Avoidance isn’t always bad.
If we can’t yet handle a thing, it’s actually pretty smart to avoid it until we have the tools, skills, and focus to handle it.
We’re told over and over again that avoidance will only make a problem worse.
Really? I think trying to rush into a situation we’re not equipped to handle is a lot worse than avoiding doing that.
Trying to “process” a traumatic memory that we’re not yet stable and skilled enough to process is a recipe for getting triggered and overwhelmed.
Trying to confront someone when we’ve not yet developed the assertiveness and self-talk skills to handle the pressure that comes with confrontation is a recipe for feeling small and getting hurt.
Trying to hang out in a bar when we’re in recovery from alcohol abuse is a recipe for relapse.
Having your drug of choice in the house when we’re in recovery from substance dependence is a recipe for relapse.
In each case, avoidance is the SMART strategy.
I don’t know where we got this idea that we always have to confront our biggest stressors and worst memories and most acute sources of pain, or else we’re “running” from them.
A big part of recovery is being real about how safe and stable we are right now— not how safe and stable we “should” be, or how safe and stable we wish we were, or how safe and stable we want other people to think we are.
When we’re not safe and stable enough to do a thing, the intelligent thing is to avoid that thing.
There’s no shame in avoiding a situation we can’t handle at the moment.
There might be a voice in your head telling you you need to be “tough.” That you need to “suck it up.”
Chances are, if you’re reading this, the only reason you’re ALIVE is because you HAVE been tougher than you ever should have had to be.
There’s nothing “tough” about exposing ourselves to situations and people who will only trigger us.
No amount of “sucking it up” will magically give us coping skills we haven’t learned or practiced.
Don’t get me wrong: recovery asks us to look at LOTS of hard stuff.
Recovery asks us to do plenty of stuff that is uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and often exhausting.
There are times in recovery when we have to engage instead of avoid.
But “avoidance” in general gets a bad rap.
When in doubt: err on staying safe and stable.
Trust me: you will get PLENTY of opportunities to confront unpleasant realities in recovery.
We DON’T need to go rushing in to triggering situations or leaning in to awful memories just because we want to “get it over with” or prove how much those things clearly aren’t affecting us.
A lot of people struggle with the fact that we’re simply not ready to do a thing— until we are.
We’re not skilled enough to do a thing— until we are.
We’re not stable enough to do a thing— until we are.
Often that process— of getting stable and developing coping skills— can’t be rushed.
We’re not going to suddenly develop an amazing insight that will slingshot us so far forward in recovery that we don’t need to pick and choose when and how we confront the tough stuff.
Avoidance is a tool. Use it intelligently and honestly.