Avoiding vs Dealing

Whether your problem is intangible, such as anxiety and stress, or an addiction that is blatantly before you, there comes a point where you enter the crossroads of transition from avoidance to actually dealing with the problem. As most therapists have experienced, we often learn more from our clients than we teach them, and I am frequently privileged to share this with my clients. As such, it was a recent client that it put it so bluntly: “I want to stop avoiding my problem and start dealing with it.”

After this moment of clarity, I thoughtfully but simply responded, “You already are.” I went on to explain that the first and most important step is the choice to do something about the problem. Choice, a word casually thrown around, but the actions behind its meaning are so powerful that they can result in salvation and even alter the course of human history. This may sound extreme, but for somebody beginning the long road to recovery, it takes choice to embark on that path.

There are subsequent steps of course, but all must be chosen by the traveler, otherwise the effects will not last and dealing with the problem will not have truly transpired. Along each individual’s pathway, these steps may vary, but as millions before me have experienced, a 12-Step model can be a map, or for those tech-savvy bunch, a GPS to guide them along the way to their destination. As the process commences, dealing with temptations, such as stopping daily trips to the local bar, may resemble avoiding the problem, but as admittance leads to restoration and eventually amends, a true transformation can occur.

Yes, you may need to stop certain habits, or steer clear of certain places or even people, but you do not have to leave it there, otherwise you may get stuck in the vortex of avoidance. Dealing requires facing one’s problems, gaining support from those who care for you, and moving forward in the midst of adversity. Avoiding is just walking around or in the opposite direction of the problem.

I encourage all those who are considering or already have made the choice to do something about their problem to be diligent and seek support and encouragement. There are resources, such as local recovery groups, and if that seems too scary, there are always friends or family (it might surprise you how supportive they can actually be). You may initially be by yourself, but that does not mean you must go at it alone, but alas, that is a topic for another day.

Feel free to contact me anytime if you need assistance in finding help or resources in your area. As usual, comments, questions, and feedback are always welcome.

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