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Avoidance creates space between us and the potential threat we might be facing.  And like a young kid who hides his face when he’s scared, perhaps some part of us still believes we, or our challenge, will disappear when we can keep it out of sight. But in reality the dilemma of avoidance is that it often brings about the very things we fear.

To be sure, hiding one’s face as a kid doesn’t make the boogieman go away. And neither does avoiding issues as an adult. Certainly, it’s easier to avoid, at least at first. But unresolved issues will only fester and grow. And in time our avoidance might become a type of self-fulfilling prophecy – ushering in what we sought to escape.

For instance, the fear of rejection might lead us to avoid applying for a promotion, starting our own business, or even sharing with our trusted others the deep desires in our heart. But this keeps us from the experience we need to succeed, and it sets us up for much resentment and misunderstanding as well. We soon start to experience rejection because we’re not living in our sweet spot.

And this plays out as well when we avoid relational conflicts. While we don’t want to rock the boat, this is only faking the peace. And eventually tensions escalate into heated arguments, or we simply drift apart when there are no longer any “safe” topics left to discuss. Our avoidance brings the very relational breakdown we were hoping to prevent. 

To be fair, every issue doesn’t have to be addressed or ever opportunity pursued. There is wisdom in letting many things go. But this letting go is not the same as putting our head in the sand. And we invite much unnecessary suffering when we merely avoid what should be addressed.

In the end, while avoidance might buy you some time to make a better response, it’s not a good long-term strategy  – often bringing about the very thing you hoped to escape.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels

Dr. Corey Carlisle

Licensed marriage and family therapist and certified sex therapist - providing Christian counseling and soul care to individuals and couples, with a special emphasis on developing the masculine soul. Suwanee, GA 30024

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