Fueling stressful stories is a form of avoidance

Fueling stressful stories is a form of avoidance.

Often, we think of avoidance as distraction, compulsion, overthinking, blame, guilt, going into ideologies, and so on.

And yet, avoidance can also be fueling scary and stressful stories. We make them more catastrophic and make them seem more real to ourselves. And that helps us avoid actually looking at it.

It helps us avoid looking closely at the scary stories and find what’s more true for us. (Which is usually more peaceful, at the very least because it’s more aligned with reality and we know it.) And it helps us avoid feeling the sensations of the fear in the body, rest with them, and allow them as they are.

Examining the stories and resting with the sensations is how these stressful stories can resolve. By avoiding them through fueling them, they tend to stay and perhaps be reinforced. And by meeting them and examining them, they can relax and our relationship with them can relax.

Feeding our fears

There are two ways to feed our fears. One makes it stronger and makes us more identified with it. The other helps it calm down and we can relate to it more consciously as a part of us (and not all of who or what we are).

In the first case, we feed the fear in the sense of fueling the fearful stories and our reactivity to it. We indulge in the scary stories. Make them more catastrophic. Make them seem more real. Avoid seriously questioning them. Indulge in our reactivity to them and whatever avoidance strategy we use.

In the second case, we feed the fear in the sense of nurturing it so it can relax. We meet it. Listen to what it has to say. Investigate the scary stories and find what’s more true for us. Notice the physical sensations in the body we call fear. Befriend it. See it comes from love and a wish to protect us. Even find love for it and for its innocence.