The Law of Avoidance

If you're like most people you've got a handful of confrontations you're avoiding with yourself, others, next steps, calls, etc. Reminders come at odd hours of the night as you lay awake chewing on the options.

Let's look at what I call the Law of Avoidance. I won’t be writing a book or trying to make a movie on it…

The Law of Avoidance states that our avoidances actively prevent connections for growth. Exploring this myself and with clients has shown me that avoidance is more accurately a void in awareness, a gap in attention and therefore a gap in our ability to act on the very thing that can connect us with real progress in our business, relationships and life.

In my first few years of business coaching I focused on Managerial and Leadership Development and avoided deepening my understanding of financial reporting. It cost me from helping several clients I had great rapport and success in other areas. It wasn’t until I faced it head on that I began helping clients more acutely with some dramatic shifts in their financial blind spots, and subsequently my own relationship with my financial reports, planning and metrics became an asset. 

To be clear, I'm not talking about choices that we make to not confront a person in a heated or tense situation, or other conscious choices to not engage for emotionally intelligent reasons.

Knock knock. Knock knock. Knock knock... Knock it off already, I’ve got more important things to do!


Any way you slice it, our avoidances are persistent, a faint knock at our door as we go about our day, sometimes passing like a fleeting whisper when we hear someone’s voice or glance at a name on an invoice. But despite the discovery possible in meeting our avoidances head on to find out what they have to show us, we’ve learned to block them out. We turn away and go toward what's comfortable or familiar, or find a 'tangible' problem we can solve to temporarily ease the pinch.

I’ve learned that a big part of the issue lies in how the word confrontation itself can be triggering. For many of us the word has a negative association from our past that triggers an emotional response, and then a swift sweeping under the proverbial rug.   

When we can slow down enough on a regular basis to look closer at what opportunity or potential is on the other side of the avoidance, we start to see a bigger pattern at work. A pattern that's holding us back from getting what we think or declare we want. The thing is, you've got to breech the walls of your own discomfort to get the goodies.    

Persistently waiting behind every avoidance of what you perceive as conflict, is an opportunity to connect more honestly with yourself.


In other words, the opposite of avoidance - is connection.

As an equation, it might look something like this:

Avoidance ÷ Curiosity = Discovery & Connection

Think about it for a moment. Take an avoidance and get intimate with it by dividing its intensity with some questions. I promise you’ll find some new angles and potential benefit and connection staring back at you.

See if any of these scenarios prompt your own reframing of avoidance.

  • Avoiding confronting your partner about an uncomfortable conversation regarding some spending that is questionable. What’s uncomfortable? Will you choose prolonged discomfort over a chance to find out if it’s as bad as you think, and likely get one step closer to a resolution? This translates into an opportunity to make a connection with your bookkeeper, director, or partner about finance and a chance to get real about what systems you need to monitor spending, and what reports you need to be able to read.
  • Making that call to the vendor who owes you, but keeps telling you it's coming. This translates into the opportunity to connect with another business owner who is also avoiding a conversation but now has a chance to re-up a new commitment, or pay up because you caught them at a good moment. It could also help build a better relationship, or even expedite the ending of one that no longer serves you.
  • Confronting your compulsion to be the chief problem solver and not micro-manage that new director or manager. This translates into an opportunity for taking an important step of empowering them to lead and grow through direct experience. It's also an opportunity for you to evoke their own problem solving with better questions, not to mention freeing up crucial strategic time and head space for you to work on more important things. 
We prolong our regret, in not taking the opportunity to connect.


Now I'm not saying that you start manically hunting for all that you're avoiding, neither you or I would likely do that anyway. If you did, it can kick up your inner critic who's then going to lambast you for not having done this already or figured it out on your own without having to 'be told', or some other great story...

I suggest taking a moment and writing down one thing you're avoiding. Then apply the thinking that each avoidance is an opportunity to connect with someone, something, or some way you haven't considered yet.

You'll get the hang of it. Start with something small, and test it out. Share what you discover, we need all the support we can get!

If this message speaks to you, I invite you to book a time today to set up an exploratory conversation to explore your professional development through tailor made Coaching.

This link will open in a new window where you can choose a time that suits your schedule for us to speak about your business and develop a plan.