If you want to read the first part of this musing, you can find it here. 

In part one, I suggested that slowing down (internally and externally) can help us accomplish important actions we either dislike or are avoiding. But before we can talk about “slowing our way” into distasteful activities, it’s important to identify our particular strategies of avoidance. Once we know our strategies, we can more easily identify when we need to slow down.

The question for today then is this: How do we behave when we’re avoiding activities we know are important but don’t want to do? Well I can’t answer that for you. But I can give you a few favorite strategies I employ as I approach a dreaded activity with that anxious or revved up feeling I talked about in part one.

Delay. I think of the dreaded activity several days in a row and put it off each time. I support my choice to delay with a few well crafted excuses. Usually my excuses highlight not only how awful this activity is, but how unfair it is that I am burdened with such tremendously difficult chores. Mind you these activities may take less than 20 minutes to accomplish, and may be relatively easy to complete. I just don’t like them. Because many of my dreaded activities aren’t hard to achieve, my second strategy of avoidance is very important.

Catastrophizing. Each time I think of the activity, I rehearse how hard it will be to do it.  Soon, the task has achieved an “epic status” in my mind. Surely such a monumental action requires that I wait (strategy one) to accomplish it at a more optimal moment.

Soothing: The feelings of dread (about the undesirable task) lead me to look for some way to soothe myself into a more comfortable place. I mean can you blame me. The dreaded activity has, by this point, ruined my day and I’m looking for some relief (strategy two). I usually soothe myself by choosing to do something “easy” and “desirable” –something that doesn’t require much of me. Reading the news. Checking email every 2 minutes. Standing up to stretch. Flitting from one project to another. Getting a drink.  These are a few of my favorite things.

These three strategies are not just strategies. They are clues that it’s time to slow down and face the dragon (couldn’t help but throw in a little strategy two there).

Once we know it’s time to slay the dragon, we can then use “slowing our way into the activity” as a strategy to accomplish it.  But writing this next part on “slowing our way in” may be difficult and cause me enormous pain. So, I’ll save it for part 3. I need to stand up and stretch anyway.