What Are You Avoiding?

In this episode JJ and Melissa discuss avoidance and the different ways we try to hide from some of the realities of life.

October 27, 2020
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness journey podcast. This little banter is about a car ride long and features your hosts, JJ Parker, and Melissa Albers. JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:17  
So Melissa, I've got such an amazing superpower and gift, mentally that i don't i don't know that you know this. But I am. I am the world's best procrastinator. I bring I brought it to like a whole new level.

Melissa Albers  0:41  
It's almost like, it's almost like you're avoiding something.

JJ Parker  0:44  
Yeah, I'm like going for a world record, actually. Because I can't I actually don't think I can get anything done. Unless the amount of procrastination gets to a point where it's downright embarrassing.

Melissa Albers  1:03  
Well, this is a great self awareness piece on

JJ Parker  1:08  
there. Yeah, thanks. Thanks. And, you know, it really worked for me for like, a little while, until everything absolutely gets to a breaking point.

Melissa Albers  1:23  
Our conversation today about avoidance, like things we avoid, and why do we avoid them?

JJ Parker  1:33  
This is like, personally, this is my favorite, because it is my go to move. I mean, if it like if you want to try all sorts of avoidance, right, like, physical avoidance, like, I'm not going to go mow the lawn, like emotional avoidance, like, I do not want to talk about my feelings, like, mental avoidance, like I don't want to sit down and work on that blog post, right. Spiritual avoidance, like let's not think about, you know, death or anything beyond. Just sit here and focus on sorting my shirts by color, sub sorted by season, sub sorted by arm length,

Melissa Albers  2:23  
sub sorted by texture and fabric. Oh, my guys is very, very, very funny. And, you know, we like, I think you and I know each other well enough now where we know when we're both in full cry, avoiding something that we don't want to deal with, or we don't feel completely resourced to deal with, like, even in Yeah, the self awareness journey. You know, we're into this several months now. And I was talking with one of my clients yesterday, and she said, Oh, I'm really enjoying your podcasts like, I'm, I listened to them all the time. And I normally I'm not one who stays up on schedules and stuff. And, and I said, Oh, what do you think of the website? And she said, What website? which reminded me that we are not good at self promotion, marketing, right? Yeah,

JJ Parker  3:21  
we're, we're avoiding the marketing part. And it's working

Melissa Albers  3:24  
really well, because nobody even knows that we have a website, which, by the way, if any listeners interested, it's the self awareness. journey.com. Well, but even with that, like, look at this, we're working on self awareness. And all of a sudden, we're like being reminded, and we already knew this, but we kind of forgot or, or avoided, that we're doing next to nothing to promote or market. This wonderful thing?

JJ Parker  3:52  
Well, I say you and I go through these cycles, you know, I think a lot of times avoidance comes in cycles, right? where, like, we know, there's a big project we should work on. It's, you know, for some it's in our head, maybe it's it's big, or we can't quite figure out where to start, right. And instead of doing something, like anything, you just do nothing.

Melissa Albers  4:19  

JJ Parker  4:21  
It seems like an easy thing to do. Right? But yeah, doing nothing is also a decision. Right?

Melissa Albers  4:27  
Well, and you know, the thing is, is that as we're talking about as we do awareness, which is the conscious awareness in the moment, right, of how your being and how you feel, avoiding things feels really sort of good on the on the surface, but usually the deeper feeling of avoidance, there's you don't feel good about doing it. You don't feel good about avoiding it.

JJ Parker  4:53  
Right. I like I agree, like I I currently have a big project that he had to deliver at work. And there's like that i this happens to me a lot too. Like I get 90% of the way there, but that last time percent Oh, yeah. Oh boy. Right. But right now, like right now, like it's not done. And I know it's not done and I know like 10 people are just sitting there waiting for me to say, here it is it's all done. But for some reason, like, there's this, like, this resistance right this block to Yeah, me actually getting it. So like, why is that? Right? Yeah. And and if we really like, peel that back, you know. And this this particular project, Second Edition we're doing to our website. And the fact is if I start really thinking about what's happening there, it's like, I'm not really confident at the idea I have, you know, like, I want to present things in a certain way, but I'm not really sure if that's the right way to do it. And so I really haven't been able to just get that part done.

