#331- Journey of Attachment: How Avoidants Try To Avoid Pain
Avoidants avoid—that’s what they do! And when they try to avoid pain, they remain stuck in a state of struggle (although they don’t know they’re in struggle). If you are an avoidant, your emotions are often left unbothered and undisturbed. You may go through life believing you’re happy because you have numbed the pain. But if a crisis hits and your emotions are out of control, you compartmentalize them, hoping someday you’ll feel better. You probably isolate yourself or shut down and avoid vulnerability in an attempt to protect yourself from pain. On the surface you look like you have everything together, but inside you’re filled with anxiety from trying to avoid your pain.
If you’re the kind of person who bends over backward for a family member, yet gets frustrated because that person always complains, you may be avoiding a deeper pain. Maybe you don’t like to be criticized or do things wrong… but you don’t know that about yourself because you don’t allow yourself to “go there.” Instead, you bury those feelings and end up lashing out at your relative for being unappreciative. Trying to avoid pain won’t make it go away; it stays inside and creates a different kind of pain.
Your emotions are running the show whether you pay attention to them or not. And when you try to ignore their existence, they can come out in uncontrolled ways. Instead of pretending pain doesn’t exist, or compartmentalizing it for dealing with “another time,” focus on it. The next time you feel yourself reacting, notice where you feel physical pain or tightness in your body. Just feel it. Practicing this will get you used to allowing the pain and you’ll come to realize it won’t kill you. In fact, it just may be the key to your happiness because you can’t feel joy without feeling pain.
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