I am the Queen of Avoidance. I say this not as a brag or a proclamation of my greatness, but as a description of the hereditary and culturally upheld nature of this trait.
When I was growing up, there was a familiar refrain “ignore it and it will go away.” Variations of this included “don’t let them bother you and they will go away,” and “don’t pay attention to it or it will get worse.” Basically, if you don’t like it- avoid it and it will not be a problem anymore. This concept came from all directions; from my parents, from school, from media, and from society in general. Everywhere. I wasn’t the first to experience being told this and unfortunately it seems like I won’t be the last. As an adult, I still witness this idea all around me. Constantly.
In my youth, I took it to heart. I don’t like that person? I’ll avoid and ignore them. I don’t like the task I have to do? I will avoid it until it’s unnecessary or someone else does it. I hurt myself? I will pretend I didn’t. I don’t want to make it worse by acknowledging it and I certainly don’t want to make it last forever by paying too much attention to it.
I don’t want more of it. This was the basis of my grasping of denial. As if by acknowledging and accepting what is, I am inviting it to stay forever. The irony of this is that by pushing the discomfort down and away and trying to ignore it, I am inviting it to return again and again. Most likely stronger and louder. Discomfort is a messenger. It will not go away until the message is delivered.
I am here to witness everything that happens around my awareness in this life. All of it. The comfortable and uncomfortable. I cannot be a good witness if I am only able to allow and experience the events outside of my body. There is a tremendous world within this body and it is all a part of my greater life experience. It is all important and it is all crucial to process. Sitting with my inner discomfort in all of its various forms means giving it complete attention and awareness. I shower my pain with awareness. I focus intently on it. This includes feeling pain in my body and not distracting my awareness from it. This includes focusing and getting a task done completely without procrastinating and avoiding it. This includes experiencing the person standing right in front of me and not mentally or verbally talking over what they’re saying to avoid hearing uncomfortable truths. The discomfort will stay exactly as long as it needs to in order to be properly acknowledged. I can either process the message immediately or I can send it away over and over again. Either way, I will be made aware.
The idea of ignoring or denying the current situation now seems asinine to me. It’s dismissive! Especially when it is something that needs to be addressed in a timely fashion. However, there is a key to all of this. Validation. Paying attention. Awareness. Acceptance. You have to acknowledge the discomfort. Thoroughly. Not just a quick “yeah, yeah. I see you.” By deeply acknowledging the message of discomfort the appropriate action will become clear and there is no denial of what is happening. The situation can be experienced and then there is freedom to move forward from a place of learning and growth, not from a place of denial. Denial will lead to regret and in my case anxiety and repetitive intrusive thoughts. “I shouldn’t have done…” “I should have done…” “Why can I never…?” “What is wrong with me?” “If I could just… then…”
It is crucial for me to take time to sit in discomfort. Now that I am aware of my patterns, I have hope that I can move forward from being the Queen of Avoidance. I see denial happening all around me and can now take steps to avoid the hereditary mistake of avoiding the validation. Awareness is the key to change and I am absolutely here to witness everything without and within. The comfortable and the uncomfortable. I will do my best not to deny any aspect of my experience any longer.
What are you avoiding right now? What needs attention that you feel you can’t or shouldn’t offer support to?