Melissa Albers  6:19  
Yeah. Because I'm not feeling quite sure. something in us. I'm not feeling

JJ Parker  6:23  
Sure. Yeah. Yeah, everything I'm sure on, crank it out. That's no problem. But when we start to get to these edges, and you start to feel like not super confident, or maybe not super competent in what you're doing, it really starts to slow you down to the point where you might just like me grind to a halt on it, and you just can't approach it. Yeah. Yeah, what app and what will happen here, like I can already I can, you know, use over and over is at some point, now, maybe tomorrow, maybe Monday? Someone's gonna be like, ah, JJ, you got that upside stuff done yet? And I'll be like, crowl, and I'll sit down. And it'll just all come right out.

Melissa Albers  7:10  
Yeah, like, yeah, you're forced, I've gotta

JJ Parker  7:11  
get over that. I've got to get over that hump. And it's a weird part of my artistic cycle. Actually, I take that back. It's not weird at all. No. It goes through this. So it is part of the artistic cycle, the creative cycle. Um, yeah, but then, but I feel like crap right now that I haven't done it. I feel bad. I feel ashamed. Right. I feel embarrassed. Yeah, you know, and that's not helping matters at all.

Melissa Albers  7:39  
Yeah. It's interesting, though, because right now, you're really focusing on the mental part of avoidance, you know, like the thinking patterns and, and the things that come around that. And I think too, like, you know, one of our books like you, it's you, I believe it's your favorite book,

JJ Parker  7:55  
it is my favorite book.

Melissa Albers  7:58  
And you introduce me to that book, I don't know, four years ago, or several years ago, and I think I've read it probably four or five times. And I think you should just tell people a little about that book, because it's really fun.

JJ Parker  8:12  
Alright, so my favorite book is called the War of Art by Steven pressfield. And he's a writer, he, he wrote a couple pretty famous books. But he wrote this book about the his creative process, or I'd say maybe just the creative process in general. And he describes a thing called the resistance. And the resistance is what the artist is battling against. And the resistance is trying to keep you from doing your very best work.

Melissa Albers  8:54  
And I should I want to say to that the artist does not mean art. It doesn't mean any sort of art. It means the creative process, whatever you do is your

JJ Parker  9:03  
Yes. Any creative act any and, you know, I I believe that every single person on the planet is extremely creative. You know, I don't when someone when someone maybe labels me as creative, I was pushed back pretty hard on that and say, and you are to know I have nothing special here. Yeah, Mike. But, yeah, so the resistance so the resistance is that thing that's keeping you from doing your very best work? And it comes up in all sorts of ways, right? It comes up in like, mostly in avoidance, right? Yeah. In you know, doing things you're not supposed to entertaining yourself to death, you know, go into the bar, like, yeah, whatever, whatever it might be obsessive gardening, I don't know.

Melissa Albers  9:54  
basket weaving underwater.

JJ Parker  9:58  
But his point Is that the thing? That the idea, the project, the work that is giving you the most resistance, which is finding you the most is the one you're supposed to be working on. Right? And I use that as a guidepost all the time. Yeah. Like the thing that I'm scared of, is the thing I should be doing. Because the easy stuff, I've already done it. Yeah, right.

