Harvard Business Review published an article last week defining stress as that feeling you experience when you are avoiding something. This rang true for me in my yoga and mindfulness practice.
In the Buddhist view, suffering arises when we resist the way things are and hold on to our expectations and judgements about how things 'should' be. When we avoid reality, we suffer.
One of my favorite quotes on this topic reads, "pain is inevitable but suffering is optional". There are numerous tricks to minimize avoidance, the most obvious being just get done what needs to get done. However, most of the time it isn't that simple. It's easy and natural to feel overwhelmed, especially if what you are avoiding isn't a black and white task that needs tackling. You might be resisting difficult feelings stemming from grief, loss, depression, or anxiety. In any case, here is a really simple method for confronting your fears:
1. Simply recognize that you are in avoidance mode without judging yourself. Breathe deeply a few times in this awareness, letting yourself feel this experience in your body. Maybe your chest, throat, or belly is tight. With each inhale, bring space to the areas of your body that are tight or calling for your attention. With each exhale, allow yourself to soften. If what you are avoiding is purely emotional and tears or laughter arise, give them space to release. Emotions are just energy and energy likes to move. We all know that grounded and peaceful feeling after a good cry or laugh, even if it just for a fleeting moment.
2. Next, if it is a task you are putting off, break it down into really small steps or micro tasks. If you are working on a project, you can start with setting a timer for five minutes and focusing only on that. Most of the time, you'll find that you will continue to work much longer than the initial time limit.
3. If you notice yourself beginning to avoid the situation again, simply repeat the first two steps.
I hope this helps. As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions.