LOST: How Providence Affects Jack’s Actions

[6:45:06 PM] Zac: no pink elephants
[6:45:30 PM] Erich: I would define greatness as character (being the same at home and work for ex.) and legacy (leaving the world better than you found it)
[6:45:52 PM] Zac: that’s largely as i see it as well.
[6:46:05 PM] Zac: my spirituality is shifting like crazy
[6:46:13 PM] Erich: Knowledge, Mind, and the Given
[6:46:31 PM] Zac: Where is that from?
[6:46:42 PM] Erich: http://books.google.com/books?id=PpI9qRXf57UC&pg=PA164&lpg=PA164&dq=%22no+pink+elephants%22&source=bl&ots=GQL5RcGgDu&sig=1W8KxPlvm6ysO68yzqZ7usp4yv8&hl=en&ei=omQDSse7K52ctgPpgsXjAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1#PPP1,M1
[6:46:56 PM] Erich: I did a google search for “no pink elephants” its the first hit or so
[6:47:09 PM] Zac: holy crap!
[6:47:17 PM] Zac: where do you think of this stuff?
[6:47:29 PM] Zac: it’s the whole book
[6:50:40 PM] Zac: the whole concept of good and evil challenges me
[6:51:00 PM] Zac: like darkness is not the opposite of light, but the absence of it
[6:51:15 PM] Zac: is evil the absence of goodness?
[6:51:25 PM] Zac: is “satan” the absence of God?
[6:51:48 PM] Zac: maybe we should blog about this
[6:52:02 PM] Erich: yeah, and after watching LOST with the whole time travel thing, it makes me think about the sunday school teachers who used to tell me, every new sin you commit hurts Jesus more in the past when he had to take on all of your sin at the cross – by reducing sin NOW you can reduce His sin THEN – like time travel backwards
[6:52:34 PM] Zac: LOST was so crazy good last night
[6:52:38 PM] Erich: like there is no such thing as cold, just absence of heat
[6:52:39 PM] Zac: i love Jack’s evolution
[6:52:44 PM] Zac: exactly
[6:53:04 PM] Zac: how can their be providence from God and providence from Satan?
[6:53:21 PM] Zac: or is satan’s work just a lack of providence running its course?
[6:53:46 PM] Erich: I’ve started to not like Jack this season, but last night was the first night he seemed to be an actual player this season – second from the last show no less – well I take that back – in the beginning when he was getting people to come, that was okay, I just didn’t like him on the island at the beginning – he had a bad attitude
[6:54:18 PM] Erich: I think Satan wanted to do his own thing, so he does things, they are just not Godly
[6:54:20 PM] Zac: yeah, he was resigned to fate, and didn’t “manage his actions”
[6:54:25 PM] Erich: haha, yeah
[6:54:32 PM] Zac: i feel a post coming on
[6:55:01 PM] Erich: satan is like the guy who didn’t want to work for the boss any more and wanted to go off on his own, but there was no non-compete agreement signed, just banishment
[6:55:30 PM] Zac: how should we go about it?
[6:55:49 PM] Erich: defining a post?
[6:56:21 PM] Zac: no, the mission statment
[6:56:23 PM] Zac: or vision
[6:56:31 PM] Zac: what do we value
[6:56:33 PM] Zac: ?
[6:56:37 PM] Zac: changing lives?
[6:56:46 PM] Zac: being a source of information?
[6:56:54 PM] Erich: oh, well…
[6:57:07 PM] Zac: creating dialoge?
[6:57:12 PM] Erich: what I do at work when I have to define mission statements is I do a kind of keyword query
[6:57:34 PM] Erich: then I form sentences or a sentence from the keywords
[6:58:09 PM] Erich: so if we had one of those keyword maps or word counters on our blog, what would it say, or more importantly, what would we want it to say
[6:58:28 PM] Zac: right
[6:58:49 PM] Zac: growth
[6:59:03 PM] Erich: life
[6:59:07 PM] Erich: managing
[6:59:10 PM] Erich: actions
[6:59:11 PM] Zac: self awareness
[6:59:46 PM] Erich: purpose
[6:59:58 PM] Erich: faith
[6:59:59 PM] Erich: love
[7:00:15 PM] Zac: should we mention how movies, literature, and music affect us?
