I can’t help but chuckle to myself as I write this article on avoidance: the reality is that I’ve been putting off writing this piece for months now. Writing does not come easily to me and I will use just about any excuse not do it. Now, as I begin to write, I can feel a constriction in my chest, tightening of my throat and thoughts about the article not being ‘good enough’. As human beings we have the tendency to avoid things that bring up unpleasant feelings, thoughts and sensations.
Vulnerability is most often associated with something to be avoided, for example, being vulnerable to illness, vulnerable to attack, or vulnerable to being taken advantage of. One cannot deny that it is sometimes more sensible to steer clear of situations which are unpredictable and make us aware of our vulnerabilities. We avoid lingering at the base of an active volcano, put off driving when the roads are hazardous, and steer clear of being quoted in the newspaper. These are obvious vulnerabilities that register as a greater potential of loss than to gain.
Anger is, in my opinion, a commonly misunderstood emotion. The value of anger tends to be diminished by an unfavorable reputation; one that suggests it is destructive or harmful. However, everyone feels angry from time to time, and while anger can be expressed through hurtful and destructive actions (everything from physical aggression and road rage to hurtful behavior or comments in relationships) it can also be our ally when channeled constructively. Anger is part of our moral compass, it lets us know that something is wrong, and it informs our thoughts and behavior.
A number of years ago I heard the Dalai Lama being interviewed on a radio program. The interviewer asked him whether His Holiness was happy. “Interesting question,” I thought to myself as I eagerly awaited his response. After a significant pause the Dalai Lama gently said, “I am like the ocean, sometimes the waves go up and sometimes the waves go down, but underneath is always calm.” The Dalai Lama’s words resonated with me in a very powerful way; this calm beneath the storm was exactly what I was working to cultivate within myself and hoped to foster within my clients.
All of us in romantic relationships get stuck and experience difficulty connecting at times. Relationship is like a dance. Sometimes we are in synch, moving beautifully across the dance floor together. The dance flows and we feel emotionally attuned to our partner. At other times the dance feels clumsy; we misinterpret cues and step on each other’s toes.
You may have heard the term ‘personal boundary’ used and wondered to yourself what it actually means for you in the context of your life. Maybe you have dismissed the concept of boundaries as psychobabble and of little relevance to you. Or perhaps you have felt disrespected by another person and thought that your boundary may have been challenged in some way.
Most of us at some point in our lives have an encounter with the overpowering fear of failure. It strikes at pivotal moments, when facing a change or advancement in career, when in the pursuit of education, or preparing for parenthood. Our tolerance for disappointment and attitude towards making a mistake play a central role in our decision whether or not to pursue a goal.