I was thinking today about all of the ways we avoid our feelings. What's funny is that many of us, or dare I say most of us, don't even know what we are feeling much of the time. So therefore, if we are not consciously aware of our feelings, how do we know we are avoiding them? Crazy huh? So, what if we are? (you might ask) What's so bad about that?
Here is the short version of the answer to that question. When we avoid our feelings, especially when they are unpleasant, they don't just go away. Instead they just show up in other ways. Most of the time the ways they show up are not really serving us, and they can morph into a separate problem or situation for us. Some examples are overeating or eating when you are not hungry. It may be over-drinking to numb out what you don't want to feel. You may spend too much time surfing around social media or watching too much TV and Netflix.
The list can go on and on. I am not suggesting one is worse than the other, I am simply saying they are all ways of escaping what we don't care to feel in any given moment. Instead, you divert your attention to something else.
The secondary result is that you have a new problem. You may be overweight, or drinking too much or not accomplishing other things you know you want to because you are busy doing "that other thing". We think it's easier to focus on something else than the thing you are avoiding. Many of us add insult to injury by beating ourselves up for not doing what we think we should be doing.
There is a simple solution to help you begin to change this cycle. If you find yourself doing something in excess, pause for a moment and ask yourself what you've been thinking about or trying to avoid. If you realize it's something that makes you feel like crap or stresses you out, you may just have been given your first clue.
Try sitting down with whatever it is you are feeling for a minute or two before you turn to your normal "go to" that ends up not feeling so good after all. If you need to, give it a bit longer. You may find the worst of it is allowing the feeling to be there long enough for it to do its thing and process itself. It's possible you don't need to create something else to feel bad about instead.
Until next time,
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