Avoiding Stress and Causing Problems for Myself... What Else Is New?
Hello and welcome back to the Sunday Series!
Today I am reporting in from our sunroom. The light is shining through the forest behind our house, and I can hear our neighbors calling out to each other to say hello. My husband is cleaning our boat out, and my toes are EXTRA COLD. In short, it's a peaceful kind of afternoon.
But despite all this peace, there is in fact something that I need to share: today I had a total emotional breakdown. Isn't it crazy though? Here I am enjoying the peace of our sunroom hours after I was in tears and totally overwhelmed. If you ever wanted to meet a real-life rollercoaster, YOU'RE LOOKING AT HER!
So as usual, whenever I have a total emotional breakdown, I try to figure out "why." I love doing a little mystery solving with myself because seriously... I am a total work-in-progress. A week doesn’t go by where I don’t have to sit down, journal, and analyze my emotional state.
But as I was rooting out the source of my stress, it became intensely clear that I was overwhelmed from all of the stress I have been AVOIDING lately.
See, I don't get stressed from stress: I get stressed because I AVOID that stress, and... let it pile up until it becomes a festering mess.
I let all the conflict, responsibilities, needs, and problems rot in the corner of my heart until I can't ignore them anymore! I swear, it is coded within my actual biology to avoid relational conflict, stress, and frustrations. I'm as non-confrontational as they come and while that has truly served me in life, it has also created the bad habit of constantly avoiding my problems and putting off my responsibilities.
It's like whenever I even get a WHIFF that something's going to be difficult, stressful, or full of conflict, I get all bushy-tailed and run to hide under the bed like an abused tabby-cat. The problem here is that this tabby-cat often ends up stressing out herself, AND her very patient husband.
When I feel overwhelmed, I begin searching around my soul for some sort of existential problem or crisis, when in reality, the REAL problem is that I have 20 unread text messages and a pile of laundry waiting for me. Not exactly fodder for deep introspection, but still enough to bring me to tears. I know... I'm fragile.
But now that I'm finally growing up, thinking towards becoming a mother, and trying to improve as much as possible, I'm realizing that if I constantly try to run away from my problems and stress, I'm never going to feel better. And when I have a ton of little ones pulling at my skirts, it's not going to be good to ALSO be crying over minor stresses like unread text messages!
So yes, I'm on a path towards GROWING UP and saying goodbye to the avoidance monster! I have to. I have to stop avoiding my stress and "woman-up." I need to do this so that motherhood won't be a nightmare for everyone involved because we all know that motherhood is FULL of stress.
So as I’ve come to realize, and as my therapist from college tried to communicate: the problem with avoidance is that it ultimately leads to more stress, anxiety, frustration, and pain in the long run than what we would experience if we just faced our problems and stressors NOW.
Now I truly think that if I just grew up and dealt with my stress instead of letting it rot in the background of my life, I would be able to avoid many of the emotional breakdowns I have been cycling through since puberty.
So if it causes so much stress, why do I keep avoiding? Well, I can sense that there is some sort of fear driving my avoidance. I fear pain, relationship conflict, failure, and so many other things, and consequently, choose avoidance over courage every time.
But I'm no believer that fear is always a bad thing: fear causes us to self-preserve and often ensures that we are choosing the best options in life that will lead to our safety and security. Fear is a natural response to stress. We were created that way!
The problem really isn't having fear in life. We all have fears wrought from terrible experiences or real threats. The problem is when we allow that fear to ruin our spirit and prevent us from being effective: this is what avoidance does to us.
I realize that I avoid stressful tasks, confrontations, and conflict because of my fear of disappointing other people and fear of failure. But the problem is that you cannot avoid your stress without it boiling up. Stress has a way of ruining your moment until you finally deal with it.
I think that as I grow, these patterns of avoidance and the havoc they wreak are becoming increasingly obvious. So I’m trying to be better and to take steps forward and AVOID avoidance.
I'm learning to be more mature and less emotionally reactive. I'm learning to take care of my responsibilities, even if those responsiblities involve an uncomfortable conversation. I'm learning that I cannot be flawless all the time, or even most of the time LOL, and most of all... I'm learning that in order to be a grown-up, I cannot avoid pain every single time.
So today, I encourage you my love: stop avoiding your stress and begin taking charge. Step into adulthood with me, and let's kick those responsibilities together. Let's choose fortitude over the emotional, and hard work over the easy path.
Oftentimes, I've realized that what we fear most isn't what actually HAPPENS! And sure, sometimes it will, but we cannot live life in fear.
So don't be hard on yourself: your tendency to be agreeable, avoid conflict, and get along is a GOOD and nurturing trait. But don't let that trait grow too big and overwhelm the other part of you that needs nourishment: the adult, grown-up, taking-care-of-responsibilities part.
I believe in you, and I hope you have a beautiful day. I’m going to go open my unread texts and then I’m going to go fold that pile of towels.
I know now these aren’t huge milestones for everyone, but for me, they’re big enough.
Sending love to you all.