Day 214: How to face areas of life that you have been avoiding?

So if you have read much of my blog, you probably realize that I spend a lot of time writing about thoughts and attitude. Specifically, I spend a lot of time thinking of how my own thoughts affect my experience in life. Recently, this has led me to do a lot of digging into what my attitudes are in different areas of life, both the areas that work well, and the areas that haven’t worked so well.

One thing that I have noticed is that our eagerness to handle something in life seems to be completely correlated with how positive our attitude is about that area. In other words, if you expect something to go well, you will tend to be eager and enthused about handling that area.

For instance, if you get overjoyed at the thought of cleaning your house, you are likely to do it easy, frequently, and with enthusiasm. Of course, the opposite is true: if the thought of cleaning your house makes you think of all the mess, and of how hard it all seems to do, as well as how much you suffered last time you tried and how that failed, well then, can you guess? You are likely to avoid that activity like the plague. Am I right?

So why do people avoid handling things that matter to them? Could it be that they think of those subjects, and because they are focused on what they do not want, they do not feel good, and so they do not want to face it? Could it be that they expect that area to be hard, challenging, or embarrassing when they fail at it?

As I wrote yesterday, we tend to get what we expect, whether be that wanted or unwanted. Explaining it in this light can remove all the moralizing and self-judgment that tends to acompany areas like this, with people constantly judging themselves/ As in, “Well, I know I should exercise, but I just can’t seem to make myself do it.” Or “I know I should save for the future, but, I don’t know, I just haven’t been able to.”

I have observed that, especially us adult human beings are really good at knowing what we “should” do. Yet thinking in those terms tends not to be very powerful. They call it shoulding on ourselves. It tends to just produce guilt, or feelings of inadequacy, as we chastize ourselves for not being able to accomplish things that we know are good for us. Also, it doesn’t address what may be the real problem: that we avoid doing something we know to be important because our thoughts are focused on unwanted, and therefore stressful and unpleasant, outcomes.

“I hate doing laundry. It never gets done!” says one guilt-ridden housemate. They know they should do the laundry, but they avoid it, so it piles up in a corner for weeks. When they finally get to it, it seems like a never-ending job, which just reinforces their negative story about doing laundry.

“I know I should get off sugar, but I have such a sweet tooth!” says another aspiring health nut. They too feel guilty, yet in truth, they are confused about what they really want. They think they should get off sugar, because that is what they have been told, but secretly, or not so secretly, they are confused about which road to take. In this case, perhaps the answer is not to stop sugar (or perhaps it is). Maybe the answer is to give up the guilt of trying to follow a standard that isn’t ours.

If we could remove the guilt and embarrassment from the situation and simply look at the vibrational content of our own thoughts, we could quickly gain an understanding of why certain experiences are so hard to do, and seem so joyless or without satisfaction. Sometimes, we may be surprised to realize that some standard we have been holding ourselves isn’t our own. If we are trying to force ourselves to live by someone else’s standard, we are equally doomed to failure as if we are focused on the negative.

In summary, here is my list of what people can do to become willing—no, eager!– to face things that are important to them:

  • Drop the guilt and the “shoulding” on yourself for having avoided this area. Accept where you are at and see it without judgment.
  • Look at the situation with fresh eyes, and ask yourself if you are satisfied with the situation. If you are not, why not? Is it because you have not been doing the thing you know to do? Or is it because you have been trying to force yourself to do something that really isn’t your own standard?
  • Look into your own attitude and expectations about this subject. Do you generally feel positive about it, or negative? Do you think you expect things to go well, or badly? Does this area seem easy and fulfilling, or difficult and oppressive?
  • If your expectations and attitude are negative, ask yourself, what kind of expectations would you rather have? Is it possible to cultivate new expectations? Is it possible to change your attitude?
  • From now on, look for ways you can continue cultivating a positive attitude in this area. Be confident that you will be inspired to take new actions, and therefore get new, satisfying results, when you are ready.

I think that with areas of our life that we have been avoiding, it may take some time to get a new pattern going. Therefore the final item is the only one that involves taking action. But notice that I still put it in terms of awaiting inspiration to act, not forcing action. When you await inspiration, your action will be informed by your new, inspired attitude.

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