Avoiding Life: stop putting today’s problems off till tomorrow

I usually wind up avoiding something every day. I’m really good at it. I have a running list of things in my head that I am trying to get done each day. Some I enjoy doing, some are okay, and some are things I really don’t like doing.


So, what do I do? Get those annoying things done first? Not so much.  I shuffle my priorities around like a shell game. Suddenly all of the things that aren’t that important, but that I feel like doing, because they are more entertaining, interesting or less annoyingly adulting items are what is getting done. If there is a way of getting out of doing something that I don’t like doing with little to no immediate consequences attached to it, I will find that loophole (whether consciously or not).


In the moment, it feels great. I relish in the fact that I have expertly avoided this thing that I didn’t want to do. But the next day I wake up and this thing is still on my to-do list. And I feel worse because I didn’t face it and tackle it yesterday. I don’t think that anything good has ever come out of me avoiding something.


So why is the avoidance habit so hard to kick if it actually doesn’t leave you feeling good or benefitting you in some way?




Avoiding is easy. The more you do it, the more you want to keep doing it. You don’t think about avoidance as being the enemy. You just call yourself lazy, or say you haven’t found what your passion is yet, or sometimes you make excuses why deserve to avoid what needs to get done. There’s some complicated reason why you can’t stop avoiding and you’ll never really figure it out, so why bother?


You need to bother because you need to get stuff done. Important stuff. That’s why The War of Art by Steven Pressfield is so good. It’s wonderfully simple -- he calls it Resistance. Steven Pressfield is talking about avoiding writing and how to get writers to see avoidance as Resistance that needs to be overcome. Overcoming something is not easy though. It takes time and trying different strategies to see what actually helps you to not give in to the impulse to avoid.  




When you are not fully paying attention, you are still avoiding. Distracted living has become the norm for almost everyone because of how much we are expected to get done. Between work, family, friends, exercise, volunteering, etc. there so much to accomplish with only so much time in the day.


When it comes to your job, you are not a harder worker if you are multitasking, you are just a less focused one. Distraction is a close cousin of avoidance.  You convince yourself that you are really approaching something when you are not. You have some reason why you do not want to be fully present while you are doing something. I think that you are trying to avoid feeling whatever you would feel if you were really focused and in the moment. Distraction allows you to be half in and not fully committed.


What can you do to work on avoiding less?


You need practice. Practicing talking yourself into sticking to your plan, despite your urge to avoid and feel better in the moment. You need to practice doing something that is somewhat difficult to do so you can believe in yourself  and feel the sense of accomplishment that you can do difficult things. Following through when things are not easy is how you build trust and confidence in yourself. And equally as important, you also need to show yourself that you actually feel better when you don’t avoid.


Therapy is one way of practicing how to face uncomfortable and difficult things in your life. As awesome as I am as a therapist, people don’t always get excited to come to their therapy appointment every week. I don’t take it personally. It’s part of the process. It’s a victory every time you really want to avoid therapy and talking about your feelings and but still find a way to get yourself to my office.

If you would like to discuss how therapy could help you, contact us for a free consultation


Vanessa Spooner, Psy.D.