Trying to avoid the unavoidable

This has been a week in my world of "ask a simple question, get an elaborate answer". My asking "what's on your mind?" or "how are you feeling?" has brought on a barrage of insatiable longings. These conversations had the look of everyone "trying to avoid the unavoidable" and acting like the present moment is not here. Here's how you can join me in recognizing the pattern in your world.

Our fight/flight response handles troubles in our minds as well as in our environment. We try to take flight from unwanted emotions, thoughts or imagined scenarios. It feels like we are under siege. We're getting attacked or invaded by anger, paranoia, panic or neediness. We're feeling dreadful and anxious to get away from how awful it seems.

We usually don't succeed when we run our "avoidance pattern". We experience being haunted by the form of misery we were running away from in our minds. It chases after us, won't leave us alone or stop being mean. We're hopeful, desperate and insecure. Our premise is powerless and dependent on others to make changes. We have no "success pattern" that gets the unwanted invasion to back off, evolve or turn itself around. We're facing a different challenge from those interpersonal meltdowns spawned by our unconscious success routines.

When we're trying to escape how we're feeling, we assume our unwanted experience is really avoidable. We wouldn't try if we've decided that there was no escape. We know what we're thinking, feeling and imagining that has to change. We don't see where all that comes from that is not going to change. We're in no position to judge whether or not our troubles are avoidable.

We don't see how our minds are playing tricks on us. We're under the impression that our painful past is here now. We're back in time as if no time has passed. We're living in our past while the present seems like the same old story. While we maintain this painful premise, the experience we're creating for ourselves is unavoidable. We can try to avoid it but not succeed. What we resist will persist.

None of these troubles can get to us in the present moment. The here and now calls for reality checks to discover the past is not here, not now. The present moment does not include the ways our minds play tricks on us. The now moment features countless questions to consider:
  • What do I want to pay attention to in particular right now?
  • What is the most important decision for me to work on at this time?
  • What do I need more information about before jumping to any conclusions?
  • What deserves my appreciation right now for going well, being valuable to me or making a delightful difference?
  • What can be seen differently by me from how it first appeared (as a problem, threat, obstacle, invasion, unchanging thing, etc)?
  • What difference do I want to make in this situation with the resources I have at my disposal right now?
  • What outcome do I want to imagine for this changing circumstance?
When we engage ourselves in the present moment with questions like these, our past is put in its proper place. The now becomes "what is" and the past becomes "so what". We are no longer tricked by our minds to replay the same old story. We stop oscillating between flight and fight We have changed our premise to be powerful in this moment. We are in command of how we see, think and choose right now. We feel differently about ourselves, our options and our future. We change what was unavoidable and no longer need to avoid it. Imagine that!

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