Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Avoiding Avoidance and Embracing Difficulities

So much on my mind again.  I've been putting this off until I finished something.  However, I haven't finished yet.  Still, I felt I couldn't go to sleep without getting something down first.

So I think one of the major issues that I'm dealing with is avoidance.  I'm so good at avoiding things.  I don't want to feel lonely so I'll avoid it.  I don't want to feel guilty so I try to ignore it.  I don't want to do my homework so I fall asleep reading.  I don't want to feel shame so I seek temporary gratification.

Inevitably all of these things lead me feeling the initial feeling, only to a greater extent.  So I fall deeper into the rabbit hole.  Now that I'm beginning to realize it I'm working on ways to climb back up.  It's actually pretty hard.  It means embracing rather than running from my feelings.  It has also proven difficult because when you are practicing avoidance you often become so good at it that your mind has allowed you to forget what it was you were avoiding in the first place.  It's really quite bizarre.  I've found myself wanting to get to the root of the problem but when I dive deeper into who I am and why I am that way I find myself longing to avoid the person I uncover.

One thing I can do to try and work to decrease my avoidance behaviors is acknowledge what would happen if I should choose to embrace rather than avoid certain emotions, feelings, conversations, and situations.  Really, what's the worst that could happen?  It could feel pretty awful initially, but then rather than being engulfed in a sea of someone I am not I would instead have the freedom to embrace who I really am.

So let's think about this from a more practical stance.  If I were to embrace the feeling of loneliness it could be really detrimental for a time.  That's right, it's going to hurt and I don't really want to feel that hurt.  It's going to mean that I may feel really alone and as though I don't really have an outlet or anyone to support me.  Then however, I will hopefully realize that I am truly not alone.  I am surrounded by people who care for me and truly desire to invest in my life.  I am surrounded by people who care for me and though their care may not last I am loved by a Creator who made me and adopted me as His own.

If I were to embrace my feelings of guilt I may come to realize that we are all guilty of something.  We're all stained.  None of us are spotless.  To think otherwise would be to lie to myself.  Similarly, holding myself to a standard of perfection and allowing others the benefit of the doubt is simply unjust treatment of myself.  The Lord is the Judge of myself as well.  In the same way that I seek to not judge others I must learn to not judge myself either.  The Lord judges all; I am no exception.  His mercy is perfect and his justice is too.  Judging myself and showing mercy toward others is a double standard.  I must learn to be merciful with myself on the outset as I strive to be with others.

I don't want to do my homework or other necessary life tasks like getting my car fixed because I'm not sure I'm ready to face them.  So I put them off, subconsciously hoping that they will fix themselves.  That my homework will miraculously evaporate and my car will be new again.  Or that I will suddenly have perfect health insurance and won't have to worry about how high my deductible is.  So the longer I put off doing such vital tasks the less time I give myself to really invest in an educated plan to complete them.  However, if I just did them as soon as the thoughts arose I would be able to focus more on them.  Then I would have free time to do what I please.  As it stands currently, worry myself into fits of anxiety, thinking How am I ever going to complete all of this on time?  The solution, or part of it rather, is working hard and doing something now so that later will not regret having avoided the work at hand.  Then, rather than wishing I had time to invest in the things that I enjoy (whatever those may be), I can feel content when I complete a task and seize the moments to invest in what I really want to do.

The final emotion (for now) that I try so hard to avoid is my shame.  This emotion is tied closely to my feelings of guilt listed above.  I feel so ashamed that I haven't done anything productive in my life that I punish myself.  Then, having still done nothing I fall deeper into this cycle of shame.  So, the question remains, what can I do practically to embrace the shame, or rather the realities that produce the shame?  This is a little difficult to describe.  I can realize that shame, for me, comes from a place of lack of inactivity in a desperately hurting world.  How can I do nothing when my brothers and sisters are suffering all around the world from an innumerable amount of atrocities?  How can I ignore the ragged shell of a man holding up a cardboard sign at the intersection?  How can I sit in my room and type on my computer all day while millions are dying from hunger everyday?  How can I ramble on a blog about my own personal flaws when there are children who don't even know if they are loved?

Do you sense the shame building up in your stomach like I do as I type these things?  It's really an uncomfortable feeling, isn't it?  Our society says we're lazy for not doing anything and yet it doesn't tell us just what to do.  What do we make of that?  So I just sit in my room and some part of me hopes that these problems will solve themselves.  Meanwhile, another part of me tries to numb the deep pain that I feel for others.  I think some might call that compassion, but something inside me has taught me to see feel it as shame due to my lack of action.

So I seek to take action.  I seek to do better.  However, I must first seek to embrace the shame.  I must first remember that it is okay to feel compassion for others.  I must remember that I am only one person.  I can only do so much.  If I try do do everything, I'll fail miserably and will likely not accomplish anything fully that matters.  It is better to do something fully than to put my hand in many projects and hope for success.  We are all different people and we all have our own talents.  We were not all made to have our hands in every humanitarian project.  We must realize the potential placed within ourselves and seek to use it to make the world a better place.

Pick a project and run with it.  If you realize that is not the right use of your talents, have the humility to admit it and move on to the next thing!  Don't beat a dead horse if it's not yours to bruise.  The world will be better if you find what your talent is and you use it selflessly.  If it takes some time to find your talent, don't worry.  We don't all come out of the womb knowing exactly what we want to do.  Try different things.  Just don't be crippled in the fear of messing up.  It is through the mistakes and errors that we learn what doesn't work.  Again, do not let the fear of disappointment cripple you. You are more than your mistakes.  You are human and we all make mistakes, that is one of the things that really makes us human after all.

I hope that this encourages you to embrace the difficult emotions, feelings, and situations that you find yourself in.  When we are so concerned about how others will view us or how we will appear to outsiders we forget that our own opinions matter as much as theirs.  Embrace the challenges, do not avoid them.  Then, the times when you do find yourself practicing avoidance behaviors, seek to understand why and correct them.  Correcting these behaviors is about realizing what life would be like if we let these situations, feelings, and emotions rule our lives, which to a certain extent they already are.  If we learn to acknowledge that fact and seek to understand them better, perhaps we can learn to avoid avoidance more and more each day.  None of us desire to be ruled by feelings, situations, or emotions, so in order to change that we must strive to adjust the value and power that we give them.  If we do, I anticipate we will begin to be more productive members of society who work not only for the benefit of ourselves but for others as well.

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