Melissa Albers  10:28  
Yeah. This is a really interesting topic. It's just, you know, I would want to ask, stop right now and ask the question, like, what do you think? And maybe you don't need to know the answer. I don't know the answer. But what do you think is what causes you to mentally have that kind of resistance personally, like everybody listening? It's like, what is that that puts you into that mode of avoidance? And what is the feeling behind it? So you started to alluding a little bit to your avoidance feelings when you were having these mental blocks, like trying to get projects done and stuff like that? And you just said, Well, I'm not quite confident about what it is, or I don't feel like I'm equipped maybe to do this in the way I expect myself to be. So that could be some perfectionism. You know, it's like, for me, I avoid things that require a lot of detail. So if I have to write scripts, or if I have to, I do a lot of assessed assessment work with people, 360 assessments, which is lots of detailed data entry and that sort of thing. And for me, I absolutely can't stand those things. Because for me, it isn't so much not feeling equipped to do them. It's the level of energy that I have to put towards doing something. Not sure not my natural sweet spot. I don't like giving up that energy. I don't like it. I don't like having to use my energy and focus so strongly, just so I don't make mistakes. Yeah, it takes so much more out of me. So I avoid that. Yeah, I avoid those. And I have to choose times of the day now, I figured out how to get over some of that stuff. Like, you know, if I have to do a lot of detail work, I make myself do it immediately. First thing in the morning, because I'm really strong, physically, emotionally, mentally,

JJ Parker  12:33  
when you have the most energy,

Melissa Albers  12:34  
you want to have the most energy, then I'll just get right after that, and try to get past those things that I'm avoiding.

JJ Parker  12:41  
So that's like, that's a really great tip. Right, this idea that, hey, when you're in this avoidance mode, really sit with yourself. And, and and feel how, how that's affecting you. Right? Yeah. And then think about, well, how can I put myself into a different scenario where I can sort of offset that stuff? Right? Yeah. And I think for you as an energy thing, like, yeah, you get more tired in the afternoon, and you just know, yep, you got to move that, that work up to the beginning of the day.

Melissa Albers  13:11  
Yeah. And you know, there's a million things out there that tell people how to be, quote, more productive, you know, stop procrastinating today, and it's all these mental, you know, calisthenics, to try to find new processes to get over it. But I really think like, when you and I work on this journey, it's really more about let's get in the front end of this, you know, what is the what are the feelings behind us that are preventing us from being able to really create, and that's the mental part. But like, I think that this, this whole notion of avoidance in you mentioned it at the beginning of our conversation, you said, like spiritual avoidance. So now that's a big, dark, dark, deep thing. But I really want to talk about this just a little bit, because I think lots of people avoid having strong relationships with themselves, which is the spiritual piece, right? Hey, we all have a core, we all have a guiding core principle, we all have sort of a guiding energy that's been with us forever. You people call it this little small voice or their conscience or their spirit or their soul or their relationship with God or if their relationship with a higher power, whatever it might be. And it's very interesting when people are in pain, or they live their lives in a state of not being particularly happy. Oftentimes, they are truly avoiding the spiritual part of themselves because of heavier emotions or fear, fear of heavier emotions, like, I'm going to feel guilty because I don't do these things religiously. You know, like, I there's a big distinction between religion and spirituality. What I'm referring to is our spiritual internal people. He's like our real core. And and it's, it's really interesting to see how much pain people cause themselves simply by avoiding themselves.

JJ Parker  15:12  
Mm hmm. Yeah, because sometimes that's a little scary, right? We had, we had an episode called, or we call it the canoe of fear, right? Where we talked about the idea like sometimes when you're working on yourself, and in this way we can say, maybe working on your spiritual self. Yeah, when you push off into the darkness, and you sort of like, yeah, maybe lose sight of the shore, every so often, it's scary. And that's naturally, you want to kind of avoid that, right?

Melissa Albers  15:44  
And yet, and yet, the more you know, yourself, the easier it is to be you, you know, and the more fun it is to be you and the easier it is for you to create. So a lot of times, those are what I always call like, yesterday, I was on a coaching session, and I and I, and I had this weird phrase popped into my mind, because this individual is dealing with a boss who's being kind of a jerk. And, and I said, you know, it's like, they're your big bad wolf. You know, it's like, here you are Little Red Riding Hood, you're kind of heading down the path doing your own thing and joy smelling flowers looking around. And all of a sudden, this big, bad wolf takes you by surprise jumps in the middle of what you're doing. And it's scary. Like, all of a sudden, they're they're imposing something on you or they're, they're speaking down to you, or they're making you feel afraid. And yet, it's a paper tiger. It's not really a big bad. Oh, really? Yeah, it's for tiger. And, and, and I think in the, in this conversation as it relates to our own core, sometimes the fear that we create is much more a big bad wolf. And when we look at it, we can simply poke a hole in it with our finger, and it's actually a paper tiger. It's not real, but it will avoid that all day long. Because we don't know that it's a paper tiger. It looks pretty big and hairy and scary.

