As part of my “chains” work, and on the advice of Jerry, I’ve added a new, 2 minute exercise to my daily routine. I ask myself: “What are you avoiding” I take some time to write a response in evernote, and then I ask: “Why are you avoiding it?” I’m only a few days in but I’ve found this to be very powerful for me.
I think even when we’re not thinking about the things we’re avoiding, they are always at the surface of our minds. I noticed that unlike the ideas exercise, the answer to this question comes almost immediately. I definitely know what I’m avoiding, and it’s absolutely burning calories, even if I’m not always thinking about it. The harder part has been asking and answering the why. Sometimes, often, the why is a “weakness,” an admission of a mistake, a fear of failure, a fear of exposure (I’ve found for me a common reason for avoiding something is a fear of being exposed as a fraud…”wait a minute, you aren’t really an entrepreneur!”). We often know the answer to the why too, but it can be painful.
Ultimately I don’t think the purpose of this exercise is to pump myself up to face whatever I’m avoiding. I don’t think that’s a sustainable solution. Instead feels like I’m strengthening my noticing skills, and what I’ve found even more is that it is like the 7 year old me shining a flashlight under my bed. There is no monster. There is no great horrible, life threatening reason to avoid whatever I’m avoiding. It makes the things I’ve avoiding now easier to face, and I hope this practice makes avoiding even less common in the future.
One comment on “What are you avoiding?”
Really great post. I love the idea of asking “What are you avoiding?” That’s a REALLY powerful question. And, I think your observation that we are “burning calories” even when we are not actively avoiding that “thing” is spot-on. I guess the challenge is to live a lifestyle where we’re truly not prone to avoiding things in the first place. I think this is where values (e.g. honesty, openness, willingness to make mistakes) can really help.