Three Steps to Stop Avoiding and Start Living with Intention

By Christine Finnegan @ The Cypress Counseling Group

Social Media, TV, fast-food, and alcohol are your after work companions. They help you find comfort inside of the small moments of time you find in your week for yourself. But what you’ve found, is that you wake up the next morning with that all too familiar feeling of panic and anxiety.

I can’t do this.

You haven’t responded to any of your emails, texted that family member back, and you can’t remember the last time you shaved your legs. But here you go again- Another day of tasks and responsibility that you anxiously race through- all the while yearning to get back to the couch and watch some more “Handmaid’s Tale.”

Is it the weekend yet?

You book out vacations to try to make up for six months of self-care. But find that within the first week of returning from vacation, you fall right back into that same chaotic spiral.

How do I make this madness stop?

Life is going to continue to be messy and I’m sorry to say it, but this blog will not necessarily eliminate that to do list. But there are ways to stop avoiding the things that overwhelm you in life and start feeling a sense of order and control inside your life again.

It all boils down to how intentional you are being inside of the small moments each day- rather than allowing the big moments to pull you from one frantic task to the next.

How do you live life with intention?

Step 1: Stop trying to do everything all at once!

Often times when I am working with my women and teen-girl clients that struggle with avoidance, it is not because they are lazy or incapable of accomplishing tasks. Rather, they are shut down by the overwhelming picture of all that needs to be done. They feel paralyzed and hopeless in their ability to accomplish anything, not knowing how to even begin, and therefore find ways to comfort themselves through distracting, dissociating and avoiding life.

This avoidance is the breeding ground for panic, fear, and anxiety. By avoiding- you actually validate your brain’s reason to feel fear in the first place, thus leading to more fear and more panic- can you say Panic Attack!

So what do you do then? Most people find themselves avoiding even more- mentally checking out of conversations, playing hours upon hours of candy crush on their phone; Losing hours, days and even weeks out of the year through binge watching Netflix and Hulu series.

Grounding yourself to the moment and breaking things down into small, attainable intentions, is the first step to getting out of this toxic cycle.

Step 2: Validate yourself when you make small progress!

If you’re anything like most of my clients, you probably don’t give yourself very much credit for the small accomplishments you make each day. Instead, you probably do a great job of telling yourself what else needs to be done, what more you could be doing, and all of the different ways you are falling short in life.

The messages that you send yourself are a lot of the reason you start getting into the pattern of avoidance in the first place. No one wants those messages being broadcasted to themselves- even if you’re the one thinking it.

If you don’t give yourself credit for the small intentions that you set and follow through on, you end up feeling bad about yourself, overwhelmed, and shutdown. You lose the motivation to keep the momentum going and ultimately fall back into the avoidant behaviors.

If you suck at giving yourself credit for small things, try keeping a bullet journal by your bedside table. Every morning or night, write down three things you accomplished that day- no matter how small.

Step 3: Build intention inside of every aspect of your life.

Not all at once! If you try to do that, I need you to circle back to step 1!

Living with intention not only means being present in the moment but also present with yourself and your needs.

Everything from that food you eat, the space you create at home, the news and social media that you consume, the clothes that you wear and even the people you surround yourself with, are examples of choices you make every day.

When we move into these choices from a very intentional place- meaning we purposefully and carefully choose them- we are more likely to get our needs met.

Ever lose hours of time on social media and find yourself feeling even more depressed and anxious than you did before? Me too.

Intention in these moments looks like-purposefully using that time to ask a friend over to play board games, going to the dog park and meeting new people that share similar interests, or going for a 15 minute walk outside. Time it if you must, and then give yourself credit for doing that.

Bringing yourself back into this moment is how you reclaim your life. Avoidance doesn’t have to continue to be something you feel trapped by.

If you need help breaking free from the cycle of avoidance, I would love to help you walk through that process. Call me today and we can talk about it together.

Christine Finnegan, M.A., LPC-MHSP (Temp), NCC

ReplenishHER Counseling for Women and Teen Girls

Her Heart Project, Inc.