JJ Parker  17:07  
You know, what other kind of avoidance? I'm really good at? Yeah, what is emotional avoidance?

Melissa Albers  17:16  
Truth be told me, I've witnessed this one twice. Do the same.

JJ Parker  17:23  
Yeah, cuz, you know, sometimes, when I have really strong emotions, I just don't want to deal with them. Some, sometimes I don't want to deal with them. Actually, most of the time, I don't want to deal with them. And then I, sometimes I actually think that suppresses it by suppressing them. I'm actually not helping myself, but like helping other people around me. So like, an example of this is like, years back, you know, I was going through a, you know, pretty big change in my business. And you know, it's my business partner. And it's very, very emotional. Right. And so at work, it was like, maximum emotional stress. Yeah. And when I came home, like, I just didn't want to deal with all that emotional stress I've been carrying all day. So I would just kind of keep that in. Right. And I thought that I was doing a favor to my family, you know, especially to my wife by like, not just exploding this emotional wreckage all over her every single night, right. Yeah. And so I don't know how that lesson, take a year, like a long time. Yeah. And after, like, quite a few years after she and I were talking about that period of our life. And she said that that time was terrible. Yeah, you know, I was like, why? Like, it wasn't that bad. I compartmentalised all of this, yeah, emotion I was having it all worked out. Fine. What are you talking about? And, and her thing was that that, like, since I was, like, avoiding dealing with all of those emotions, like with her, yeah. And I wasn't like I she said, I, you know, you're really distant

Melissa Albers  19:36  
that she probably felt you were really far away. Yeah.

JJ Parker  19:41  
And so what I thought was that I was kind of like, being nice to her. Turned out that I was actually causing a bigger problem, right. Interesting to collateral damage. I didn't realize I was causing.

Melissa Albers  19:58  
Yeah, and I think too So you're talking about the reactive state of emotional avoidance, like, you know, like, I was having such strong emotion. So I was reacting in this way deciding to not participate here in a certain way, or I was, you know, being certain things. But I would just like point out in the story, the first thing that I was thinking of is my goodness, like, think about how much energy it was taking you and how much energy it takes us to, when we are avoiding something emotionally, the act of that avoidance takes so much energy, it takes so much energy from us. And we don't, we don't, I think like when you get depleted of energy, and you're just so worn down, you don't even have in the, you don't have the real time awareness to how much that's happening. Like you don't have, you just can't tell. But it's, it's really, really, really challenging. Everything else becomes super hard when we're in that process. And I too, like there's been a lot of times in my life, where the emotional response that I have, I might, what I might even do is something a little difference. All right, I was very good at this before. And I'm trying to be terrible at it now. Which is, I would come up with a secondary emotion to mask the first one that I was avoiding. So for me, like I always say there's two sponsoring emotions to everything, love, and fear. And if I got my feelings hurt about something, I'm a really sensitive person, like, I'm extremely sensitive, and I would get my feelings hurt. And then I would feel so mad that I got my feelings hurt. So rather than being able to just say, I feel really sad about that, I would avoid that feeling. Because I did not like feeling out of control. I didn't like feeling weak. And it felt more normal air quotes, to have a different emotion. And I felt like it was an easier emotion to explain, and to push out to the world. And so like, I think there's a whole bunch of layers of emotional avoidance. And I would just say, Wow, the thing is, is like the energy that it takes to be in that state of avoidance is massive. And as I've worked on learning how to just be more present with Oh, this is well, how, what is this feeling? I'm having Oh, okay, what's, what's behind this feeling? As I'm always, you know, saying an offering as a good suggestion to try. It's like you have a strong feeling sit with it and try to Oh, what is this feeling about? Let's not have a strong reaction. Let's just as I've gotten more and more practice doing that, it's really helped in the emotional avoidance portion. But boy, boy, I'll still do it if it's something big, you know, yeah. And then we have the last of the four, which is physical avoidance. And I think there's all sorts of things that we humans do to avoid physical things. Like, I would be happy to toss myself under the bus first and say, I do not want to eat vegetables. I want to eat an entire bag of mini butterfingers instead. Physically, I am avoiding health, because it tastes better.

