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Confronting avoidance. Thursday October 27, 2016

I have issues with avoidance. If something upsets me, I won't think about it. If something causes me anxiety, I don't do it, or I will do it in a convoluted way, e.g. I will reach my destination by travelling further than I need to avoid the anxiety.

I've never had issues with this facet of my personality. Surely everyone avoids things that they don't like? Don't like coffee? Don't drink it. Frightened of spiders? Get someone else to remove them from the bath for you. It's only recently that I've started to realise that my avoidant tendencies are actually quite detrimental to my wellbeing. I believed that this avoidance was protecting me, which, in a way, it was. But the harsh reality is, that it was, and is, limiting my life and my ability to enjoy it.

Hand in hand with my avoidance is my sheer terror of confrontation. I need to turn all of this on its head and start confronting avoidance head on. In Ruby Wax's books 'Sane New World' and 'Mindfulness for the Frazzled' she writes about creating new neural pathways in the brain to reinforce new patterns of thinking and behaviours and breaking the pathways for thinking and behaviours which are not beneficial for your mental health.

I'm doing this by taking small steps and starting to confront the things which I have been avoiding. Some of these avoidances have been in my life for a significant number of years, and so those neural pathways are going to take a lot of effort to break down and replace with more productive ones. It's not going to be easy, and there are times where I really don't have the energy to make the effort to change, but I also know that each day I start afresh and I can try again. Each attempt to confront my avoidance is paving a new pathway. I've heard it likened to taking a walk in the woods; those well-trodden pathways are well maintained and easy to walk. The paths I need to take are over-grown and difficult to pass, but each time I take them, the path becomes easier to walk, and those other pathways start to become less used and overgrown.

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Eva Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 7:10am

Good luck Rats, you've done an amazing job to identify what you need to do, that's half the battle.

Raising a paw to the prickles, from a very small h'pig.

DAVE Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 7:48am

Hi Rats,

I deal with all issues, especially those which are easiest to avoid, those that pull us emotionally apart, I deal with rhe hardest...FIRST because it is all part of our make up, to take the line of least resistence, the NEGATIVE easy way out.....But unfortunately, in so doing we invite procrastination, which in turn attracts a 'build up' a memory bank in the Sub-Conscious, where these issues may lie for days, weeks, months, years or the rest of our lives with BITTER memories and a consequence which KEEPS reminding us that we no good.

STOP there...If it is an issue with a relative, friend, stranger or partner, then if at odds, we need to do know what do.

If there's a rift, I say " I'm really sorry if I have offended you in any way, I hope you can forgive me, so that we can regain the friendship we had prior to this altercation".

You and I can do NO more, and if the response is negative, and they don't respond and forgive you...You are now at LIBERTY, free of the burden of Sub-Conscious GUILT, because you have done the right thing, and cannot reproach yourself over that particular issue ever again....REMEMBER that this approach is instructed EVEN if you are NOT the perpetrator in this issue...You do not need to feel 'A DOORMAT' but a mature individual.

I do not ALLOW myself to EVER become OFFENDED by no matter what anyone says, does, thinks, or third party hearsay, because I will NOT ALLOW them that power over me...I keep my own counsel, and act upon all confrontational issues, both large and small in the same manner.

This is the only HONEST way I can accept that in so doing...This Inner Peace and Happiness, I keep banging on about, comes into my life, into my mind and into my Sub-Conscious.

I have a conscience free of contention towards all persons, I keep positive in all facets of my life.

Being honest with ourselves and all others, means that if I'm dishonest, I have to retain a bloody good' memory, (forgive my language).

I hope Rats that in your plight to AVOID issues, you may like to put in to practice the aforementioned...It works for me and with practice it WILL work for you....Good Luck God Bless you.


Mary Wednesday Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 7:57am

I recognise this. I hate confrontations too. Sadly, so does my husband and some issues get very big before we take action. I will remember your overgrown paths and Dave's wise words.

LP Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 3:33pm

Hi Mary, Just wanted to say that I'm thinki g of you and hanging in there with you, beside you in thought until you come out the other side. Xxx

Hopeful One Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 8:03am

Hi RATS- it is cheering to read that you have found a way to tackle your avoidance. Avoidance is the hall mark of anxiety which itself is a reaction to some future loss -real or imagined. You are doing the right thing. 'Nerve cells that are wired together fire together' the basis of the new circuits you are laying down which will replace the old avoidance/anxiety circuits in due course of time .Good luck.

Laughter is a good way to lower anxiety( and therefore avoidance) as our perspectives change when we laugh with the endorphins laughter endorphins neutralising the anxiety cortisol'

Tom is applying for a job as a signalman for the local railroad and is told to meet the inspector at the signal box. The inspector decides to give Tom a quiz, : "What would you do if you realised that two trains were heading towards each other on the same track?" Tom says: "I would switch one train to another track." "What if the lever broke?" asks the inspector. "Then I'd run down to the tracks and use the manual lever down there," answers Tom. "What if that had been struck by lightning?" challenges the inspector. "Then," Tom continued, "I'd run back up here and use the phone to call the next signal box." "What if the phone was being used?" "In that case," Tom argued, "I'd run to the street level and use the public phone near the station." "What if that had been vandalised?" "Oh well," said Tom, "in that case I would run into town and get my Uncle Leo." This puzzled the inspector, so he asked, "Why would you do that?" "Because he's never seen a train crash."

S Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 8:13am

Thanks Rats! I recognise this and think of those well trodden paths as sheep tracks that they trot along seemingly unaware sometimes that there is a potentially better way! My mind seems to love these tracks! In terms of confrontation, I realised that I often think ' I can't say that or tell them that' when in fact many people would find a way to say something politely and assertiveky- that I am avoiding. Thank you for writing about and sharing about this. Good luck with the undergrowth- step by step as you say. Sx

s Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 8:35am

Hi Rats. Well done on recognising the paths need changing. Let us know how you get on. I am similar, I hate confrontation. I have learned to deal with some confrontations...count to 10 and do it. But the bigger 'confrontations', paths I need to change (my own internal battles) I am finding more overwhelming. I know I need to do something but never quite seem to get there, it doesn't help not knowing where to change the path to. It's a an isolating, uncertain and miserable place as I watch the world progress around me. Hmmm. Well, here's a start I suppose, I have never written that down before. Thanks Rats.

Sophie Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 9:04am

Hello, i recognise this too! In the last 12 months or so I've tried to address this same issue by being more assertive, even though people around me might not even notice anything, for me the feeling of 'sticking up for myself' feels like a huge step. For so long I have made allowances for other peoples behaviours, regardless of how they make me feel. I've been brought up to 'rise above it', 'ignore them, they're jealous', 'that's just how they are', and a whole host of other things which actually have allowed people to act with complete disregard to how they make me feel. I hate confrontation, but I've tried to hold people more accountable for their actions (in as diplomatic and fair way as I can muster! we all make mistakes, after all) and yes it means I have lost some 'good' friends in doing so. As sad as that has been, im proud of myself for respecting myself enough and also for displaying that self respect to others.

Good luck everyone in taking back control of these situations that we find difficult. :)

LP Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 3:30pm

Here here Sophie! me too! LP x

Tutti Frutti Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 9:48am

Hi Rats
I really recognize this. I often put things off until they are really urgent and then force myself to do them. One thing I find particularly hard is asking for help, and procrastinating on this one just makes it worse really. I have missed the odd occasion through not having got a babysitter before. I also have an issue with confrontation which is sometimes at the route of the avoidance.

What you say about the neural pathways makes sense. I might try those books. Thanks for the recommendation.

Good luck with your work on addressing your avoidance. Sending hugs.

Love TF xoxo

LP Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 3:29pm

Hi Rats,
This is a big subject for me. I'm sure that alot of my decisions, routines, how I behave, have come about from a oidance of stress anxiety and depression.
Like you it seems ok, but I agree that the more we avoid, the more limited we become. I've watched my parents become limited to a tiny comfort zone of a life when they are still physically able to do and enjoy so much more than the tv and local shop! Their choice, I'm not judging, just am aware that it's a slippery slope.
Thanks for a great blog. LP :)

The Gardener Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 4:21pm

Good 'think piece' Rats. I DO avoid and procrastinate - but it takes over my brain and for any peace I have to do something about it. Like so many people I hate asking for help - recently it has come flooding in from an unexpected source - teenagers on holiday - they're lovely - tough, intelligent, cheerful - only snag they go too fast for me, as I pant up three flights of stairs after them. LP, fascinated about what you say about your parents - do you think that they just find doing things stressful? My mother, aged 70, decided she must not open letters, might worry her, so family took over. Must move to ground-floor flat to avoid stairs (she desperately needed the exercise) gave up her tiny front garden - she was proud of it - but must not bend. She lived till nearly 100 - to me, it was an awful life - but whether her (and others, like LP's parents) don't like challenges or don't have the brain capacity for it. After a manic morning getting so much done I think I MIGHT like a life like that, but know I'd hate it. Sufficient unto the day etc.

LP Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 11:15pm

Hi TG, in my mother's case it is all based on fear. Fear of taking risks, fear of doing things incase she falls, incase my father collapses, just feeling more vulnerable. She's always catasrophised about absolutey everything anyway. It's as if she's convinced herself that she's less capable than she is. I think that gor both of them, alot of it has to do with motivation as well. Great to hear about the helpful teenagers! LPxx

Peter Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 5:04pm

Rats, I'm reminded of the Baz Lurman song 'Wear sunscreen' from a few years back. One line went something like...'do one thing you are afraid of every day.' I frequently forget this advice but it is always helpful when I do remember it! Keep doing.

the room above the garage Thu, Oct 27th 2016 @ 9:31pm

Hello Rats, I could have written this myself! Identify much and will be re-reading all advice and suggestions again so I have a fighting chance. Thank you for it, love ratg x.

Nicco Sat, Oct 29th 2016 @ 2:41am

Thanks for your interesting blog. I avoid things I'm afraid I won't be able to do well enough, or things that I find confusing. I do sometimes ask for help and am learning not to feel a failure if I have to do this. I also hated confrontation, but only with friends and family - anyone else would get both barrels as I went through a 'don't get sad, get mad' phase in order to avoid depression - my thinking behind this was that I could manage my anger better than I could manage my depression. Wrong! I'm now trying to find a middle polite but assertive line in which to treat everyone, friends, family and unknowns alike, which isn't easy, having grown up in a very violent household where those who shouted loudest or hit hardest were heard, got their needs met and even looked upon proudly. One family member learned the only way he could survive in this environment was to shout and hit louder and harder than anyone else, even more than the 'rule-setter', another got out as quickly as he could, while my mother and i retreated inwards into our own provate depressive hells of despair and panic. I finally realised, years later, that I, too, could get results if I shouted and hit - not proud of that - but think it was probably a necessary part of my journey into more self-knowledge in how to treat myself and others safely, politely, assertively, non-aggressively and kindly, and I'm still learning! I guess life is one long learning curve! Best and Peaceful Wishes to You, Rats.

Sally Sun, Oct 30th 2016 @ 6:35am

I can identify with what you've written very strongly, Nicco. Similar sort of family. Similar sort of journey for me. Thanks for sharing it so eloquently. All helps. :-)

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