Avoiding Things Doesn't Work. Time to Try the "Face Everything" Technique

I am very good at avoiding things.

When I don't want to deal with relationship issues, I throw myself into work. When I don't want to deal with an issue at work, I suddenly have to learn how to knit. When I get bored with knitting, I decide that's the right time to start exercising.

And so on, and so on.

Odds are you're avoiding something right now, but instead of facing it you're reading about how to face it.

Oh the irony.

Avoidance and distraction don't work. They might offer temporary relief from your troubles, but those troubles don't disappear. The only way to really deal with our issues is to face them head on.

Leo Babuta of Zen Habits thinks the "Face Everything" technique can help.

"This technique is based on the idea that it’s better to be aware of things, and to deal with them like an adult, instead of running," Babuta explains. "And if we do, none of it’s that big of a deal.

Here’s how it works:

1. Ask yourself, “What am I doing right now?”

The idea is to bring awareness to your actions. So, throughout the day set reminders to ask yourself, “What am I doing right now?”

"The answer might be, 'Checking Facebook,' or 'Switching to a new browser tab,' or 'Eating some chips'," Babuta explains. "Something simple and mundane like that, but just ask yourself what you’re doing, to start to bring awareness."

2. Ask yourself, “What am I avoiding?”

Once you are aware of what you are doing, ask yourself what you're avoiding. It could be something you're afraid of, something uncomfortable, or maybe even just being present, but it's important to be able to label it.

"When things get difficult or uncomfortable, we automatically switch to something else," says Babuta. "We run. We avoid, like crazy. You’re doing it all day long, but not realizing it."

3. Face it.

Easier said than done, right?

Well, it really isn't. If you can commit to challenging yourself to stay in the fear or discomfort, you'll be the better for it and Babuta says in most cases you'll find it's not that big of a deal.

4. Act.

"Now that you’ve faced it and have seen that it’s not such a big deal, you can act like an adult rather than a little child: You can decide what the best action is right now," Babuta writes.

"If you’re afraid of doing some task, but you’ve faced it and seen that the fear is not such a big deal, you can remind yourself that the task will benefit you and others, and is much more important than your little fear."

No, this technique will not work with all problems. But Babuta posits that the more you practice this method, the better you'll get at dealing with discomfort—and this will spread to other aspects and bigger problems in your life.

Babuta ends his article by saying, "You might have the urge to dismiss this article, to avoid practicing this technique. That too is avoidance, and I urge you to face it this moment."

Damn, how did he know?