[7:00:18 PM] Zac: culture?
[7:00:19 PM] Erich: tired sleep sleepy awake
[7:00:22 PM] Zac: pop culture?
[7:00:34 PM] Erich: thought subconcious concious
[7:00:43 PM] Zac: love that
[7:01:07 PM] Erich: yes, we we are influenced heavily by Goonies, LOST, the Matrix
[7:01:22 PM] Erich: timing is a big one too
[7:01:34 PM] Erich: but not sure how that fits in with our mission
[7:01:50 PM] Erich: time
[7:01:57 PM] Erich: legacy
[7:02:06 PM] Erich: desire
[7:02:23 PM] Erich: growth
[7:02:25 PM] Erich: roi
[7:02:36 PM] Zac: we exist to discuss the relationship between our thoughts and actions, and how by managing them we can enjoy lives filled with purpose, growth, love, and legacy.
[7:02:42 PM] Erich: attitude
[7:02:56 PM] Zac: tweak away
[7:03:07 PM] Erich: okay, I’m going to hack on the verbs first
[7:03:19 PM] Zac: please do
[7:03:41 PM] Erich: I like to drop off the first three words at the begining too while planning.  they are always just filler.
[7:03:54 PM] Zac: ok
[7:04:16 PM] Zac: what do you think about “discuss”?
[7:04:33 PM] Erich: that’s what I’m hacking off , sorry
[7:04:43 PM] Erich: I’m thinking of replacing it with “making”
[7:04:58 PM] Erich: or finding
[7:04:59 PM] Zac: ok, keep going
[7:05:04 PM] Zac: seeking?
[7:05:07 PM] Erich: yes
[7:05:17 PM] Erich: seeking sounds more philosophical so lets use that for now
[7:05:23 PM] Zac: like it
[7:06:43 PM] Erich: …seeking to define the relationship between our thoughts and our actions to learn and share how managing this relationship can allow us to live a great life.
[7:07:05 PM] Zac: oddly, my only beef would be with “great life”
[7:07:14 PM] Erich: yeah, that was my filler line
[7:07:18 PM] Erich: I didn’t know how to close it
[7:07:29 PM] Zac: can we find a similar word for relationship the second time around?
[7:07:36 PM] Erich: yeah, you’re righ
[7:07:44 PM] Erich: hmm…connection?
[7:07:49 PM] Zac: amalgamation sounds so pretentious
[7:07:52 PM] Erich: partnership?
[7:08:04 PM] Erich: don’t know what that word amalgamous is
[7:08:19 PM] Zac: exactly, neither do i really
[7:08:28 PM] Zac: it’s just to make myself feel good
[7:09:06 PM] Erich: I think it means a random allotment of stuff thats placed in a lot together, but that is what google is for, our exteriour brain
[7:09:14 PM] Zac: yeah, partnership seems like it should apply to people more than….
[7:09:37 PM] Erich: …seeking to define the relationship between our thoughts and our actions to learn and share how managing this relationship can allow us to live a great life.
[7:09:41 PM] Zac: are you looking up synonms?
[7:09:59 PM] Erich: no, but try the visual synonm generator
[7:10:16 PM] Erich: http://www.visualthesaurus.com/
[7:10:51 PM] Zac: alliance?
[7:10:54 PM] Erich: state
[7:11:16 PM] Erich: connectedness
[7:11:26 PM] Zac: like that
[7:11:29 PM] Zac: link?
[7:11:38 PM] Erich: to what
[7:11:43 PM] Zac: a zelda reference
[7:11:47 PM] Zac: and encino man
[7:11:57 PM] Erich: oh
[7:12:01 PM] Zac: …seeking to define the relationship between our thoughts and our actions to learn and share how managing this link can allow us to live a great life.
[7:12:02 PM] Erich: legend of zelda link
[7:12:11 PM] Erich: I see, sory, forgot what we were talking about
[7:12:17 PM] Erich: yeah, duh, link, good one.
[7:12:30 PM] Zac: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gokttuXJME&feature=channel_page
[7:13:00 PM] Zac: they are great.
[7:13:06 PM] Zac: 2 and ahalf minutes
[7:13:11 PM] Erich: I guess we do then
[7:13:12 PM] Zac: have you seen that one?
[7:13:22 PM] Erich: no, not this one, but that satan guy is hilarious!
[7:13:27 PM] Zac: he really is
[7:13:31 PM] Zac: i want him as a friend
[7:13:47 PM] Erich: he does seem like he’d be a good friend, you’re right
