As some of you may know, I am now also creating videos to accompany some of my blogs. Here, then, is a blog I wrote a few weeks ago, and a video that was created to engage with you in a different way. Some might also find having access to both narrative and video formats helpful. Be well.
3 Reasons Why Avoidance is an Ineffective Strategy
Avoid much? We all do. However, some of us avoid more than others. Might that be you? It was me for a long time. Why do you imagine avoidance is an ineffective strategy? Not sure. Let’s take a look at three reasons why.
1. It is not healthy
When we avoid things, we are, in effect, continuing to hold those things within us. Continue to do that, and you will be carrying around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Tiring.
You would think that by avoiding things we are uncomfortable with, do not want to do, or face, that we are creating more space within us. However, that is not the way it works. It’s the idea of the situation we are faced with that will continue to haunt us. Especially, if we believe deep down that we should be doing that thing, or facing that situation.
Let me give you an example
For a long time, I did not pay attention to my calendar. Now, in the position I am currently in, that ineffective strategy will not work for long. At that time, I knew that I should be paying more attention to my calendar, working to schedule myself more effectively, however, I ignored it. Why?
I simply didn’t want to take the time needed to work through it. Simple. Instead, I avoided it at all costs. What happened? People began to ask why my calendar was such a mess. Nice. I love when those we trust inquire, and make us think. Helpful. As was digging into my calendar and making the necessary adjustments.
Before doing the work in my calendar, it bothered me every time I looked at it. However, by organizing and prioritizing my calendar, I traded a fixed amount of time to do the work, with a continuous mental distraction. More effective.
2. It keeps you stuck
When we spend our mental energy on avoiding things, we have less mental capacity to try and do new things. Essentially, we sacrifice some of our creative potential. How much is sacrificed?
Depends on how much you avoid things. If you avoid often, then your creative potential will be severely impacted.
And, being stuck is no fun. Often, people are not even aware that they are stuck; nor do they recognize that they are avoiding things. The years I spent avoiding, I was aware of some of my avoidance, most I was not.
Here is another example
As I’ve written about in other posts, there was a time when I drank a lot. Too much. I knew that there was an issue, however, I made justifications and excuses for my behavior. Sort of a double burden. As my avoidance of the real issue, which at the time I was unaware of, was compounded by creating excuses and justifications. Exhausting. Really.
And, ultimately not helpful. Not physically, mentally, or spiritually. When living this way, you end up on the proverbial hamster wheel.
Doing the same thing every day, knowing you are doing it, making excuses and justifications for doing so, all the while staying in place. No movement.
3. You cannot grow
When we are avoiding, we are not moving; and, if we are not moving, we are not growing. Simple.
Growth is such an important part of the human experience. Some growth just comes our way. We didn’t invite it, yet it shows up on our doorstep. Some growth we actively seek out. We look for the opportunity.
Either way, having experiences that help us grow is one of the most wonderful things about being human.
Yet, when we spend large amounts of time avoiding things, we are limiting our ability to grow. Why? Because, when we spend that much time avoiding things, we have no capacity to seek out growth opportunities. We are too busy. Too busy avoiding, and making excuses and justifications for why we are avoidant.
When I was working in the private sector, I took on a new assignment with a new sales team, and within 6-months, I was exhausted, and heavily avoidant. I went from a top-performing team, to a team that was in need of development. As was I.
Instead of welcoming the growth opportunity, however, I avoided it, and actually ended up leaving the company within another 3 months. Why?
I was exhausted. That is true. Yet, why I was exhausted had less to do with the work, and more to do with my mental attitude.
I was avoiding the opportunity to grow, and making excuses and justifications for why it wasn’t working. Well, the only thing that wasn’t working was my thinking. And, that is okay. It is not a judgement. It happens to people all the time.
The point is to become aware of these types of opportunities. Being aware of how we avoid things creates the opportunity to better understand ourselves, and all of those around us.
It also provides us the opportunity to grow, if we choose to engage with ourselves, inquire into our avoidance, and do something about it.
What can you do?
Here are three strategies I use to get out of my avoidance, and into action.
Notice when you are avoiding something, and write it down – wiring it down creates more awareness about whatever it is that you are avoiding.
Create time to reflect and contemplate – create the time necessary to better understand why you are avoiding the task or situation. Until you really know why, you will probably not move forward in that area of your life.
Take an action – once you are clear on why you are avoiding something, take an action. Create a context to make some progress on the task or situation. It doesn’t mean that it will be complete, or solved, however, you will have moved forward.
When we are less avoidant, we have more time, more creative capacity, and more energy to do more things. Essentially, we can hold more. And, when we can hold more, and do more, we can be more.
Remember, we are all at times avoidant. Yet, if you find yourself more avoidant than you’d like to be, try some of the strategies outlined above, and get yourself moving again.
What do our emotions have to do with our relationships? Do they really matter that much? And, how much of our emotional selves do we share with those that are closest to us? Not sure, well, this is one area that I’ve been exploring a lot the past two years, so, let’s take a look.
Here is how it worked for me prior to 2 years ago. Something would happen, and I would react to my emotion. Didn’t really matter what the situation was, the event happened, and I would react. Sometimes the reactive emotion would be sadness, sometimes frustration, and sometimes anger.
Not helpful. Why?
Because when we react to our emotions without the time to process that emotion, we are in effect causing a possible chain reaction, especially if your partner is like you. Think about it. How many times have you gotten angry about something, and then you lashed out, unintentionally, and then your partner, or friend, lashed out right back at you? Happens all the time.
Action, reaction; or, reaction, action; or reaction, reaction. A vicious circle, and cycle.
What can we do?
