Avoidance by definition is “the action or keeping away from or not doing something.” (dictionary.com) You may be inclined to avoid difficult topics or activities out of your earlier conditioning in your family of origin. Avoidance is in fact a coping skills, but one that is more codependent in nature than really being helpful. Avoidant behaviors may have protected you at many points in your life, but if you are a person in recovery avoiding the realities of your situation is not helpful and counterproductive to the work you signed on to do.
So, what are you avoiding? Probably a lot. Are you avoiding going to weekly therapy to process hurt, pain, anxiety, or depression? Are you avoiding meeting with your sponsor to work the 12 Steps? Are you avoiding having a difficult conversation with a spouse or partner? Avoiding it won’t make it go away.
I think it’s natural and normal for humans to want to avoid pain. Put plainly, anything that will cause emotional or physical pain we are hardwired to avoid. I avoided quite a bit pre-recovery including asking for help, seeking guidance from professionals, and of course going into recovery to begin with.
In recovery, I work every day to avoid avoidance. Most people will move past avoidance after they are sick and tired of being sick and tired. That can take a long time. I try to challenge people, whether clients or sponsees, to see the benefit of tackling those things you are avoiding head on.
There is a challenge I notice people face while working on avoidance behaviors, they don’t know whether or not they are worth moving through avoidance. Now we are talking about self-esteem. If you don’t feel worthy of the gifts awaiting you, you will be less inclined to move through the difficulties. You will stay stuck; depressed and/or anxious and mad at the world.
Low self-esteem is a common problem for individuals in recovery. Of course it is. We have gone through some of the worst shit imaginable and now we are tasked with pushing through all the guilt, shame, pain, and trauma in order to have a life worth living. It’s a lot of work! But….
There is a solution:
Recovery is challenging, but it’s worth it. You can get your life back on track or move forward to the next indicated step if your recovery has stalled. It’s not easy, but hardly anything that is worth it is.
If all else fails, you can always turn to the trust prayer for serenity:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
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