Artful Avoidance

Once I (fill in the blank), then I will (fill in the blank).

Sound familiar? This notion of delaying action on one thing until after you move through something else? Well, that’s some major mental barrier chatter right there, and it’s been coming up for a number of clients lately. I totally get it on a lot of levels, experience this kind of serious avoidance myself, and think it’s something a lot of people have to work with on an ongoing basis.

For me personally, for example, I pretty desperately need to clean out my closet. I can and have come up with endless excuses, and believe me, I can get VERY creative.  It’s getting harder to avoid, however, as sweaters fall on my head while I’m fishing something else out. Dealing with my closet would force me to confront certain truth about myself I don’t want to face, whether it’s about my age, my style, my size, or some amount I’ve spent on something I was sure I’d wear many many times yet still has the tags on it. Cleaning out my closet is clearly an exercise in being completely honest with myself in a way I haven’t wanted to, and it’s totally a metaphor for me for other mountains in my life I need and want to climb, but keep putting off.

What are your impassable action items? The junk drawer? The piles of paper that keep piling up? A tricky conversation with a loved one? Setting a limit with a co-worker? Asking your boss for a raise? Everyone has at least one thing that feels huge and difficult to the point of more readily employing the tried and true avoidant tactic of: Once I (fill in the blank), then I will (fill in the blank).

I think what makes this especially tough to work through is the fact that we don’t have crystal balls at our disposal. Oh to be able to see and know the future! Then we would know exactly the right decision would be, that we were on the right path, that everything would turn out just fine. The scary truth is however, that our inability to foresee the future can leave us with such a deep level of what-if-I-make-a-mistake-and-die-itis, that we end up frozen, doing nothing, making no decisions, changing nothing. Yikes.

You already know, of course, that mistakes will be made. And I don’t have any different magic to give you that’s different from what you already know: mistakes are where the growth and learning happens. In fact, they’re how you sharpen your decision making skills. We can’t predict the future, and so all we have at our disposal is really to soften into trusting our gut and just go for it, mess ups and all. One positive outcome? The more you decide to trust yourself, the more trusting you become of yourself. A good thing.

And, remember my strict philosophy about making choices: “ Every decision you make is the right one because it’s the one you made.” Making a choice (ANY CHOICE) moves you forward on the path. It certainly doesn’t mean you can’t tweak and shift and make different decisions about what comes next. It just means you’re committing to an action and seeing what happens, win or lose.

Ok, you convinced me. Time to get to that closet 🙂

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