One thing we can do, which I’ve written about in other posts, is slow down our reaction time. How? One way is by adding reflection, and meditation time, into our daily lives. Having the space and time to consider all of our options when confronted with any situation is needed, and necessary.
Though most people don’t prioritize reflection and meditation, there are many benefits, which suggest that doing so is beneficial for our daily lives, and for our long-term health.
What happens when we add time for reflection and meditation into our lives?
When we choose to intentionally slow down, and create more time and space for ourselves to be quiet and to think more thoughtfully about our lives, we actually become less reactive to ourselves. And, when we are less reactive to our own emotions, and thoughts, we are less reactive to other people and their emotions. We create more time, space, reflective possibilities, and actually choice, instead of reaction.
What other benefits are there to making time to reflect and practice mediation?
There are many benefits of making the time to reflect on our lives, and to practice meditation.
Here are a few
We are less reactive to ourselves, and all of those around us.
We have more time to fully consider all of our options
We better understand our own thoughts and emotions
We create the space to become more resilient
When we are less reactive, have more time, understand ourselves better, and become more resilient, we are able to hold more and handle more. We are also able to do more, to create more possibilities for ourselves and those around us.
Does this mean that I will never again react?
No. Reaction is needed and necessary when there is danger, or when something urgent is occurring, and a choice is needed right away. However, what I’ve come to realize is that time for reflection can be added into most situations that arise.
As you practice meditation and make time for reflection, you are able to make choices with more clarity. You, in fact, have more clarity. Why? Because you know yourself better, both your mind and your body. You are in touch with yourself on a deeper level, which, in and of itself, creates more time.
What does all of this have to do with my relationships?
When you understand yourself on a deeper level, you also understand those around you better. Why? Because we are all human. We all have the same set of emotions, and thinking mechanism, our mind.
Knowing yourself well, is one of the most important parts of having a healthy relationship. Which does not mean, however, that all of your relationships will be easy. In fact, it may mean that some of your relationships will be harder. Why?
Because as you understand yourself better, you may find that you are less compatible with someone you’ve always been compatible with. It can be hard. However, overall, I think you will realize that understanding yourself better creates the opportunity to have the strongest relationships possible.
And, that is the case, because you have created a stronger relationship with yourself first.
How much time do you spend reflecting upon life? Is this something that you do daily, weekly, monthly? How does it work for you, or does it not work for you?
I remember a time, not long ago, when reflection was something I did infrequently. It was not that I didn’t want to reflect upon situations as they arose. More, it was not a skill set that was fully developed within me; and is one now, that I work on daily.
What is reflection?Reflection is basically the process of deeply considering a situation or issue before making a decision or a choice.
Why is having time to reflect important?
As I’ve written in other posts, humans are reactive. Stimulus, response. If we simply react to a situation or issue, however, without the time to reflect on it, we are limiting the possibilities that may present themselves on how to solve that situation or issue.
We can all create more time to reflect upon the situations and issues that are confronting us. It takes actively creating that space; and, that is possible.
How can you add more reflection time into your day?
Slow down your decision-making process – when you believe that a decision needs to be made quickly, consider why that is so? Ask yourself a few questions.
Why is it necessary to make the decision right now?
Has there truly been enough time to seriously consider the decision?
What will happen by waiting a few hours, or a full day, before making the decision?
Add more reflection time into your work day – intentionally create space on your calendar to reflect upon and consider the conversations of the day; and add reflection time into meeting agendas, and, or into conversations you are having during the day.
Add more reflection time into your time off – similarly to your work day, intentionally create time to reflect upon and consider your day. Both during the week and weekend.
Let people around you know that you’ll need time to reflect – let everyone around you know that you’ll need time to reflect upon decisions and choices, if needed; which will help slow down reactivity, and expectations of those around you.
Practice, practice, practice – once you get started, keep going. You can start with smaller amounts of reflection time, and add more as needed, and as you get more comfortable with your new routine.
How will you benefit from adding more reflection time into your day?
Though I cannot say exactly how you will benefit from adding more reflection time into your day, I can tell you how I’ve benefited. Here are a few of the more important benefits of adding more reflection time into my day, and of practicing reflection daily.
Space to breath.
Slowing down, and slowing down those around me.
More time to seriously think about and consider all of the options available to me with any situation or issue that arises in my life.
Knowing that the decisions and choices I’ve made have been thoughtfully and meaningfully considered.
More time with myself, and my thoughts.
How else will you benefit from actively practicing reflection?
There are also a couple more benefits to actively practicing reflection. Here are a few of the ones that have impacted me most.
Seeing how situations and issues that arise are related to other areas of my life, both personally or professionally.
Solving issues in these areas, previously thought of as unrelated.
Seeing past an issue at hand, to possible related issues in the future.
Creating the ability to solve these issues before they arise.
Creating future possibilities by reflecting upon current situations and or issues.
And, creating action plans for these possibilities.
Though there are many other benefits of actively practicing reflection, to really understand the benefits, one must experience the effects of reflecting more often.
Does this mean that I will never again react to a situation or issue?
No. Some situations and issues that arise require making quick decisions and choices. Yet, what I’ve found is that by reflecting upon and fully considering most situations and issues as they arise, there are less quick decisions and choices I need to make. Why?
Because when we react to a situation or issue without fully considering it, we may, inadvertently, be creating more issues – more reactivity follows reaction, simple.
However, when we choose to incorporate reflection into our daily life, we reduce reactivity by intentionally creating the space and time needed to fully consider situations and issues as they arise. Not sure, that’s okay. Whether you’re sure or not, here is my invitation to you.
Create the time to consider this post, or a situation or issue you are currently facing in your life and reflect upon it, and see what you get.