[7:14:26 PM] Zac: ok, i’m liking our statement so far
[7:14:30 PM] Erich: “definitely for it” its hilarious that he thanks God for it
[7:14:57 PM] Zac: let me find another one
[7:15:03 PM] Erich: okay
[7:16:06 PM] Zac: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDqRheBu2cg
[7:17:40 PM] Erich: so, what is it now, …seeking to define the relationship between our thoughts and our actions to learn and share how managing this link can allow us to live a great life.
[7:17:58 PM] Zac: how about “fulfilling life”?
[7:18:20 PM] Erich: hmm, how about some of those adjectives we used before instead
[7:18:34 PM] Erich: how we defined life – character, legacy
[7:18:53 PM] Zac: life of character?
[7:19:05 PM] Zac: life worthy of a legacy
[7:19:10 PM] Erich: …allow us to live a life of character.
[7:19:19 PM] Zac: yep
[7:19:19 PM] Erich: it seems like we can’t use both though.
[7:19:37 PM] Zac: now, the begninning
[7:19:58 PM] Erich: …allow us to leave a legacy by living a life of character.
[7:20:20 PM] Zac: now, that’s some poetry erich!
[7:21:35 PM] Erich: thanks, but its almost too powerful – it overwhelms the initial purpose of the mission statement in the begining – but maybe not
[7:22:02 PM] Erich: unless you view it like the five w’s, who what when where why how
[7:22:14 PM] Zac: put it all together
[7:22:17 PM] Erich: who: we are…
[7:22:19 PM] Zac: what have we got?
[7:22:34 PM] Erich: what: seeking to define the relationship between our thoughs and our actions
[7:23:10 PM] Erich: why: to learn and share how
[7:23:35 PM] Erich: how: managing this link
[7:23:58 PM] Erich: where: in our lives.
[7:24:40 PM] Zac: i’m pretty happy with that, although it doesn’t necessarily touch on God or providence
[7:24:42 PM] Erich: …seeking to define the relationship between our thoughts and our actions to learn and share how managing this link can allow us to live a great life allow us to live a life of character.
[7:24:59 PM] Zac: do we want that?
[7:25:13 PM] Erich: …seeking to define the relationship between our thoughts and our actions to learn and share how managing this link can allow us to live a life of character.
[7:25:15 PM] Zac: …seeking to define the relationship between our thoughts and our actions to learn and share how managing this link can allow us to live a life of character.
[7:25:20 PM] Zac: jinx
[7:25:21 PM] Erich: sorry, messedup the first time
[7:25:25 PM] Erich: haha
[7:25:33 PM] Erich: chat jinx, not sure if that counts
[7:25:39 PM] Erich: all though its got to count for something
[7:25:45 PM] Zac: what do you think about providence?
[7:25:49 PM] Zac: or God?
[7:25:55 PM] Zac: or the unexplainable?
[7:25:55 PM] Erich: pre determination
[7:26:03 PM] Erich: I think God exists because he does stuff
[7:26:18 PM] Zac: i mean, in our statement
[7:26:39 PM] Erich: when you believe he does stuff, but I guess a disbeliever would say, “you’re attributing things to God when you have previously asked God for these things”
[7:26:45 PM] Erich: oh
[7:27:02 PM] Zac: would a post about jack’s transformation be about his response to destiny “proving” itself?
[7:27:08 PM] Erich: I’m not sure how providence would fit in the mission statement
[7:27:18 PM] Zac: or would it just be about his thoughts and his new behaviours that have sprung from that?
[7:27:27 PM] Zac: i think i may have just answered my own question
[7:27:40 PM] Zac: if it affects our thoughts and/or actions, it is relevent
[7:27:44 PM] Zac: we are pretty golden there
[7:27:51 PM] Zac: like bea arthur
[7:27:54 PM] Zac: rip
[7:28:13 PM] Erich: well from the beginning the show has been a mirror, 180 days on the island, halway through the season, light, dark, ying yang, jack on one side, locke on the other
