Humans are a lot like water. Well a good percentage of our body is actually water, so perhaps that is understandable. Water is essential for life on earth – all life on earth. Actually, it is necessary, we are not. Water is nourishing, and merciless. We can drown or die of thirst. Like water, humans will usually follow the path of least resistance. A river cuts through the land from mountains to the sea. It seeks the most direct path, but always taking the path of least resistance. I’d go so far as to say most of us will opt for the easy option if we come to a difficult juncture or are confronted with a challenge. “It’s just too hard and I’ve got all this other stuff going on.” Why put myself through all that when I feel so much better doing the stuff I like and the stuff that won’t make me feel anxious.
I know that because my life is so busy (everything is relative) and I definitely follow the path of least resistance in a lot of areas of my life. Why go the hard way when I can ignore, put off, forget and just plain avoid the hard stuff?
We avoid for a lot of reasons, but mainly I suspect because we don’t want to be hurt. Much like a boxer avoiding an opponent’s punches, or a rugby player avoiding a tackler.
The thing though, with avoiding doing the hard stuff is that it usually catches up with us. Certainly in most cases it does with me. Sometimes only I know I’m avoiding it, and it will be like water wearing away at a rock in my mind. Constantly doing its work. Relentless. I know I must address the issue, whether it is having that difficult conversation or making those changes to how I’m living. Water perseveres. Over thousands or millions of years it will wash away at rock relentlessly breaking it down to sand and silt. And like the water on rock, but on an accelerated time dimension the constant nagging thoughts inside your head that don’t allow you to fully settle wear away. You can’t settle because you know you have to do something, and until you do your mind won’t be at peace and you’ll feel uneasy. Yes you’ll find escape through all sorts of means, but you can’t hide from yourself.
“There is no avoidance in delay.” ― Aeschylus
For some things it is just procrastination. I will put off doing things I don’t particularly enjoy. Administrative stuff. Completing a report. I don’t enjoy it, and am more productive leaving it until late to get it done. Some focus and urgency. This is not avoidance. Avoidance is more than procrastination, it is consciously running away from something you fear.
“You cannot avoid what you fear because what you fear is inside of you.” ― Bryant McGill
Even if you’re living by your values, you may still be avoiding some hard stuff. We all are.
As with me, there will be times where you are conflicted. Where you have to make a decision, and aren’t even totally sure if it’s are in line with your values, or is challenging between two values. Your values change over time. Nothing is permanent. In times of this transition there will be turmoil and chaos in your head. I’ve experienced this a lot. I often went for the path of least resistance because it was just so much easier when you’re in that moment. There is enough going on in my head without forcing myself to act outside my comfort zone. It meant I missed out on life. It delayed me being a better me earlier. It meant people suffered for it. There are some things you can delay but not avoid. Like the water constantly filling a dam. Eventually the dam will overflow or burst unless you release the water.
And yet we don’t. Why? It is so often the devil you know. We all know our safety zone. Oh the ease and comfort. And even though we somehow know where we are isn’t right (living with the devil), we will tolerate that and avoid the pain of moving. We all know that outside our comfort zone is where real living begins – but we more often than not avoid it. In those times that we are catapulted over our comfort zone barrier and out into the unknown we’re usually completely surprised at how energised and good we feel. The avoidance was more painful.
“Well, it is true. Sometimes avoiding something can give it more and more meaning rather than less and less.” ― Tom McNeal
You are capable of great stuff. Avoiding little things makes them bigger than they really are. And that holds us back. I will often avoid simple stuff that involves communications with others because I have some inbuilt fear about it. The more I think about it the more meaning I give it, and the bigger it becomes. Crazy stuff!
The bad news about all this is – although it isn’t too bad – happiness comes at a price. That price (and it is a price, not a cost) is that you have consciously do something. You may have to do some tough stuff that you don’t necessarily want to do. You may need to step out and be courageous. You may need to change some habits that are holding you back. You may even have to make some tough choices that make some other people momentarily unhappy. You definitely have to avoid avoiding the stuff that keeps you from being your best.
“The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would solve most of the world’s problems.” – Mahatma Gandhi
If we don’t use what we’ve got, and constantly develop ourselves we go stale – rusty.
Be honest with yourself.
What are you avoiding? Why are you avoiding it? Where are you rusting?
Deal with it. Get support. Be great.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below,