Often the easy way out is to avoid something hard. We all have moments of weakness when we opt for that path. We also have moments of courage when we move toward a difficult situation or conversation. In my experiences of parenting, marriage, coaching, writing, working within the juvenile justice system and as a special education paraprofessional, I’ve learned the value of approaching versus dodging the stuff that makes us afraid. Keep reading to see what I’ve learned.
My middle son, Josh, has worked very hard and become an excellent rower. He is on a club team here in Minnesota. Often I hear him put down teammates’ techniques or times. I talk with him about acting superior and speaking so negatively. He says what bothers him the most is when his teammates don’t try. He would be perfectly fine with his fellow crew members’ times and techniques if he could tell they tried their hardest. It’s when they half-ass it that he loses respect.
I have the same bias. I do not understand not giving it your all. If it does not hurt a little, you are not trying hard enough. My dad instilled in me, a job worth doing is worth doing well.
I want to help but I might mess up
Growing up, I worked at the family shoe stores. My dad was a watchful and somewhat critical boss, but I learned from him. I learned how to work. Honestly, for years I hung back and only did what I was told. I wasn’t a self-starter. I was afraid of doing something wrong. I remember doing the dishes with hesitation because I did not want to do them wrong, but with repetition, I gained confidence. I now realize most people are just happy for the help.
Don’t hesitate, just do it
My ex-husband and his family are a bunch of doers. All of that doing sometimes got exhausting, but I learned to not be intimidated by doing. You just jump in.
It takes courage to try something new or do something difficult. I get that, but avoiding work or challenges, to me, is avoiding life.
Approach or avoid?
Psychologists talk about approaching and avoiding. Approaching means reaching out to others or activities, engaging with life. Avoiding means sidestepping difficult situations and relationships. Approaching is the healthy path.
In Ben Hardy’s article, You Miss Every Shot You Don’t Take, he quotes addiction and marketing expert, Joe Polish, when he says,“In every social situation you’re in, you are either seeking to escape or connect.”
Social situations bring their own challenges. Avoiding and approaching sound similar to escaping and connecting. Are we going toward someone or away?
There will be times when we must have difficult conversations with others. We may have made a mistake. We may be angry with them. The conversation may result in hurt feelings. We may have to ask someone to do something they do not want to do.
Does it do any good to avoid such conversations? Does it do any good to avoid work?
Some ways we avoid
People avoid and escape in different ways. They may simply physically remove themselves from a situation. They may stop talking and stonewall. They may bury their attention in their phone or work. Some people escape by numbing out with alcohol, marijuana or other drugs.
What we miss out on when we avoid
Approaching and connecting are the seeds of growth in my book. Without them, we stop becoming. We stop learning. When I am not learning or expanding, I feel low.
Also, my favorite thing in the world is to connect with others. I see avoiding as not wanting to connect.
Avoiding and taking the easy way out (half-assing it), prolongs the inevitable difficult discussion, decision or task. It halts our growth and takes away the possibility of connecting. I wrote in another post that depression is a seeking disorder. If we stop seeking new ideas, work, relationships, etc. we deny one of our basic human functions. We wither.
Next time you feel down or disconnected, approach that difficult activity or situation. Dig into it and work. I believe you will feel better. Next week I’ll go deeper into the how of approaching.
What are you currently avoiding?How does it make you feel? When have you bravely approached?
If you would like to learn how to approach and connect on your own time at your own pace, check out my online courses in connection and attachment at brendaknowles.teachable.com or click on the image below.