[7:28:35 PM] Erich: jack is more like locke now and locke is more like jack now in the second half
[7:29:01 PM] Zac: i know.  lock is the “leader” and jack is the “believer”
[7:29:09 PM] Zac: it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing
[7:29:24 PM] Zac: i am so impressed that a show of this quality exists
[7:29:33 PM] Zac: that could be a weekly feature for the next season
[7:29:39 PM] Erich: huh, I didn’t notice that, you’re right though.  I wonder who Jacob is.  Jacob might be a kind of metaphor for God in this conversation
[7:29:44 PM] Zac: you and i remarking on our thoughts of an episode
[7:29:57 PM] Zac: he is either God or the pope
[7:29:59 PM] Zac: i think
[7:30:12 PM] Erich: the scientist wants to kill “God” the one who unanswered things get thought by
[7:31:48 PM] Zac: looking forward seems to be the best medicine, but wisdom comes frorm not making the same mistakes twice
[7:32:00 PM] Zac: i think that i’m going to tweet that
[7:32:20 PM] Erich: yeah, you done good with that tweet, son
[7:36:03 PM] Zac: i’m so very much like john locke (first few seasons).  signs of the right path.  the island talking to him
[7:36:45 PM] Erich: Who or what is “the island” to you? <–sounds like a blog post title
[7:37:16 PM] Erich: and Locke has crazy woman troubles, not sure how that relates
[7:37:18 PM] Zac: providence/God
[7:37:28 PM] Zac: very true
[7:37:34 PM] Zac: jack as well
[7:37:37 PM] Zac: and sawyer
[7:37:46 PM] Zac: and charlie
[7:37:47 PM] Erich: that’s true too, they all have woman troubles and daddy issues
[7:38:01 PM] Zac: i vascilate between jack and locke a lot
[7:38:05 PM] Zac: also desmond and charlie
[7:38:14 PM] Zac: who do you relate to?
[7:38:28 PM] Erich: hurley’s dad, the chinese dude’s dad, jack’s dad, locke’s dad, kate’s dad
[7:38:50 PM] Erich: who do I relate too? hurley kind of – laid back
[7:39:21 PM] Zac: hurley is like the everyman
[7:39:21 PM] Erich: I wish I was as cool as sawyer – Jack’s kind of a nerd – he wasn’t in season 1, but he is kind of now to me – not sure why
[7:39:25 PM] Zac: like the audience
[7:39:32 PM] Erich: yeah, you’re exactly right
[7:39:50 PM] Zac: jack just got thrown out of wack and is trying to find something to hold onto
[7:40:01 PM] Erich: that was hilarious last night when he said, “Okay, we’re from the future” since he didn’t know the president. I was cracking up, dude.
[7:40:15 PM] Zac: man, we need to have a lost post fest
[7:40:47 PM] Zac: ok, is our mission statement 99% done?
[7:40:48 PM] Erich: yeah, Jack likes to fix things – for a while, the providence made fixing impossible…but now…providence has lead him to be ABLE to fix something
[7:41:01 PM] Zac: that is a great thought!
[7:41:13 PM] Zac: I would love to read more of your thoughts on this.
[7:41:16 PM] Erich: yeah, that one was for free
[7:41:53 PM] Erich: hahaha, I figured you’re going to write at least one post on Jack and the role of providence in his life, how it affects his actions.
[7:42:27 PM] Erich: Or we could just copy this thread and post it.  It’s our blog, we can do what we want with it.
[7:42:27 PM] Zac: i think that sounds perfect.  it can be a recurring theme in our blog
[7:42:37 PM] Zac: hmmm
[7:43:21 PM] Zac: yeah, do you want to edit it down and we can put it up now, with a tease for more lost related thoughts to come?
[7:44:06 PM] Erich: Definitely a theme though.  Our primary keyword is “actions”.  How does roadblocks affect our actions – what do we do when things get in the way of our goals. How does providence affect our actions – if everything is predetermined, then why does anything matter? just two examples there.
[7:44:19 PM] Erich: Yeah, I can post it sure.

