When we are anxious, we all tend to avoid the thing that’s making us feel that way, and often say “it’s just easier.” But is it really?Tweet
I remember the days of old when the world wasn’t such a scary place. I thought nothing of the environment around me, had the music up high, the gatherings loud and full of fun. But no longer. Today, I live in a prison. I’m incarcerated by my own mind.
While I plot and scheme to escape from myself through regular therapy and exercise, I find the walls thick and cold, like concreate. Nonetheless I battle on and tell myself, “Even concrete has a weakness – I just have to find it.”
Sure, I don’t find it easy, but you know what this sliver of knowledge does for me? Knowing that that PTSD and anxiety must have a weakness? It gives me purpose, gives me hope and so, I fight on… I think you should too. Just keep fighting.
Oftentimes, when I help others through their more challenging moments, the phrase. “It’s just easier” comes up.” For example, when I say, “Have you ever tried confronting your anxiety? Many times, the answer is, “It’s just easier to avoid, put it out of my mind.”
This is anxiety-speak and its trademark saying “It’s just easier.” However, when I follow up with “How has your anxiety been since you avoided doing what has initially caused it?” more often than not, their response is “Constantly on high” or some variation of.
So, is “It’s just easier” really working? I am inclined to believe that it’s not the best coping strategy. Rather, facing one’s fear can be amazingly effective.
Firstly, we need to learn that being uncomfortable isn’t synonymous with avoidance. In fact, this is anxiety’s immediate reaction to feeling uncomfortable. Therefore, it’s better to defy its orders and the fantasies it constructs, and do the thing you’re scared of doing. I promise you, over time it will take the angst from 8 or 9 to a much more manageable level of fear.
The monsters I’m afraid of – Roundabouts
For most of my life, roundabouts were terrifying junctions that, as far as I was aware, were available only in Britain. I can recall, even as a kid thinking, “I’m ‘never going to drive in one of those things! When I watched the cars enter and exit them, it looked like chaos, every car going in circles and every which direction. “That’s just crazy” I thought. With that said, I was always relieved knowing that they were a world away.
Then it happened… Some inconsiderate engineer brought them to my neck of the woods. I know, how dare they, right? Well, as fate would have it, I was an adult by the time the first one came along. But no matter, I had a solution. I said to myself, “Well, I will find another route. It’s just easier if I do.” Hmmm. I bet you know where this is going.
So, my alternate route was less traumatic, but it only appeased the anxiety and didn’t really deal with it. I thought, “That’s okay, I don’t go that way very often, so a different route won’t hurt, and besides, there’s only one, so it’s not that big a deal.” Well, over time, they put more and more of the damn things in. “This is going to get expensive on fuel if I have to go out of my way everywhere I go.” Ah, the power of avoidance, it’s a killer.
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Yet despite those roundabouts becoming a thing, I stuck to my avoidance policy for over 15 years. And because there were more and more, my anxiety around them became, you guessed it, stronger and stronger. Was avoidance really a create coping tool? I wish it were, but in my experience, this has never been the case.
You’re not so tough.
Finally, I just became sick of the constant anxiety in my life, not only from this example, but from many other things too.
Believe me, after years and years of anxiety had held me in captive, like I mentioned in the beginning, I decided to fight back. How? Well, firstly, I asked myself, “What are some of the things I can do to minimize this crippling disorder?” What I came up with was, “Take on the smaller things that are making life so hard and “Just face them.”
Target number one? Roundabouts. One day, I decided to get in the driver’s seat, both physically and metaphorically and tackle this monster made of asphalt and grass and “just do it!” Let me tell Ya, when slowed to the initial yield sign, just before entering the circle, or as I like to call it, belly of the beast, I was so nervous, all I wanted to do was through the car in reverse but with a car behind me, I had little choice.
See, that the thing about life, in order to grow, you have little choice, you must forage ahead. So, I decided that I would go to the first exit in the roundabout, just to get my “toes wet.” So, I made my way into the flow of traffic and promptly took the first exit I came too. ” That wasn’t so bad.”
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Afterward, the thing I had feared for all those years was alleviated once I got to the other side. I went from an 8 to a 6 to a 3 with each attempt.
Today, I am so happy that I defeated anxiety around this and now, I actively work on defeating more of my demons. Not by avoidance but from blowing through the uncomfortable… I will tell you this, my overall angst is so much better…… and that’s the opposite of what anxiety tells us, it’s the truth.
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