The human mind is amazing. So much goes on inside our brains that we are never conscious of. One of the things that I see over and over again with my clients who are engaged with major change is avoidance. Sometimes it is intentional, but often they are unaware that it is even happening.
It may be an old tape that is playing. Or a relationship that needs to be addressed…but is way too uncomfortable to tackle. Perhaps it is “the one thing I really hate to do.” At work it may be a commitment issue with a key player. At home, maybe it is anchors that need to be cut loose. But in every case, the avoidance becomes a form of self-sabotage. After all, if you didn’t need to address it to move forward, you would be ignoring it, rather than avoiding it. There is a difference.
What are you avoiding?
This is a difficult, and often painful, question. Yet it is a critical one to hear, to answer, and to address if you are undertaking a major change. It is best heard early in the process of preparing for your change journey. Maybe it should be tackled in the near term; maybe you need to put some things in place before tackling it. But you can’t have it both ways…succeeding with your change and avoiding the tough issues will not work.
I am single, and on a journey to find my soulmate. Not too long ago I met someone on a social dating site. We chatted for hours over the course of a few weeks. There seemed to be a real heartfelt connection. We seemed to be aligned on a great deal in different aspects of our lives. He told me that he is out, except at work; at the time, I didn’t know the nature of his work. While I am out completely, I can understand that some workplaces may be less welcoming. We had one pizza date…I discovered that “out, except at work” was a bit broader than I had anticipated. As a Catholic priest, he is neither out at his workplace, nor his residence (with fellow priests), nor within many miles of his community where he may encounter parishioners…all places that translate for him to being “at work.” In his case, he is conscious of his avoidance; and, it is unlikely that he will find that lasting heart connection with another man that he is seeking until he addresses it.
Being conscious of what you are avoiding is one thing; doing something about it is quite another. The more strongly you avoid it, the more likely it is important that you tackle it…and the less likely you will unless you are wholeheartedly committed to success. Are you?
If yes, then the next thing to do is to figure out when, and how, you are going to take this monster on. How far forward can, and should, you go with your change before addressing the issue? Are there things that you need to get in place before you do? What do you need to do to prepare yourself? What type of energy (physical, spiritual, emotional, mental) do you need to have in reserve, and how much of that energy, in order to move through this? Are there others who need to prepare as well? Who can provide guidance? Who can you call on for support? Whose counsel do you trust as you consider alternative approaches? How do you move past avoidance to address and resolve this thing?
Give yourself the time and energy to answer these questions. I often refer to my mind as a nursery, and I see a similar thing often happening for those I work with. Plant the seed. Nurture it with thoughts, questions, etc. Then, let it be. Don’t forget it, but don’t hover over it. The answers will come. For some, it is literally in their dreams. For others, it may be when journaling, while exercising, during a solitary drive, or in a coaching session.
And Do It!
When the time is right, stop avoiding. “Take it on!” “Crack the nut!” “Tackle it!” “Break through the shell!”
When you do, I encourage you to do so from a place of strength. There may be fear, or nervousness. There may be apprehension. There may be an urge to delay. You may want to continue to avoid. Simply put, if it is the difference between failure and success, when the time is right, do it.
As the saying goes, “The first step is the hardest.” Make sure that you are rested, that your energy stores are sufficient. Make this the priority of the day. “If I only do one thing today, this is it!” And do it!
What have you found works for you to break through avoidance? Comment below.