So many of us avoid going to the dentist. We often know for ages that we should be making an appointment, but for various reasons put it off. Of course, the inevitable happens and we end up being in so much pain that we can no longer avoid it. We not only end up with severe physical pain, we also incur the pain of additional dental fees. Procrastination and avoidance are the most popular methods for side-stepping difficult and potentially painful actions. Avoidance is where information has been gathered, thus eliminating ignorance, but fails to be acted upon. Once again the adage that doing what you have always done will result in getting what you have always got.
I recently read an article written by a woman who was diagnosed with cancer, where she made the claim that it was the best thing that ever happened to her. She went on to say that her disease caused a change in values, which meant that how she chose to spend her time and resources changed. She had allowed her work and the business of life to get in the way of her relationship with the people she professed to love, as well as her relationship with herself. All of a sudden, as she looked at death’s door, she realised that her family and the time she could spend nurturing herself were more important than her drive to be ‘successful’.
As a health professional for 35 years, I was in the position to give many people information about the causes to their physical suffering and what they could do to remedy that. I gave really clear instructions and mostly simple procedures that would bring relief from suffering if followed. A common one with young people was ‘growing pains’. I found that if they stopped consuming dairy for a while and increased their fresh fruit and vegetable intake their pain would go within a few days. Of course, telling a teenager not to eat cheese, ice-cream or drink milk was like asking someone to stop breathing. The result being that they would return the next week still experiencing their pain, and on occasions the pain would be worse. Its funny how so many of us choose the ‘avoidance path’ and appear to be happy to continue putting up with the pain.
Part of the avoidance strategy is to find a cure that will fix the pain, without having to sacrifice anything. It’s the perceived sacrifice that causes us to procrastinate and to avoid dealing with the cause of our suffering. One of our greatest challenges to this whole issue is that modern health-care could offer quick fixes for our suffering. Drugs and surgery, treatments and remedies won over the need for inconvenient changes to lifestyle. I personally spent many years treating symptoms, and twenty years later I see these past clients of mine in their 70’s dealing with the advanced disease states of these early symptoms. My treatment successfully dealt with the symptoms but I didn’t do enough or they didn’t do anything more to bring holistic changes to the cause. Another avoidance strategy for suffering is distraction. Because they become relied on so much due to the repetitious nature of the suffering, the distractions become addictions. There are the obvious ones like drugs and alcohol, food and tobacco, but there are also the not so obvious ones like, exercise, shopping, sex, TV, Facebook and digital games to name a few. They take our mind off the things we know should be done, which we don’t want to have to face doing.
Take a Moment to Consider
Take a few moments to review your own experience right now and see if you can identify things that you are procrastinating doing.
What are the activities that stop you from acting?
Could you draft a schedule that made it possible to complete what needs to be done?
Is there something you are afraid of that stops you getting on and doing it?
How does it serve you not to complete the task?
And how would it serve you to have the task completed?
Who else is being affected by your procrastination?
How would others benefit if you were to complete the task?
Today we looked at the second block to awareness (listening) which was avoidance. Remember, this is when we know we should be making some changes but don’t, which is different to ignorance, when we don’t know that we need to make changes and can’t. Next blog I’ll be looking at attachment, this is where we know we need to change, and do make changes but cannot sustain them.
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