Top 10 Ways to Live a Purpose-Filled Life

[Edit: I wrote this post before I heard about Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. Shortly afterward I found out about it and so I wanted to share a link to his book here. I’ve been listening to it on CD in the car. It’s a great book and it may change your life. 09/13/2009]

1. Don’t Assume

I wasn’t being very purposeful when I went to open a door that didn’t budge and ran right into it or when I went to push a shovel down into the ground and hurt my foot when it hit a rock. In both cases I was assuming the door and the shovel would act as they always had. The door would open with little effort and the shovel would slide neatly into the earth. It made me wonder, “What else am I assuming about my life?” This leads us to number 2.

2. Ask Why

Ask yourself why you’re doing the things you are doing. Why do you live where you live and work where you work? Why are you friends with your friends? There may be good reason, but there may also not be. If you haven’t asked yourself “Why,” before, start asking and start living a purpose-filled life. There should be a reason for everything you do. This leads us to number 3.

3. Give Reasons

What is the reason you are doing what you are doing? This is different then asking yourself, “Why.” For example, if you answered the question above about why you live where you live, the answer may have been, “Because it’s near where I work, there are good schools here, and it’s where I’ve always lived.” Those are all reasons, which then need analyzed, kind of like playing the 5 Why’s Game. If you’ve never played it, its simply the act of asking yourself, “Why,” four more times after the initial first, “Why.” In this way, you can find out the reason you are doing things. Lets use the response to the question as the first answer in the 5 Why’s Game.

  1. Why do you live where you live? Because it’s near where I work, there are good schools here, and it’s where I’ve always lived.
  2. Why? I don’t like a long commute, I have kids, and my family is here.
  3. Why? I have never had to drive very far to work, because I wanted them, because that is where they moved to.
  4. Why? I have never looked for jobs farther away, because my parents had them, because they found a better job here.
  5. Why? Because I’m comfortable with the job I have, because their parents had them, because this place used to be growing.

The game doesn’t have to have three threads in it like this one did, but it gives us a glimpse into how you might then ask yourself a new question, “My relatives left their relatives and came here when this place was growing. Is there any value in staying or should I keep looking outside of where I am comfortable for my children’s sake?” This is the kind of dialogue that knowing the reasons behind something can generate.

4. Take Ownership

Have someone or something to tie you to this earth. This is a reason for your being. For some it is a job. For others it is their children or partner. It could be all of these things, but if you don’t have anything to build, fix, keep, protect, or improve, then you will find yourself drifting far from living a purpose-filled life. Have you ever left a job or wanted to leave your job because you felt like you weren’t needed or because you had no stake in the outcome of the business? Either you didn’t take ownership or you were not allowed to take ownership and so you withered or are withering.

5. Exact Standards

Set thresholds to avoid slippery slopes and compromises that you might make along the way. If you decide that you want to live a certain way, and you start to slip away from that life, what are the consequences of that? Draw a line in the sand and declare in writing what you stand for. Create a mission statement if you have to. This can guide your life just as it guides businesses everyday.

6. Create Procedures

A purposeful life is predictable, but has the ability to change. You may expect one thing, but if it doesn’t happen, you implement the contingency plan. You know the procedure because you created it. You are prepared. This is the difference between assuming and predicting. Predictions contain contingencies whereas assuming does not. If I go to open a door by pushing on it and assume it will open, but it doesn’t – I may hurt myself when I run into it. If I go to open a door expecting it to open, but with the contingency that it might not, I will be prepared for it not opening and be able to protect myself.

