Focusing on what you want to avoid isn't the same as focusing on what you want

Awareness of how we truly want to feel and the path we want to walk is crucial for ensuring that we don’t be and do things that inadvertently take us away from those very things. Too often, we focus on what we want to avoid. The actions and thinking that go into avoidance, though, aren’t the same as those that reflect our desires.

For instance, consider wanting to be happy within a mutually fulfilling relationship that allows us to be our authentic self. That’s different from desiring a relationship based on fear of being alone or fear of stepping up.

Can we honestly say that we’d use the same thinking and actions for a healthy relationship as we would to avoid being alone? Would we make the same choices?

One is about love, care, trust, respect, shared values, interdependence, and personal security. The other is about codependency (excessive emotional reliance on others). The latter compromises everything that goes into making a healthy relationship, plus leaves us with very fragile self-esteem.

Likewise, a focus on healthy, mutual friendships creates a whole different set of thinking and behaviour from focusing on not pissing anyone off or inviting disapproval. The habits that go with each foster entirely different types of friendship as well as anxiety levels.

Let’s think about this: does avoiding conflict, criticism, disappointment and rejection, reduce or eliminate these? Or does this avoidance reduce or even eliminate our sense of self and actually magnify our fear of these?

I can be changed by what happens to be but I refuse to be reduced by it.

Focusing on avoidance ensures that we’ll spend most of our time worrying about how much we’re liked by others. We’ll have anxiety about whether we’ve done ‘enough’, whether we’ve done something wrong, etc. We’ll also live our lives according to fake rules while wondering why we feel so miserable.

Happiness and people-pleasing are mutually exclusive.

Let’s say we were in a very painful relationship and we’d gradually recognised that No Contact was necessary. Focusing on being happy and healthy leads to more supportive contributing actions on our part than focusing on avoiding pain.

Does, for instance, fear of breaking up, endings and change, mean that attempting to work things out is about achieving happiness?

Distinguishing between desiring personal happiness within a copiloted relationship and wanting to avoid certain things or basing our happiness on trying to influence and control others, gives us a hell of a lot more clarity about what we need to be focusing on. Awareness about what takes us away from who we are or towards it lines up with our knowledge of our values. We understand how our actions and choices stack up with our needs, etc.

We’ll still hurt. We’ll still battle with the grief feelings and having to move forward. And we’ll have moments where we’ll be tempted to reach out. But awareness of how we want to feel and what we ultimately want will minimise the pain that comes from short-circuiting our decisions by chasing temporary relief. Knowing what we want and what it actually involves means that we can remember what happened when we tried to make this person be the solution to avoiding an aspect ourselves. Or we can recall the reality of the relationship and recognise that it doesn’t have the components to give us what we want.

Make sure you’re not mistaking what you want to avoid with your desires and needs.   They’re not one and the same thing.

Your thoughts?

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