It’s tough to stop numbing. We avoid ourselves in a myriad of ways, often quite subtly. Yes, there’s drinking, sex, drugs, all the obvious culprits. But what about everything else you use to keep yourself stuck? This is what you’re doing, with awareness or not. It’s actually much scarier to believe in possibility than to believe you are a victim of your own life. We can stay safe and comfortable when we avoid ourselves. Even if we aren’t all that happy, we gravitate towards the familiar. It’s not that great, we say to ourselves, but things could be so much worse. What if we try and then fail horribly? Better not to try at all.
The problem with thinking this way is that it keeps you stuck in mediocrity when you are capable of magic. If you don’t try, you’re guaranteed to fail. Is that really better? You’re probably avoiding yourself for the majority of the day, every day. You do it when you tell yourself you have to get your household chores done before you sit down to write. You do it when you prioritize running random errands over filming the class you swore you’d teach. You do it when you decide that you’re just too exhausted from work – every day – to attend to the health of your body. You do it by checking social media, chatting casually with friends, and checking every news headline that comes up.
You can even avoid yourself by engaging in self-care and educational activities. I do this all the time. I want to feel better about how I spend my day, so I meditate, practice yoga, journal, and read. I take workshops and classes, all in the name of bettering myself for some future me who will finally take action. The problem is, I do all this to avoid that. Realistically, if I don’t shift my patterns, I’ll keep on doing this forever and never actually use any of it to get where I want to go. That’s not any more useful than numbing myself in another way.
I’m not saying that using drugs and meditating are equivalent as far as their benefits for your life. I am saying that you can use both to avoid what you are afraid to face. I have a huge problem with focus and concentration because I have so many crutches that I use to procrastinate! Rather than sitting down and completing a blog efficiently, I will distract myself a million different ways. Write one paragraph, check Instagram. Write another paragraph, remember I wanted to look something up. Write another, then go on a deep dive shopping for something I might need, but not this instant.
By the time it’s all said and done, I’ve spent five times as long writing a piece and it’s not that good because I wasn’t putting my heart into it. I often spend all day getting my to-do list accomplished, only to put off what I should be prioritizing and not doing it at all. I might do this for a week, a month, even a year. It’s not that I don’t truly want to do those things, as some might suggest. It’s that I know if I really commit to them, I might fail. I also might succeed, and I don’t know what to do with that either. I’ve spent so long keeping myself safely in mediocrity that I don’t know how to handle something better.
I am working on trusting and believing in myself. I know that I keep reinforcing low self-worth by failing to follow through on my visions and dreams. Another way you can avoid yourself is with a self-defeating and judgmental inner voice. Your inner child, the one that holds all your creativity, playfulness, and hope, is quite sensitive. When you speak to yourself this way, you’re saying it to that child. Imagine if you spoke to a little kid outside yourself in the same way. Would you ever? Okay, then you have to work on not doing it to yourself either. You’re killing your own dreams, surely and silently.
So, spend a day noticing where and how you avoid. It could be with other things that are important to you – but they may not need priority in this moment. How would you go about your day if you actually prioritized what you say matters to you? If you knew you had limited time, which you do? Trust me, social media will survive without your incessant interaction. What steps can you take to focus and get yourself on track? Write down all the ways you avoid. Be really honest with yourself. Then write down why you think that is. Be really honest with yourself here as well. It’s important. If you ever want to dig yourself out of these habits, you have to start with radical honesty and a desire to change.
This might not feel great. I just started a weeklong challenge where I’m not supposed to read or watch anything, in order to let my own creativity shine. My reaction surprised me – it made me mad! I’m not allowed to read my self-help and philosophy books? But they benefit me! I’m not allowed to read the writing of others that inspire me? It’s really difficult, and I’m only on day 3. I won’t lie, I’ve slipped up more than once already. The important thing is that it’s teaching me so much about myself. It’s showing me all the ways in which I immerse myself in the creations of others in order to avoid creating. All the ways I delay and distract myself. All the things I do that reinforce to myself that my own creativity is not important and shouldn’t be put first. Basically, the lies and stories in my head are spilling out and forcing me to acknowledge their stupidity.
If you quit avoiding your shit, magic may happen. I’m not promising anything, but it’s likely. There’s no magic without a little work, but it’s really important work. You become self-aware and realize the need to be kind and compassionate with yourself. The bottom line is, for anything to happen, you have to take aligned action towards your purpose. Don’t get bogged down in avoidance. Set yourself free.