What do you avoid?

You may be avoiding more than you think, because we humans are crafty and amazingly adept at self deception. If you are willing to examine your habits, your likes and dislikes, you may find some interesting information about yourself.

Start with this simple phrase “I don’t want to ______”

How often do you hear yourself thinking or saying that? Are there any patterns to the activities you don’t want to do? How many of these activities have you decided you don’t want to do before you have ever done them? For me, I recognize the avoidance behavior now because I feel young, as in childish and immature, not as in vibrant and youthful.

Examples for me usually include something social, but it is more complicated than simply having other people involved that makes it seem like something I don’t want to do.

 

I don’t want to:

(I have never and think I will never)

  • Join the PTA
  • Run for government office
  • Volunteer at my kids’ school
  • Host a dinner party
  • Knock on the neighbor’s door to say hello
  • Eat slimy seafood like clams, oysters, squid, octopus
  • Dive – Skydive, scubadive
  • Ask a question at a parent’s meeting
  • Live in a tiny home (my house is small, but come on, those are insane)

 

I don’t want to:

( I have done these before but will try hard not to again)

  • Go camping
  • Attend a party for no purpose – like a neighbor’s backyard bonfire, cocktail party, work picnic, friend’s dinner party
  • Attend a sporting event
  • Eat a pickle. Actually I don’t want to be in the same room as a pickle
  • Make cold calls
  • climb a mountain with a guide going at mountain goat pace
  • paint an outdoor mural
  • Face a grizzly bear in the wild
  • Confront a psychopath
  • Get pregnant
  • Drive through that part of the city just because google map said so
  • Get pulled over by a cop
  • Get involved with lawyers
  • Order a meal I have to yell to get – Chipotle
  • Swim in the ocean
  • Ride the roller coaster

 

I don’t want to:

(I have done these before but stopped, and I am trying to start again)

  • Walk around my block
  • Say hello to other parents
  • Visit my brother
  • Go to the dentist and OB/GYN
  • Forgive myself
  • Talk with Hubby openly
  • Have career goals/plans
  • Drive through certain neighborhoods
  • sleep at night
  • let anyone touch me
  • stop eating sugar
  • make a real life friend
  • go to movies with hubby
  • take kids places without hubby
  • go to a concert
  • plant flowers
  • teaching
  • presentations
  • create – paint, draw, sculpt, music, write, build, craft

 

Basically I am figuring out which of my avoidance habits are based on fears, and which are true dislikes. And then I am figuring out which fears are worth tackling, because some clearly aren’t. I would be terrified and find it impossible to skydive or scubadive, but I see no reason to overcome those fears, because they aren’t holding me back, and aren’t keeping me from experiencing a full life. (some of you thrillseekers may disagree) Anxiety is hard, but I can manage.

Some of these items I have been avoiding because of pain or emptiness within me. I have been unable to enjoy, connect or feel what I used to feel, so I stopped doing what I used to do. I didn’t know I was actively avoiding them, but it hurts to think about how something used to feel and compare it to the emptiness. Depression is hard, but I can manage.

Some things I avoid because they are triggering, for flashbacks or memories of my trauma. I am learning new skills and tools every week in my counseling program to cope with these. Some items I think I can manage and some I think are completely broken and struggle with the effort I need to put into this program. PTSD is hard, but I can manage.

My goal is to slowly avoid less and less, incorporating more back into my life at a rate that does not overwhelm me. So far so good. I’ll share some of my progress – and setbacks –  in another post.

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6 thoughts on “What do you avoid?

  1. As I read your list, I mentally checked myself. Some of those things I do. Some I avoid. Some will never be on my want to try list. Skydiving. I adhere to “If at first you don’t succeed, skydiving is not for you.” LOL! I’m very much a rarely succeed on the first try. Scuba diving and swimming in the ocean go hand in hand for me. I’ll do neither. Scuba diving or snorkeling would be a problem since I don’t like anything over my face. No CPAP for sleep apnea either. I used to hate the ocean. Unfortunately, rather than keep an eye on me, NM terrorized me into not swimming in the ocean at the age of seven. I’ve made progress on that one. With the encouragement of a trusted friend, we visited the beach. Now, I love visiting the ocean and walking along the shore. I even have an ocean relaxation CD. I’m not sure I’ll ever conquer the fear of swimming. Living in a landlocked state, I figure it doesn’t really matter. I look forward to reading about your failures and successes. I figure the failures are as important as the successes, because the failure means you at least tried, which is a huge success. Go you!

    • The ocean is a bunch of fears and other triggers for me, forgot that going on a cruise will never happen either. I could do an entire post about the ocean actually. I’m sorry NM did that to you. I have horrible memories of the ocean with AF as well. That is wonderful you have made some progress and have a good friend to support you. I also am landlocked, can’t afford to get to the ocean, so not a problem for me. And yes! things on my face are part of the fears, I can’t breathe even when they tell me I can, never really figured that one out, not sure I’m ready to explore it but probably should at some point. Even respirator masks, like for cleaning or painting I flip out and everyone else around me says they work fine.

      • I’m sorry, too, you’re AF caused you so much pain. As to anything on the face, I even have trouble with foundation. Want an instant bout of panic mixed with rage? A shirt or dress stuck when I’m pulling it over my head. Hate pullover stuff. Wearing t-shirts and the like require a precise method of putting it on and taking it off to ensure it doesn’t get stuck. I’d forgotten about that. Keep fighting for you. You are worth it.

  2. Interesting to be able and take a step back and notice those things we don’t want to do, and align them based on fear, lack of knowledge, or interest, etc. I have recently been coming to a realization that I tend to avoid things that I don’t believe I can be successful in doing, as in … if I don’t begin, then I can’t fail. I’ve clearly defined a pattern of unwillingness to fail.

    As you have pointed out (and Judy, above), sometimes our failures are the most valuable pieces of information or experiences in our arsenal of survival techniques. Accepting failure as part of the human experience is a difficult hurdle for those folks that hold themselves to a very strict standard.

    Or, as one of my (brilliant) therapists once shared with me … we don’t need other people to break us down or admonish us or show intolerance for our mistakes, because we are quite busy doing such a good job of it ourselves. We would never treat someone we treasured in such a way, and yet we find it compulsory to be incredibly harsh with ourselves. The learning curve has a way of winding around in circles at times. Identifying what we don’t want to do can help us keep moving forward. Enjoyed reading this post. Thought provoking, and true. Valuable information.

  3. Anxiety is hard. Depression is hard. PTSD is hard. Yes. I’m finding myself falling into all kinds of avoidance these days. I miss myself a lot. I even believe I’m afraid of myself and my own judgement. Something I’m trying not to feel but it’s there. I question everything. I like how you are approaching this.

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