Everyone avoids something or someone at some point in their lives. There are however those who find themselves perpetually avoiding issues. You may avoid it because you don’t know how to handle the situation or because you fear the outcome of confronting the situation. Avoidance can feel like the easier path to take but it often ends up creating its own consequences. Some of the consequences of avoidance can be: • Keeping your life on pause by not facing the truth • Living with the anxiety that at any moment the truth will come out • Feeling as if you are living a lie • Having to constantly suppress your feelings • Doubting yourself • Maintaining superficial relationships • Staying in a miserable situation longer than you need to • Allowing the problem to get bigger Even though it is difficult, there comes a time when you need to face issues. Here are some tips for overcoming avoidance. 1. Imagine the outcome. Think about the potential outcomes or responses that could occur if you face the issue. Once you consider the possibilities, think about how you would handle each case. Choose preparation over procrastination. 2. Consider the cost. Remember the times in your life when avoidance cost you something valuable – your time, your self-respect, your job, your credit, a relationship, or your peace of mind. When avoidance has been your general approach, you can definitely think of times when you wish you had faced things sooner. Make a decision to break the pattern of avoidance. 3. Nurture yourself. Avoidance stresses you out. Commit to taking care of yourself instead of simply suffering in silence. Do the things that renew your spirit, mind, heart, and body. You may want to consider prayer, meditation, journaling, exercise, reading self-help books, and/or going to a spa. When you are able to approach the issue from a restored place, you will be stronger and wiser. 4. Seek support. When we keep things inside, they often start to feel larger than life. They may seem unmanageable because you are trying to carry them alone. Talk the issue through with someone you trust. It may be a family member, a friend, a minister, or a therapist. The key is not to face it alone. 5. Get out of the box. We often put ourselves in the box of negative thinking by claiming that dysfunctional things are a permanent part of who we are. That is not true. Instead of constantly claiming that you can’t do it, start to shift your thinking to say I will do it. To be realistic this is of course easier said than done, but don’t surrender. Be patient with yourself. The first few times you try to address the issue, the words may not come, you may feel overwhelmed with emotion, or the person may misunderstand your point. Take time to learn from what happened and develop the support and skills you need to try it again, either in another way or with a different person. Sometimes people don’t respond well to you naming the issue because they want you to remain silent. Do not make your decision to address the issue solely based on if you think others will like what you have to say. Reclaim your life by reclaiming your voice.