I often use laundry as a metaphor for avoiding. When we have a circumstance, emotion, conflict, or fear that we avoid we often feel it is unpleasant, not motivating, scary or overwhelming. So imagine if each time you are faced with something that you wanted to avoid you threw it into the laundry basket. We keep throwing clothes into the laundry basket every time it comes up. Well eventually that laundry basket will overflow. Then, in an effort to avoid that, we close the laundry basket filled with clothes into the closet. We keep quickly throwing those dreaded pieces of clothing into the closet. At some point that closet door is going to be forced open and all of the dreaded “clothes”/ circumstances that we were avoiding spill over onto us.
Have you ever noticed how the more you ignore something that is bothering you the more anxious you become or the more likely you are to blow up over time. Blowing up in this sense can look like getting upset over “little things,” needing to escape from our experience so we numb or zone out, becoming emotionally flooded, or potentially becoming apathetic about the task “I call it a case of the fuck its”. Once this happens our intensity of anxiety has generally grown bigger then the initial issue itself so we are constantly justifying why we should continue to avoid it. All the while the laundry mess is getting bigger.
One way to lessen anxiety is to allow it to be in the space by accepting that despite the discomfort it is not unbearable and we can survive it. Then we can find ways to deescalate ourselves so that we are better able to make decisions and act. We are also able to ask for help when we provide self compassion instead of judgement like “this shouldn’t be happening to me,” for example.
Distracting from something isn’t inherently bad because it can allow us time to take a step back and return to the issue more clear. The issue presents when we avoid to the extent of causing distress, making matters worse, blocking ourselves from healing, and not allowing ourselves to live in line with our values.
Somethings that we avoid may need more support from a mental health professional and that is okay.
Take some time today to figure out if you have been avoiding something that in turn is causing repercussions in your life. This could range from distressing dreams to a rupture in an important relationship.
Sending peace and love as you navigate and reflect, Melanated and Anxious Queen!