As human beings, we all tend to brush anything that would cause us emotional pain or anxiety under the carpet. We will ‘deal with it later’… Only we often don’t. Why should we after all? If it is likely to make us sad or hurt us, we might as well put it safely at the back of our minds, in the box with all the rest of the stuff that is just too painful to cope with. This is true of emotions but also of circumstances we might find ourselves in.
So what are we really scared of? Why is it that every time something happens that we really ought to be sorting out, we run for the hills? Whether it’s a pile of bills we don’t want to see, grief, something we wish had never happened or we hadn’t found out, a difficult conversation that we know we ought to have, we just don’t want to face up to it and would rather bury our head in the sand. We can always ‘deal with it later’…
The truth is that we are all very good indeed at avoiding things.
And it’s actually very normal. We are programmed to either get away from pain or go towards pleasure. So if we see something that looks a little bit too difficult, unpleasant or like it could hurt us, we will do our very best to avoid it. And in the present moment, this avoidance might even give us a sense of relief and make us feel a bit better. Unfortunately, it is just the worse thing we could do because it will always be in the background, a nagging feeling and weight that just won’t go away.
And it will come back at some point, quite literally to haunt you. Guaranteed. And you then become at the mercy of your very own fears and discomforts, because you can’t hide forever and there is a point where you will no longer have a choice. It will creep up in your dreams or in your thoughts, and the slightest thing will become a reminder.
The thing is, what makes us fearful is the unknown. By nature, we don’t like change and are creatures of comfort. Our imagination runs wild and we think of all the bad things that could come about, starting to believe that the worst case scenario will happen. It is the sense of anticipation that stops us.
Unfortunately, the longer you put it off, the worse it will become. That is true of all circumstances, be it debt, a difficult conversation or a painful situation. We let fear stop us, create a problem bigger than it originally was and start to feel even worse about it. We create our own anxiety and distress.
So what can we do to make it better?
There is only one answer and only one thing to do. It won’t be easy but it is to consciously face up to the issue and taking appropriate action. Yes, you want to avoid doing that but that’s what you did in the first place and burying your head in the sand hasn’t got you anywhere. It is the only way. And yes, it will hurt but the sooner you do it, the quicker and the better you will feel. We create our own reality so instead of thinking that bad stuff will come off it, do yourself a favour and face up to it because it will be worth in the long run. As Victor Hugo said, ‘courage isn’t the absence of fear but the mastery of it’…