AvoiDANCE

Allow me to introduce to you to my close friend, protector & social deflector…. Avoidance.

Avoidance has been my fire blanket for as long as I can remember, so much so that I don’t want to fold it up, pack it away, or even consider it not being my ‘go-to’ comforter.

I think I learnt this skill early on in life as growing up we had many people coming in & out of our home due to the job my parents had. We often had people sitting at a dinner table not knowing each other & sometimes not knowing us either. We were ‘briefed’ beforehand & given a rundown on how this person landed up in our home & at our table & were also provided topics to avoid due to it’s sensitivity or inappropriateness towards our visitor. Hence, the dinner dance I grew up with was created – the very essence of avoidance & masking uncomfortableness. There were times I recall my brother & I almost performing for these people to break the silence, encourage conversation & topics of interest or just talking amongst each other in the hope that the deafening silence & awkward social situation would be drowned out by our banter. We actually used to call each other ‘social lubricators’ & it became instinctual when our services were required.

Over the years, I perfected avoidance so much so that performing became a breeze & it also manifested itself into a mask. I hoped as my confidence grew & as my strived to achieve my hopes & dreams socially & professionally, that I would be better confronting people & situations. However, it wasn’t to be. And sadly, as my depression increased in it’s frequency this was just something that I just didn’t have the energy or room to work on. My avoidance isn’t prejudiced either as it involves both situations & individuals so all my bases are covered in terms of any potential conflicts.

I don’t know what my issue with avoidance is & how I’ve become so resistant to confrontation. What am I afraid of? What’s the worst that can happen? Isn’t confrontation just standing up for myself? I’m not a weak person, nor a pushover, so surely this should come easily! Am I just wilfully ignorant?

I want to get to the bottom of this. I really do as I feel it holding me back to the person I want to be for myself & for my family. So, what is my issue exactly? Is it feeling overwhelmed at the time of confrontations & not saying what I want to say? Is it that I think of things to say after the fact & get angry with myself for not thinking of them at the time? Is that my excuse for not even starting the conversation that needs to be had? Am I scared what the other person will think of me? If they’re my good friends I shouldn’t care & the friendship is supposed to strengthen. And If we’re not good friends, then I shouldn’t even bother, so it’s not avoidance rather disinterest. Am I scared about the unknown outcome therefore not even wanting to find out? Is it a control thing – that I can’t control the outcome, my feelings etc?

And then I start thinking: what lesson I am teaching my kids by all this avoidance? Is this the kind of role model I want to be to my children? If I want people or my kids to have respect for me then surely I need to be able to genuinely respect myself & be content with my life’s decisions. Is my avoidance a form of self-respect sabotage?  Is my fear born out of self-preservation? How do I go about & what do I need to do to give myself permission to be vulnerable enough to stop this tango of avoidance? If I want to be the best version of myself, then surely something needs to change in my thinking.

Like my realisation that the word ‘forgiveness’ had the word ‘give’ in it, the word avoidance has the word ‘dance’ in it. This is perfect for me as I actually see myself dancing around topics & hop stepping about in order to deflect from the real issue. In actual fact, I would rather dance instead of facing a confronting, uncomfortable or excruciating event.

At the beginning of this post, I called avoidance my ‘fire’ blanket as opposed to a safety blanket. Is there really going to be a wall of fire thrown at me for standing up for myself? Do I really have to snuff it out before it starts to sting? Is this how I view confrontation – that the consequence is me being told off, questioned or hurt? Are all confrontations going to be an attack on my character? Is that how I see confrontation – as personal attacks? At the end of the day confrontations & arguments are just words. They’re just noises that come out of peoples mouths & form things called words which we use to communicate to each other. It’s all it is. I can make these words bounce off me or go right over me depending on the level of value I hold in the relationship with the person in conversation with. Surely this is nothing to be fearful of!?

I’m sure there are some people that see & view my avoidance as a weakness & an area in which they can exploit & take advantage of. Surely this alone should give me the motivation & impetus to make a change & stop dancing around the real issues. And I need to be honest too & admit that I’m not proud of this personality trait, so this together with my feelings of exploitation just have to be the architects of change.

I really don’t know the answer here, but I hope that exploring my thoughts & feelings in this space will provide me with some insights & in time possible paths of exploration.

Does anyone else have issues with confrontation? Have you managed to overcome your fears? What have been your strategies? I’d love some tips.

ForGIVEness as posted on James & Jax

First posted on James & Jax

I really struggle with the notion of forgiveness. I cling on to my anger & resentment like toddler does with their beloved comfort toy. I take my anger & resentment with me everywhere I go & would never ever consider parting with it as it’s become my protective shield not allowing anymore pain in, as well as repelling the potential for future hurt. The negativity I harbour has also become the flint that ignites all my excuses to forgive whomever or whatever. And so the cycle continues & I go nowhere fast.

I understand the notion of forgiveness & can see how others can forgive, but somehow I’m still unable to apply this to my own life. I know that by being angry & holding a grudge helps shield me from future hurt but also chips away at my overall happiness, however I suppose you need to weigh up the value you put on certain things that have happened & if they don’t threaten your contentment & safety then forgiveness has the potential to be easy. I also know that just because they/you have forgiven someone or something it doesn’t mean you will ever forget what happened. Forgiveness & forgetfulness are mutually exclusive & seldom go hand in hand.

What do I need to do to forgive someone? Can I find a template on Google to learn how to do this? Is this something that can take a long time, because I’m really impatient. Is there a right way to forgive someone? How does it feel? Will I ever be able to let this person back into my life again?

I know that forgiveness can be simple. For example, when Orli is rude or naughty & apologises to me forgiveness is simple. Forgiveness can also be incredibly difficult. I can’t ever see myself forgiving my third grade teacher for calling me stupid in front of the class as it affected my confidence & self-esteem for many years. I know my memories of this event are through the eyes & emotional maturity of my seven/eight yr old self, but even if this happened today it would be just as hurtful & impacting.

The word forgive has many definitions, one of them being ‘to grant a pardon’. Simple isn’t it really? Oh, you did something completely hurtful to me , no worries, I shall grant you this pardon to absolve yourself of all responsibly. Yeah, I don’t think so. This definition also reminds me of the Kings & World Leaders that pardon criminals or the innocently accused of a life behind bars. I see this type of pardon as ‘letting the person go’. I’m not sure I want people to get away with hurting my feelings or mistreating me. Why should they go about their life without ever accepting responsibility of their actions? Maybe it should read, ‘to grant yourself a pardon from allowing that person from affecting you any longer’.

See it’s complicated. And not easy.

When looking at the word ‘forgiveness’, the word ‘give’ is smack bang right there in the middle. How is it that I’ve never seen that before? Have I been blinded by my anger & resentment? I think so. Simply put then, forgiveness is a gift we’re all able to provide ourselves. The word itself has given me a tool to move forward with. If I can change the way I think about & feel about forgiveness, then perhaps, I’ll be able to forgive those that have either hurt me or been apathetic towards me & be free of holding onto useless & wasted energy & no longer give myself the excuses to remain stuck.

I now see forgiveness as a means to provide myself with permission to start, stop, move on or whatever I need to do for myself in order to curb the anger & resentment & living a fuller & enriching life with more room for love & hope. It won’t be easy as I’ve got a lot of hang ups to work through, but at least I’ve got something to start with. Now that the word ‘give’ stands out in the word forgiveness, I owe it to myself & my family to ‘give’ it a go.

Source: http://andrewschultz.com/daily-drive-forgiveness-friday-challenge/