Learning from what we’re avoiding is perhaps the most powerful pathway for personal healing and deep self-activation.
That was the story I shared with you when we last spoke. As you’ll recall, in the wake of writing and self-publishing my first book (to a chorus of crickets, basically), the failure and the shame that I felt were enough for me to avoid my writing for months to come.
I tried to distance myself from the title of writer.
I even tried to erase my first book from my website and just pretend it never happened.
But my book publishing experience wasn’t the first or the last time that I’d learn a heck of a lot from my avoidance:
— When I was in the 9th grade, I was so out of shape entering pre-season soccer practice that I just about died running the mile. I was sore for a week. Ridiculed and embarrassed by my coaches, I quit soccer that year — and for the rest of my life. Ever since, I had dreaded running. I resented it, bemoaned my inability to run well, and denounced running as stupid. “I hate running,” I would often say.
That is, until I recognized I was avoiding running because of how it made me feel incapable, unworthy, and like a failure.
In 2011, I committed to confronting that avoidance and my long personal history of loathing it. I accomplished my furthest run ever (6 miles!) while training, and clocked an 8:45/mile in a Boston 9k road race while fundraising over $1,000 for military veterans.
— When I walked into my third ever yoga class, the room was so crowded that I turned around and walked out. But the teacher noticed me leaving. She convinced me to come back inside, even though I was walking down the street to my car. (Talk about embarrassing!) After the class, I questioned why I had up and left. Was it because the room was crowded? Or because I was avoiding asking people for help? And being seen by people, at all?
Suddenly, my avoidance displayed a glaring hypocrisy: how could I become an author and speaker, as I said I wanted, if I was so uncomfortable being seen or helped by people? I turned into the avoidance, committed to going back to yoga time and time again, and made myself set up in the front of the room.
(Years later, of course, I’m now a yoga teacher!)
After months, or sometimes years, of really terrible inner tension — what I now call avoidance — I have come to realize that whatever I was avoiding the most was precisely what I needed to embrace if I ever wanted to feel whole and authentic to myself again.
Avoidance is a precise and personal teacher like that.
It’s as if the nature of avoiding something implicitly means that we care; that what’s being avoided is necessarily meaningful; that there is a lot to learn from — and grow by way of — what we’re avoiding, and why we’re avoiding it at all.
When you face what you’re avoiding, you unlock a powerful potential to undo whatever insecurities, hesitations, or shadowy blockages have been holding you back from being your whole true self.
Maybe big, daunting questions like “What to choose?” or “Where to turn?” and “What’s next?” can be answered by looking into what we’re avoiding the most lately.
I believe that avoidance can show you the way. As it has shown me mine.
Meet My New Course: Unavoidable Writing
Ladies and gents, I’m really excited.
Because on December 21, 2017, I will proudly release my new writing course, Unavoidable Writing, in a semi-private beta launch exclusive to my readers and friends.
This is the synthesis of the last 5 years of helping writers do the creative work they love (or want to love), but struggle to fully embrace.
Unavoidable Writing is a yogic approach to self-expression: it pairs my personal creative philosophy with tried-and-true writing exercises and prompts, laid out in an intuitive system that harmonizes the human behind the writing — as well opening the door to more fluid, supportive writing on the page.
As I hope you would come to expect from me, this course is not about being something that you’re not. It’s about unearthing more of who you already are. What wisdom you already possess. And embracing the gentle art of written word — in a simple practice of occasional personal journaling — for self-support along your journey as you live it.
In this self-guided course, which is designed for you to complete in around 2 or 3 spacious weeks, you’ll learn:
- How to turn what you’re resisting the most into your refuge
- The ways in which avoidance manifests, and how avoidance relates to normal human needs and desires
- How to reject stereotypical self-help tropes and common writing advice that actually does more harm than good
- My 3-step process for turning creative roadblocks into your very writing curriculum
- An intuitive system for gently building your creative values and desires into the life you’re already living
Avoidance is a teacher because it reveals the subtle underbelly of what is actually at the cause of our creative angst.
And I believe it’s absolutely essential to know the source of your struggle if you really want to transcend it.
Like I did after my first book.
And with running.
And trying to escape that yoga class.
What can you learn from what you’re avoiding, friend?
I know I’ve learned a lot from my avoidance. I know, through years’ worth of travels and workshops and retreats and teachings, that eyeing your avoidance is a pathway into personal healing and transformation.
I ask you now to join me in this journey of self-knowledge through the gateway of what we’re avoiding.
If you haven’t already, subscribe to my newsletter here to make sure you don’t miss the forthcoming details on how you can be involved with Unavoidable Writing this December.
Big hugs and much love,
P.S. – In September, I committed to sharing all my income from yoga classes in October to different causes. Here’s the list of organizations to which I donated:
- The American Red Cross
- Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island
- RadioLab NYC Public Radio
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Catchafire.org (Ongoing)