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mw editorial

when avoidance blocks change

April 24, 2020

Change, even for the best, can be scary. Sometimes we avoid positive change because the unknown can be daunting, and we are scared of making the wrong choice. Sometimes we avoid change because we get comfortable with our patterns, even if they are no longer serving us. The short term benefits of avoidance are that you can temporarily escape the discomfort of trying something new, but in the long term avoidance dis-inhibits growth and can make us feel “stuck.” If you avoid taking risks just because you’re scared, it may be holding you back.

Avoidance can feel very safe if we need to make a big change that we are scared to make, like changing jobs. It may feel comfortable to avoid at first, but in the long term you may miss a big opportunity. If you notice that you’re trying to escape temporary discomfort and sacrificing a long-term benefit, it may be time to address that discomfort head-on. 

Discomfort is usually an indicator that there is room for growth. If you get uncomfortable asking your co-worker to do their fair share, you may realize you have trouble with confrontation in other areas of your life. Really examining this discomfort and learning to sit in it will help you determine what patterns need breaking.

Sitting in discomfort sounds, well, uncomfortable, but the long term benefits outweigh the momentary escape.   If you’re feeling anxious about confronting a situation head-on you can also check the facts, and ask yourself “what’s the worst that can happen, and so what if it does?” Often we get so wrapped up in our own heads we overemphasize the negative consequences, so it can be important to ground ourselves in reality before we move forward. Staying goal oriented and reminding yourself the discomfort is worth it will also help you put discomfort in its place. Discomfort is only temporary!

Making a change is never easy, and avoidance is a coping skill that we all use from time to time, but it is important to notice when avoidance is really preventing us from living our lives fully. If avoidance is holding you back, it may be time to tackle your discomfort and take a risk. You may surprise yourself!


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