I have been avoiding. It’s been a long time since I posted to this blog. Whole seasons have come and gone. I’ve had some fun and experienced some challenges, and in the back of my mind have been these niggling thoughts about the blog. Most of the time, the thoughts have been something like this: “You could turn this into a blog post!,” “You used skills; now write about it!,” or “It’s been 1, 4, 10 months since you’ve written a blog post about skills use!” And yet, the avoidance continued.
The difficulty with avoidance is that it has the potential to build upon itself. For most people including myself, avoidance is fueled by anxiety and in turn, it fuels shame. About a month after my last blog post, I felt as though another blog post was due, and I was having difficulty finding the time for it, which increased my anxiety. This anxiety prompted a freeze response, which made it hard to actually make writing happen. And because writing wasn’t happening, I began to have ineffective, shame-based thoughts about this (“This shouldn’t be so hard,” “People expect more from you,” “Just finish all the half-written posts you’ve started!”), which then increased the intensity of the anxiety, which led to more avoidance, which led to more shame.
So avoidance was an anxiety and shame management solution. And it works! Because if I didn’t think about the blog, then I wouldn’t experience the anxiety associated with writing it and the shame associated with not writing it. And this reinforced avoidance. However, every now and then, I’d think about the blog. And the anxiety and shame would increase.
The emotion regulation skill Accumulating Positive Experiences is broken down into two parts – short-term and long-term. Beginning steps in each of these areas include “Avoid avoiding.” In order to accumulate the benefit of engaging in positive experiences, it is important to actually engage in the positive experience. And for me, writing is a positive experience. I usually enjoy it – particularly when I’m not writing a research paper. Writing also makes me feel accomplished and helps me to build mastery. Utilizing these skills regularly helps me reduce my vulnerability to negative emotions. And so, I must avoid avoiding by acting opposite to anxiety and shame. Acting opposite to anxiety, in this case, means approaching that which anxiety prompted me to avoid – writing a blog post, and posting. Acting opposite to shame, in this case, involves talking about that which prompted the shame – my avoidance of writing a blog post.
So here it is, a long overdue post about the amount of avoidance I’ve engaged in, and my choice to (finally) act opposite and just write the thing. More blog posts to come (regularly).
**Lokah samastha sukhino bhavantu. May all the beings in all the world be well.**
One thought on “Avoiding avoidance by writing this blog post”
This really touched a nerve for me. I am an expert avoider and really struggle with challenging that behavior. I’m also a therapist and love that you shared this on your blog.