Befriending avoidance


I have to confess I have many areas of my inner and outer life I tend to avoid. A good example of this would be conflict - I just find it hard to enter any situation where there might be conflict or confrontation. I am not talking about war zones here - just two people disagreeing! Some part of me avoids it like the plague. And at the same time I also know that many of those situations have to be faced. I also observe here how easy it is to fall into self criticism here and thinking less of myself for acting on that avoidance. "You are giving in *again*" some part of me says. So how can I make some changes in this tricky spot?

For me I start with finding some curiosity about that part of me that avoids, and I phrase it like this... "ah, something in me doesn't want to..." What we call avoidance or resistance or procrastination are all some part of us that is not wanting something to happen or to be felt, so this language of "something in me doesn't want to..." can really help us tune into what is going on in there in an empathic way or a kind and understanding way. We tune into what it wants or doesn't want (instead of what we normally do which is labelling and judging)

It's like when we really hear why our friend does not feel like coming out that evening, or why a loved one avoids calling you ,when you really hear the truth of their side of it, relief is always there. The truth calms.

And here is the nub, if when we sense that part of us, we don't feel any kindness or understanding, we will know we have missed a step, or not really heard the whole story. We may have another critical voice to acknowledge or perhaps we just need to spend a little more time listening. That kind moment when we really get it is unmistakable, and for me a kind of compass point to navigate by. If I am not feeling some empathy for a part of myself I am with, then something else needs to happen. I need to step back and sense wider.

So far, when I touch with these places we call avoidance etc, all I have ever found is some scared part of me or some part of me that wants to protect me from feeling difficult or strong feelings and it's working really hard to do that. And I have learnt that by leaning in like this, with kindness, I become a bigger person, who can take the difficult feelings with more ease and curiosity... and change does come.
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