The Heavy Price of Avoidance
We live in a world where “achieving” is paramount. We are encouraged to be the best, forge ahead and produce results to apparently prove our success and worth to the world and to ourselves.
But how much do we really buy into that philosophy? Are our goals and drive to achieve helping or hindering our wellbeing?
While satisfaction and contentment about where and who you are in life are not bad things, our perception of past success or failures can keep us coasting or avoiding setting new goals, aspirations, and new experiences that life has to offer. We can often find ourselves observing life instead of participating in it. When this translates into chronic indifference or apathy it can be a symptom of not truly knowing yourself and avoiding personal growth.
The Heavy Price of Avoidance
Regardless of whether we reach our goal or not, our effort along our way also influences our opinion of ourselves. Indifference and apathy tend to have deep seeded roots in shame, regret and perhaps even self-loathing. Though avoidance can provide short term and temporary relief of anxiety, fear and insecurity, our momentum can decrease and result in stagnation. Long term, this only amplifies insecurity and shame from avoiding facing our fears. Our self-confidence can be negatively impacted as our list of fears compounds, eroding our very inner resources needed to create “breakthrough” and move forward.
Perhaps the ultimate price of avoidance is the lost purpose, passion, excitement and confidence that naturally enhances when we face our fears and grow past that familiar “comfort zone”. The longer this cycle continues, the longer and more stuck we get. Without healthy goals we merely exist, poised well for an intellectual, spiritual or emotional identity crisis.
Setting and Fueling Healthy Goals
Based on personality types and past experiences, it’s common for people to gravitate towards just envisioning a goal (with little planning or follow through) OR just taking action (with little mindful thought or inspiration). But goals are not only about action/doing/follow through, nor are they just about non-action/being/envisioning. Each of phases has its own important part in the larger goal process. The trick is to align our inner world (non action/being) and outer world (action/doing) and integrate the two in order to create alignment and congruence. This is this yin and yang, the past, represent and future intersection that foster harmony and balance in our well being and goals alike.
Fuel for goals can arise through both inspiration and discomfort, through firsthand experience or observation, through preference or necessity. It’s critical to first determine if the goal will help or hinder your wellbeing. Be honest about if the goal is in alignment with your higher self (love, compassion, clarity, balance) or your lower self (fear, lack, anxiety, control) The energy that fuels a goal will be compounded in the results! So how do we identify when our life is being guided by our higher or lower self and what can we do about it?
Our lower, less mature, less conscious self avoids growth, risk, vulnerability or even responsibility for our life. Sometimes called the “ego”, it tends to emphasize and be guided by fear and anxiety. It sees the cup half empty and is hyper alert to any possibility of self-exposure or failure. If it pursues a goal at all, it has a clever way of only perusing empty, ego based goals — attachments or addictions — that convince us we’ll be happy if we have the “next thing” in life. The lower self tends to justify being a victim or a persecutor, better than or less than and sees constructive feedback as painful and is to be avoided.
The higher, mature and conscious minded self seeks healthy growth. It is open and adaptable, inspired, love based and does not aim to control or oppress and nor does it relinquish its own accountability. It has a sense of integrity and considers the needs of self and others in balance. It focuses on evolution of self and possesses a healthy balance of “commitment and non attachment” maintaining the responsibility of happiness as our own choice, regardless of circumstance. The higher self is not dependent upon external things, situations or people (which are all out of our own control). It sees constructive feedback as a means to improve and grow.
Focus on Growth
As much as achieving a goal may improve our confidence, the journey of being on the path and moving forward with authentic intention can be every bit as meaningful. If personal growth is the goal for many, achievement of the goal becomes the icing that finishes off the cake. Cultivating our own inner skills alongside our outer results and aligning our motives with our highest self will always produce a fruitful process.
So, the question remains: do goals help or hinder our wellbeing? Is the risk of facing our fears while pursuing a goal worth the reward OR does the consequence of having no goals present the better option? If you have a view or story, we want to hear it!