What are you avoiding?
Is it having a tough conversation with a friend or dealing with your deteriorating health? Maybe it’s the reality that you’ve not been happy for years in your relationship. We all have problems we don’t want to deal with.
I’ve come to think of these as thorns, an analogy I came across while reading Michael Singer’s book ‘The Untethered Soul’. In it, he describes the following scenario:
‘Imagine that you have a thorn in your arm that directly touches a nerve. When the thorn is touched, it’s very painful. Because it hurts so much, the thorn is a serious problem.
This thorn is a constant source of disturbance, and to solve the problem you only have two choices.
The first choice is to look at your situation and decide that since it’s so disturbing when things touch the thorn, you need to make sure nothing touches it.
The second choice is to decide that since it’s so disturbing when things touch the thorn, you need to take it out.’
Have you selected option one so far? You left the thorn in and reorganised your life around it instead. You’ve erected barriers and buried yourself in the countless distractions available at your fingertips.
So instead of dealing with a painful breakup you rush into the next relationship. You use alcohol, drugs and food to anesthetize yourself, all in an attempt to dodge tough decisions. You spend countless hours scrolling and binging online instead of addressing the problem.
We all have thorns that we pretend aren’t there.
And maybe running away is your mind’s way of protecting you from the pain. You’re afraid to fail, afraid to be ridiculed, afraid to face the unknown. It reminds me of this quote:
‘At our core we really only have one overriding fear. The fear that we won’t be able to handle what comes our way.’ – Susan Jeffers
So you run.
But here’s the thing. Every now and again, despite your careful manoeuvrings, something touches the thorn. That touch is painful enough that it pierces through the fantasy that everything is okay. You’re reminded that although you tried to ignore it, the thorn is still there. But instead of the tiny wound it used to be, it’s now festered. A minor issue is now a major problem.
Here’s what I’ve learned the hard way.
Avoidance never solves the problem. Not confronting the issue seems easier at first but that relief is temporary because you haven’t really solved anything. As Singer explains, in our attempt to protect ourselves from the problem it ends up running our lives. Until you acknowledge your problems and do what it takes to deal with them you are constantly on the run.
So here’s my question to you.
What thorns are you desperately protecting? What issues in your life have you failed to address? Are you waiting till they’re so big and destructive that you’re forced to deal with them or will you have the courage to confront them right now?
Are you ready to stop running knowing that whatever the challenge you are strong enough to deal with it?
‘Avoidance is the best short-term strategy to escape conflict and the best long-term strategy to ensure suffering.’ Brendon Burchard
Stop running, remove the thorn and take responsibility for your life today.