JJ Parker  23:39  
Right, like how many we all do that like eating exercising, right? It's like, you know, all exercise. Tomorrow. Yeah, perpetually, tomorrow,

Melissa Albers  23:53  
or January 1. Jerry first. That's it, man. I'm turning over a new plate.

JJ Parker  24:00  
Yep, that's when the parking lot at the fitness club is really packed for like, two and a half weeks yoga

Melissa Albers  24:07  
studios. And I always I remember walking in at the beginning of the year and saying, Well, I guess I won't be able to find a parking spot until the seventh. And the yoga instructor said, Oh, you're being way too optimistic. It's usually the fourth.

JJ Parker  24:26  
Well, the physical avoidance is, you know, that one is probably the easiest to correlate to energy output, right? Like we talked about emotion, you know, emotional avoidance and, and how that zaps your energy but zaps a kind of in a different way. Physical avoidance is like, you know, you did too much physical and you just feel tired, right?

Melissa Albers  24:49  
Yeah, absolutely.

JJ Parker  24:52  
So that one, that one's really easy, you know, and the emotional journey again, it's

Melissa Albers  24:55  
like think about that the energy drain again, by content. putting pressure on yourself about physically getting yourself better in better form, whether that be weight or strength or physical well being or eating, you know, or whatever.

JJ Parker  25:14  
Well, those two certainly play off each other really well, right? Because, because if you're not feeling physically fit, and you know that you should go do something, then you start feeling bad about it, you have a negative emotion about it, and then you judge yourself. Yep. And it's just a cycle and then actually feel mentally terrible, which causes you to not want to physically do anything. Yeah, it is like, yeah, it is like the avoidance spiral. Yes, perfectly. It's perfect. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  25:47  
It's a perfect process.

JJ Parker  25:49  
It's the perfect storm. Well, I think one of them was just gonna say, one of our favorite humans uses this phrase all the time. And I just want to pass it on that. Because I I think about it, when I get stuck is, is every time I get stuck. He just goes JJ, baby steps. You know, like, what's the littlest thing I can do? What's the smallest thing I can do? To get movement? Yeah, towards the thing I'm avoiding. Right. And that's such a good way to start. Because you don't have to, you know, whether it be going to the gym or, or working on a project that you're trying to avoid or even exploring your spiritual side, like, like, you don't have to go, like, all huge in 110%. Right? You know, because that that's actually scary and hard. Like, what's the very smallest thing you can do? Yeah, you don't start with the very littlest thing. Yeah. And then then do the next very littlest thing. Yeah, like, you don't have to be a hero. It just starts with little baby steps. Yeah,

Melissa Albers  27:08  
exactly. Right. And and, and what I feel like is another really strong takeaway from our conversation is to just take a moment in when you know, because everybody knows what they avoid, like, everybody knows that. They're really used to the reactive state, avoiding it and the feeling of guilt and shame. And you know, I'm procrastinating mad at yourself and stuff like that. What I would say would be also a really interesting thing to do, would be to consider, what is the feeling behind what I'm avoiding? What What is the actual source of that? Is it fear of something? Is it fear of not being good enough? You know, as you were mentioning, earlier, with your example with a website, Is it fear of, you know, fear of being hurt, fear of pain, fear of the unknown? Is it anger about something like just sitting for a moment and getting to the to the front end of that and understanding what the feeling is about, I think can also be extremely helpful.

JJ Parker  28:07  
Yeah, yeah, that's great. So with that, I am off to go sort my pants. By length,

Melissa Albers  28:18  
I'll expect a picture later. If you've enjoyed this podcast, check us out on the web at the self awareness journey.com. You can also find us on LinkedIn and Facebook

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Discussed in this episode

Let's get real

Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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