Ep #151: Overcoming Psychological Avoidance

By: Dr. Sherry Price

Drink Less Lifestyle with Dr. Sherry Price | Overcoming Psychological Avoidance

Is there something in your life that you are putting off?

Something that, deep down, is really bothering you?

Maybe you’ve put on extra weight. Maybe you’re drinking more than you want to. Maybe you have some bad habits that you know you want to change, but haven’t yet.

What are you waiting for?

If you are stuck in this mentality, you might be experiencing psychological avoidance.

This experience doesn’t feel good. You know that life can be so much better but you just aren’t giving this issue the attention. 

It’s time to change that.

This week, find out why we fall into psychological avoidance, how to know if you’re in it right now, and how to break free and finally replace those bad habits with healthy ones.


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What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • What psychological avoidance is and why you might experience it.
  • How psychological avoidance differs from procrastination.
  • How to break free from psychological avoidance and move forward.


Featured on the Show:


Full Episode Transcript:

You are listening to the Drink Less Lifestyle podcast with Dr. Sherry Price, episode number 151.

Welcome to Drink Less Lifestyle, a podcast for successful women who want to change their relationship with alcohol. If you want to drink less, feel healthier and start loving life again you’re in the right place. Please remember that the information in this podcast does not constitute medical advice. Now, here’s your host, Dr. Sherry Price.

Well, hello my beautiful friend. I hope you are having an amazing week. Here at the Price household it is the week back to school. And I laugh because my little one has a lot of anxiety about school. She’s in middle school going into eighth grade and for all of you moms and parents out there that are navigating this time, whether it’s high school, middle school. I know it can be confusing for the kids. COVID didn’t do them any favors. And so we are practicing a lot of anxiety techniques this week.

And I have to laugh, because laughter is a form of releasing anxiety for me. So yes, that’s what’s going on over here. Hope you’re all having a great week. And I want to give a shout out to this awesome review that I received on the podcast and I wanted to say thank you so much for rating this review and leaving a review because it really helps the algorithms so this podcast can find more people to help them navigate, choosing a different relationship with alcohol, which is really my goal.

And so this review comes from a podcast listener that says, “Just what I wanted. Thank you so much for the information on drinking less. I believe in the adage, all things in moderation. And love your encouragement as well as the helpful tips and health tips based on science.” Thank you so much for writing that because I really try to provide you evidence based in science, based on what we know about alcohol, based on what we know about human behavior, based upon what we know about psychology, based upon what we know about this being a mental condition.

And really give you the tools to empower yourself, to define what that relationship is that you want to have with alcohol. And what I know from working with so many people is that a one size fits all approach doesn’t work for everybody. And I know some people get triggered on being told what to do. So I really want to help you navigate how to get the relationship you want with alcohol. This is something you get to define.

Alcohol is a personal choice and I don’t want to make anybody feel bad if they choose to drink, I choose to drink. Will I always choose to drink? I don’t know, but right now I am still choosing moderation for me. And what I know is this feels so much better than where I used to be as an over-drinker. Sure, do I have room for improvement? Absolutely, but at least I’m meeting myself where I’m at and what I’m willing to do at this point in my life.

So with that, I want to transition and talk about today something that I see that comes up quite a bit. And so I want to ask you first a few questions before we dive into this. Is there anything in your life that you are putting off or maybe you’re not addressing but deep down you know it really bothers you? So I’ll give a few examples where I see people put things off. They’re not willing to address it. They’re not willing to look at it. But deep down, if you really talk about it, they’re really bothered by it.

So maybe this is a difficult conversation that you need to have with a loved one. And this is something I just experienced in my own life. Having to have difficult conversations with my aging parents. Maybe it’s that you’ve put on extra weight since COVID or during COVID and you’re just ignoring it and not taking any steps to take the weight off, but yet deep down it really bothers you.

Or it could be that you are struggling with a drinking issue and you are wrestling with it, but you really put it out of your mind most of the time. And so these are just some of the examples I see when I work with clients. So let me ask you, why aren’t you addressing it now? Because we know addressing the issue sooner brings you relief sooner. And this is exactly why I advocate addressing something earlier than later, because even if we’re not addressing it, it still bothers us and then we carry that longer.

And that’s what I want to address today is we put this thing off, but really are we putting it off or are we avoiding it? Because if you don’t want to think about it, if you don’t want to talk about it, if you don’t want to even lift the corner of the lid on that little secret compartment of this deep buried thing, you may be in this place that we call psychological avoidance.

Now, psychological avoidance is much different than procrastination. Procrastination is something that you say you’ll get to and maybe it’s not right now, you procrastinate till tomorrow or the next day or the next day. But within a short period of time you actually get to it and do the thing. So if it’s a project around the house, you actually get it done.

