We don’t like to admit it, but most aversions drive most of our decisions. We spend more time trying to avoid certain things than we do trying to achieve things. Consider just a few examples that represent most people:
- We’re more averse to exercise than we are driven to be fit and healthy.
- We’re more averse to healthy food than we are driven to eat in a healthy manner.
- We’re more averse to embarrassment than we are to meeting an attractive stranger.
Aversions aren’t all bad. It’s okay to being averse to falling off a cliff, eating unhealthy food, or using illegal drugs.
Some seemingly benign aversions can make life more challenging. Imagine you were averse to traffic, people that are overweight, and bad weather. You come across these things every day. When you have aversions, you create more opportunities to be unhappy, and fewer opportunities to be happy. You can change, though!
Ideally, you’d have very few aversions, and those aversions would be meaningful!
Try this process to get a handle on your aversions:
- Make a list of your aversions. Consider all the various facets of your life. What aversions do you have when it comes to work, potential friends, potential dating partners, or life in general? Think of the situations that frustrate you. Perhaps you have an aversion to waiting in line at the store.
- Recognize how much impact your aversions have on you. There are plenty of little annoyances that don’t destroy your life, but they do make it less enjoyable. You have bigger aversions that dramatically restrict your life.
- Protecting yourself from embarrassment has huge social, self-esteem, and professional implications.
- An aversion to rejection makes relationships more challenging and less comfortable.
- An aversion to responsibility or public speaking restricts your professional opportunities.
- An aversion to authority can cause challenges at work.
- An aversion to strangers ensures that you won’t meet many new people.
- What are the big aversions in your life that influence your decisions?
- Imagine your aversion vividly. Feel the discomfort that it creates in your body. Your natural reaction is to run away from it. Change things up and stick with the thought and the discomfort. Relax and notice how the feeling changes. It becomes more subdued. With practice, you won’t feel anything at all. Keep at it.
- Notice the changes in your life. You still might not enjoy vegetables, but you can eat them without making a mental fuss about it. The annoying people in your life are still annoying, but you can deal with them without upset. You can sit in traffic and maintain a positive attitude.
- Be on the lookout for new aversions. As you have negative experiences, it’s natural to develop new aversions. Dealing with your current aversions is good practice for the future.
- Anytime you have a strong dislike of something, or find something frustrating, it’s likely that you have an aversion. Keep your eyes open and deal with any new aversions appropriately.
It can be challenging to address your aversions. You might define yourself by your aversions. If you think of yourself as an extremely reliable person, it might be challenging to be tolerant of tardiness and unreliability in others. Understand how your aversions impact your ability to be happy and to succeed.
We’re driven more by our aversions than we are by the things we desire. It’s not a very effective way of dealing with the world. There are plenty of ineffective coping strategies that you may use to avoid the things you don’t like. However, the avoidance of pain isn’t a reliable path to success.
For your best results, always be moving toward something you want, instead of away from something else!