Overtime however, we can get into patterns of avoidance where we automatically avoid things because we remember them as negative. We remember that certain experiences made us feel sad, rejected or overwhelmed so we teach ourselves to stay far, far away from them.
And viola! By the time we are adults, we end up avoiding hundreds of things everyday! But we don’t necessarily notice it! It’s subconscious.
Just like learning to ride a bicycle naturally, we learn to avoid naturally.
So what are you avoiding? Do you want to find out what the hundreds of things are that you avoid everyday day so that you can be a more happy, effective and successful person?
Well, first things first. We have to find out why avoidance is bad for you and how it can harm you.
Why should I stop avoiding?
You might be asking yourself “why is avoidance such a bad thing? It helps me avoid pain. What’s so bad about that?” To answer your questions, here are three powerful reasons you should stop avoiding.
1. Firstly, many of the associations we have made with different experiences are inaccurate or flawed
Here is an example; Every time a young girl put up her hand in class to ask a question, the other children laughed at her. After this happened several times, the girl came to the conclusion that asking questions makes you look silly. So she stopped asking questions.
This conclusion that the girl made was actually an inaccurate conclusion. Perhaps in that situation, the other children thought she looked silly but this does not mean that in every situation asking questions makes you look silly. However, the girl spent the rest of her life avoiding asking for help or asking questions to others to avoid looking silly and feeling embarrassed.
2. Avoiding uncomfortable or painful situations means that we are not addressing the root of the problem. Instead, we are allowing it to grow and control a part of our life.
In the example above, the girl let her fear of looking silly control a part of her life. This limited her from getting valuable advice from other people, which compromised many areas of her life.
3. Avoiding pain means we take fewer risks and limit ourselves from achieving greater success
Life involves many risks! When we avoid pain, we will avoid taking risks. This is because risks can lead to pain or on the other hand, success.
But what is so bad about pain? In this instance, when I refer to pain I mean emotional pain.
People limit themselves so much just to avoid feeling humiliated or rejected. But what is the worst that will happen by feeling humiliated or rejected?
We need to learn to accept ourselves and know that we have value regardless of what other people think
If someone thinks your silly, then so what! If someone rejects you, then so what! They are not worth your company to begin with.
So if the worst that can happen by taking a risk is humiliation and rejection and the best outcome can be achieving something amazing, it should be an easy choice to take the risk.
When you avoid pain, you also avoid taking risks and achieving greater success.
If you’re convinced that you need to stop avoiding things and are ready to find out exactly what you avoid subconsciously on a day-to-day basis then keep reading.
How do we find out what we avoid?
We avoid things that make us feel pain or that we perceive as a potential threat. It makes sense right? Obviously we don’t want to have negative experiences such as getting rejected, feeling humiliated or feeling scared.
So a good starting point to realizing what you avoid is to learn what kind of negative experiences you are the least fond of. In other words, what is painful to you? Is it rejection? Is it failure?
Here is an activity to help you figure this out
Write a list of characteristics about yourself whether you think others will agree on them or not.
Things you might put on your list are:
I am successful, I am likable, I am beautiful, I am funny, I am attractive.
Start by writing the things that are the most difficult to write about yourself with the idea in mind that someone were to read your list once complete (you don’t really have to show anybody your list, but imaging that someone will read it after will help bring out your real emotions).
Here is an example;
“I am attractive”
This might be very difficult for you to put on paper, particularly with the thought that someone else will read it after. This shows that there is a good chance that you have pain associated with feeling attractive. If someone reads that on your list, you might fear that they will think “what!…you’re are not attractive!” and therefore leading to a feeling of rejection and thus pain. If this sounds like you, then there is a good chance that you avoid risking pain in this area.
So maybe that means you avoid dating people you think are better looking than you because then you are less likely to be rejected. Or perhaps you don’t put yourself out there in social situations because you think people will judge you and think you are not good looking enough.
So write a list and try to identify what areas you may be trying to avoid pain in. Here is a list of examples that you may like to use;
I am interesting I am likable I am deep I am valuable
I am smart I am wanted I am sexy I am assertive
I am attractive I am belong I am courageous I am happy
I am successful I am funny I am strong I am capable
I am beautiful I am fun I am tough I am friendly
How do I avoid in my daily life?
Great! You have taken a big step in becoming aware of the things you avoid. Now we will take a look at how the things you avoid translate into your daily behavior. This is an important step to deal with your avoidances.
From your list that you have written, try to identify what things you may do to avoid feeling pain in those areas. Do this for each statement that you feel is an area that may lead to avoidance.
Here is an example “I am capable and successful”.
To avoid people thinking that this is untrue of you might do the following things;
- Avoid asking people for help to avoid looking incapable
- Avoid asking questions – just in case it is a ‘stupid question’
- Avoid talking about yourself with a lot of confidence or making people have a high expectation of you in order to avoid failure
For example, if you are learning to play an instrument, you may avoid telling people about it or bringing it to attention. This way you avoid that people might think you are a failure or not good enough if you don’t do so well.
Avoid taking risks because of fear of failure
Avoiding risk taking is a great example of how we subconsciously avoid. Avoiding risk taking means that you avoid potential rejection, humiliation and failure. To learn more, read this article on how taking risks everyday WILL change your life (even if you fail).
Some final Tips
Remember to challenge your beliefs about yourself because many of these beliefs are inaccurate!
Challenging your beliefs can be difficult especially when you have had them your whole life. It will take time, effort, patience and commitment to reprogram your subconscious mind with more effective and accurate beliefs.
Don’t dwell on negative thoughts – in order prevent them from getting in your mind (and therefore your sub conscience).
Keep making an effort to become aware of the things that you avoid and how you avoid them in your daily life. I’m sure you will begin to discover a lot as you make an effort to become more aware.
Interesting fact: Did you know that on average we have 50,000 thoughts a day. That means that if just 10% are negative thoughts – that’s 5,000 negative thoughts a day!
A final thing to remember is that you need to make the decision to change. If you don’t want to change, you won’ change. It’s all about the power of choice and we can choose our own outcome.
I challenge you to start right now! Take a risk and leave a comment down below. Don’t avoid it!
Share with us which pain you are avoiding. We promise we won’t bite. Ow yeah, you can also just say hello.