7. Have Faith

Believe in something greater than yourself. The universe is too big, never mind the relative enormity of the Earth, for our brains to live purposefully if we truly believe that there is no more to this life than what we can see and feel with our own eyes and ears. Your spirit, whether you believe you have one or not, will be crushed over time.

8. Love Some

Love someone or something. Be passionate. This is like ownership, but you can’t own another human being or the acts like gardening, playing in a band, or eating chocolate. Nothing drives the human spirit like the power of love. It is cliché to say, but true nonetheless.

9. Leave Behind

Live your life so as to leave something behind. In 100 years will anyone know you had ever existed? Some people write books. Some people’s legacy is their children. This is a matter of faith and procedure as you will not know what lies ahead after you are gone, but you are preparing for it. Pass on knowledge, help the downtrodden, pay it forward. These are the things that lead to a purpose-filled life.

10. Be Purposeful

Be intentional, exacting, reasonable, or whatever words you can think of that relate to being purposeful. If you want your life to have a purpose, if you want to leave a legacy, if you want to love more, learn more, and live more, be purposeful in all that you do. Live a purpose-filled life.

Creative Avoidance

This is a guest post by Zac Parsons. Enjoy. – Erich

“Ah yes, its Monday.  I have to be focused and productive again.”

“Now that the weekend is over, I have to go back to work.”

“I have to get up early today, or else I will get fired.”

Look at all of the things that we HAVE to do in life.  Really, look at them in your own life.  Write them down if you would like.  How long is your list?  Now, in a certain sense, what you HAVE to do, depends on what the consequence is.  It also depends on what you are relating the action in question to.  In this case, I asked about life.  So your answers should have something to do with eating, breathing, sleeping, etc.  In order to stay alive (to avoid the consequence of death), you HAVE to do these things.  All other “have to’s” in our lives work the same way.  You just need to discover what the consequence is.  The “or else”.

“Want To”

The alternative to a “have to” is a “want to”.  Instead of looking at the consequence, you look at the positive result of the action in question.  You are drawn to this result, and you WANT to obtain it or achieve it.  It’s not something you are running from, it’s something that you are running to.  The difference may seem subtle, but it is HUGE!

To do anything, we need energy.  This is why we eat, breathe, sleep, etc., so that we can build up energy to interact with the world around us.  If everyone in the world was running from what consequences they want to avoid, the world would be chaos.  If everyone was drawn to something and there were no consequences to flee, we would have peace on earth or heaven on earth.  Some people believe that this is how the world will end, in one of those two fashions.  In the meantime, how would you like to live your life?

Subconscious Thought

Our minds work in much the same way.  If we feel like we HAVE to do some sort of task, our minds will come up with all sorts of creative ways to avoid doing the task.  This has been called “creative avoidance”.  We can fill our day with all sorts of tasks and actions that are basically “good” and “productive”, but they keep us from our HAVE to task, so that is where we really subconsciously value them.  Our mind is protecting us from it, since it is associated with the negative consequence of not doing it.  When we understand the positive value of what will be gained from the task, then we WANT to do it!

A Personal Example

This exact thing happened to me today!  I woke up and sat down at my computer to start the work day.  I knew that I had to write an article today, so why not start early?  Well, I noticed that I had some emails in my inbox.  Those have to be looked at eventually, right?  So I sidetracked myself on that.  I had a stack of CDs next to me that were not in my iTunes library.  That will help unclutter my desk, and that’s a good thing, right?  So I spent 30 minutes doing that.  My running shoes are right next to me, I think that I will go out and get some exercise for my body and help to relax my mind!  So I even went off to do that.

My mind can be a genius at getting me out of things.  That’s why I procrastinated with tests and homework all through school.  I allowed myself to be motivated by the negative result, and not by the positive of the completed task.  So, when I locked on to the value of writing my article, I realized that I WANTED to do it.  I saw the value in the completed product.  The words just started flowing.  And what a great feeling that is.

Creative Avoidance Can be Helpful

For a healthy psyche and the accomplishment of your life’s purpose, creative avoidance can be helpful. Jesus said to turn the other cheek when you’re angry, but that is not the avoidance I am talking about today. In Psychology, avoidance means the passive act of not doing something that is good for you and using or doing something else instead that is harmful, or that hinders your personal growth and healing. Procrastination is a first cousin to avoidance, though usually of shorter duration, and with an end result of ultimately doing what is good for you after some delay.

