“I often work by avoidance.” Brian Eno
I don’t believe avoidance is always a bad thing, however much we’re always told to be strong, confront issues immediately, and ACT NOW.
Avoidance offers a layer of protection while you come to terms with a dilemma, choice, or truth. Avoidance can protect you while you sort things out. Explore your options. Make decisions.
One of the definitions I found was “a defense mechanism by which a person removes himself/herself from unpleasant situations.” Another is “individuals avoid decisions by postponing them, failing to act, or accepting the status quo.”
Now that I have an official definition out of the way, consider the lowly scab. Without it to cover a wound, infection could set in and cause more trouble than the original injury. Avoidance can be like a scab. It provides protection until you’re strong enough to expose the problem to the air.
And of course, avoidance can’t be a long-term solution. I freely acknowledge that to you all.
For example, is it better to think that the cause of your headache is a malignant brain tumor or chalk it up to stress and too little sleep? On the one hand, it’s wise to have a doctor check you out, but what if it’s just a headache and you now owe the doctor money that usually goes for your power bill…for several months?
So, you practice avoidance while you start keeping track of how often you have headaches. You get to bed earlier and exercise to relieve stress to see if that decreases the occurrences. If your behavior changes are successful, you’ve saved time and money. If you are still symptomatic, you then decide you are ready to go to the doctor and find out if there is a medical reason for your headaches. Even if it is not a tumor, your avoidance gave you time to come to terms with the results, whatever unfolds.
The psychological definition of “denial” is: An unconscious defense mechanism characterized by refusal to acknowledge painful realities, thoughts, or feelings. The American Heritage® Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2007, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Avoidance isn’t an unconscious tactic. Scarlett “ I’ll think about it tomorrow” O’Hara practiced avoidance. She didn’t deny there was a problem. She practiced avoidance until she was strong enough to decide on a course of action. While Scarlett is immortal as characters go, she’s not the most sympathetic character. Screamingly flawed, some readers are not on board with Scarlett as a heroine. I’m one of them, but not because she avoided snap decision-making.
My name is Janis and I practice avoidance.