentally, emotionally, and physically? Be honest with yourself. It will help you If you choose, you can speak it aloud to yourself as it will help you own your experience and prepare you for moving forward.

(2) Don’t Judge Yourself

It is perfectly normal to feel whatever you are feeling. As a matter of fact, it may be as meaningless as an itch behind your ear — annoying, disappointing, but within your control. Be aware, but resist any urge to judge yourself. Being kind towards yourself is the most important.  

(3) Remember Feelings Are Okay 

Smiling or crying isn’t good or bad, it just is. Emotions are like waves in the ocean; we cannot avoid or change their flow. It makes sense to feel emotions. You may be experiencing sadness and despair right now. There is no problem with emotion; the problem lies in whether or not you judge yourself based on your experience.

This is not about self-pity or wallowing in emotion. It’s more important to accept that feeling sad, angry, anxious, and depressed are simply symptoms of where you are right now. 

(4) Rinse And Repeat

Just like with many other things in life, you’ll likely need to return to Step 1 over and over again. Too often when trying new approaches we think we failed because the approach hasn’t worked. However, many things just take time and practice. 

Ask any artist, and they will tell you that they have failed countless times, but they kept trying — sometimes for decades. Additionally, this is not a quick fix, but a lifelong process you can begin today. 

There is no doubt that certain things make accepting oneself difficult. The antidote for these, too, is to ‘give yourself a break’, to resist judging yourself, and to accept yourself. Whether you struggle with childhood/adult trauma, addiction, poverty, stress, or chronic illness, keep these things in mind and remember to always love yourself.

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