When It’s Dysfunctional to Avoid

Take Jamie for example.  She is hypersensitive to disapproval and rejection, she fears the possibility of being shamed or ridiculed, and these feelings lead to limited interactions with her peers. Jamie”s social avoidance stems from feeling deeply inadequate. As a result, she finds it difficult to have easily satisfying interpersonal relationships. Avoidance in this sense is highly detrimental not only to her personal success, but also to a good quality of life.  If you’ve got to the point where you are avoiding paying your  bills because doing so triggers irrational feelings of scarcity and insecurity then the avoidance may be dysfunctional.

garth-brooksDysfunctional avoidance are activities that harm or hinder clear understanding and longevity in relationships, feeling good about oneself, and having normal effectiveness in the world. These types of thought, feeling, and behavioral avoidance actions are patterns that can create enormous stress, anxiety, and depression. These patterns can be detected in the self-judging, self-blaming remarks we make about ourselves, and in some of the false beliefs we have about what we can’t do.  Be very careful about the way you talk to yourself.  Learning to manage your thoughts will help you manage your actions.

Dysfunctional avoidance is sometimes a faulty coping mechanism that kicks into gear, often without conscious intent. The more they travel that unconscious path, the deeper the “habit ruts” in their brains become. Once in this rut, it’s easier to get stuck in the negative “I can’t” frame of mind, which is often self-fulfilling.

Dysfunctional avoidance is often fueled by patterns of unconscious denial of actual realities. If you find yourself creatively avoiding something, regardless of your motive or intent, ask yourself if what you are doing is justified or for a greater good.  If the results of what you are doing harms yourself or others, think twice about doing it.  One of the biggest avoidances is conflict, but as Garth Brooks said, “The greatest conflicts are not between two people but between one person and himself.”

Creative Avoidance Can Be Useful

Not all avoidance is bad. Sometimes it can be good so long as the timing and time spent allows us to evaluate our circumstances, brainstorm, and/or review technological changes like we wrote about in Determining Your Purpose in Life or Process.

Sometimes creative avoidances can not only be justified, but altogether useful.  For example, avoiding an assignment by taking a walk can be good for your health. And doing chores that need done anyway before doing the the thing in which you are trying to avoid can be good as long as the chores actually needed to get done and you don’t spend your entire allotted time doing them.

Usually, creative avoidance involves choosing one activity over another that might be deemed worthy by an outside party, such as joining the military, but inside you know that the real reason you joined was because you had just broken up with someone and you wanted to get away.  You will still benefit from the military, regardless of the motive.

But, sometimes creative avoidance involves a guilty pleasure in the act of choosing. For example, Jake goes out dancing to avoid doing his homework, and then is unable to complete his homework the next day because he is hungover. We might question if that avoidance choice was creative or dysfunctional, in other words, what was the intent or motive?

How to Know the Difference Between Creative and Dysfunctional Avoidance

To help determine if you or someone else is using avoidance creatively or dysfunctionally, ask the following questions:

  1. Is the activity freeing or binding? – Does this activity allow you to avoid something you don’t like?
  2. Is the activity beneficial or empowering? – Does this activity produce anything that will help you or anyone else?

Answering the question restates the avoidance, which helps us be aware of what motivates our actions.  In this way we can better manage our actions. An en example of a restatement is:

I’m choosing to do this instead of that right now, so that I can return to that when I’m ready with clarity, courage, and a fresh set of eyes.

It is possible to change our thought process in order to change our actions. We can stop dysfunctional avoidance completely if we pay attention to what is real and less of our intuition. If it helps you, start a journal recording when you begin to think of something to do instead of what you’re “supposed” to be doing – and your motivations for doing so or reasons why you didn’t give in.

Creative avoidance can be an adventure, but it can also cost you valuable time and energy. Learning to manage our thoughts and actions helps us see the patterns we can develop in our lives, which gives us the tools and ability to change.