If it’s something you’ve been wanting to do and now is not the right time, if it’s been something you’ve been wanting to do, but your plate is quite full and you’re going to put it on your calendar and you’re going to get to it within a couple of days or a few weeks. That to me is procrastination. Psychological avoidance is something that you kind of want to get around to, but you really don’t. You’d just rather avoid it because there’s much more comfort in avoiding it and not doing anything about it.

And it could be that it’s just so painful to think about it. Or maybe you’ve had so much failure around something that you’re so afraid of trying again and failing again. So for instance, I might see it as yes, I’m going to really tackle this drinking thing come the new year. I’ll do the dry January, yeah, that sounds great. January comes, the dry January doesn’t happen. Then you start talking to yourself, yeah, maybe I’ll do it a little bit later. Lent is coming up. Let me give it up for 40 days of Lent, I’ll do that. Lent comes and goes and really you didn’t give any effort to give it up.

And then the summer time comes and I can distract myself with all the outdoor activities and getting in shape and the warm weather and that’ll motivate me. And now the summer is here and gone and no action has been taken. Or it’s when the kids go back to school or when the holidays are over. And then before you know it’s the next year and the next year. Now, what happens during this time is you’re not making progress on the thing you want to make progress on and oftentimes you get further behind. The drinking issue becomes bigger, the weight issue becomes a bigger thing or getting healthier or learning proper ways to eat for your body.

And this is what psychological avoidance looks like, avoiding something that you know deep down is good for you and something that you want, you desire, yet you don’t make time to get around to it or do anything about it. And yet, when people come to me, I hear a lot, I should have tackled this sooner. I should have not let it got this bad. I mean I see my past self say that. I had over eight years of a chronic over-drinking issue that I was just avoiding, I wasn’t tackling.

And I’ve seen this with my mom, wanting to lose weight and saying over and over, “Yeah, I’ll go on a diet, yeah, I’ll learn how to get this weight off.” But yet the weight kept creeping up and up and up and there was no action taken on how to get the weight off or actions to learn healthier habits, learn healthy lifestyle habits and therefore diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis, all these conditions came because of it.

And that’s why I want to empower you and advocate for healthy lifestyle habits, not alcohol diets, not diets that you can’t sustain, healthy lifestyle habits, habits that you can sustain and habits that also bring you joy and pleasure. We are not meant to just endure a life, we are meant to go through life with pain and pleasure.

So when you’re in psychological avoidance, you’ll tell others what they want to hear but you really don’t commit to yourself to actually looking at making those changes, just like my mom, yeah, I’ll get to it. Yeah, I’ll find a diet, yeah, but deep down she was just saying what I wanted and others wanted to hear without really committing to making those changes herself. And I get it, it was fear that held her back. She tried so many diets and she lost some weight, but then she would yo-yo back and go back to an even bigger sized body once those diets ended.

Because many diets are there because they’re going to get the weight off but they’re not for maintenance. They’re just about losing weight and most people can’t eat that way for life. So as I talked about on this podcast before, it’s generally fear that holds people back. It’s fear that’s not addressed and therefore we go into psychological avoidance. And so that fear begins to grow and grow and grow and over time it makes us paralyzed where we don’t feel like we can do anything. We feel stuck. We don’t know what to do. We don’t know which way to turn.

And we just feel confused and give up and that’s exactly how people start talking when they’re in psychological avoidance. “I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried all the things.” And then they give you examples, “Well, when I tried this, this bad thing happened or this outcome didn’t work out the way I wanted to. Or if I do this, somebody else is going to get mad.” And yes, we want to validate all the things that didn’t go well. However, there’s always a path to get what you want.

And that’s what I love to help people find out is if these paths didn’t work. Valuable information. We’re not going to try those again. And if those paths did work, let’s pull the caveats out from them that did work and then tweak it to make it better and more sustainable and turn into a lifestyle habit. So if you want to end an over-drinking habit, well, let’s consider all the ways that we can make that happen. A high desire for wine, cocktails, beer, that could be changed, people have done it over and over again.

I have changed completely my desire for wine and chardonnay particularly, and I did that without having to give it up completely. And I’ve seen hundreds of other women do this as well. And when I talk with my other coach friends, they’ve helped so many of their clients overcome an over-drinking issue as well, men and women alike. So we know that change is possible. We know that changing the brain is possible. We know that changing our mental state is possible.

But yet when we sit in our own psychological avoidance, not willing to look at it, we are basically blocking ourselves mentally from discovering any of those possibilities of how we can get the exact thing we want. We hear, we want that desire, we have that desire, but then our brains are telling us, “No, you can’t have it”, or, “No, you don’t deserve it.” Which is just mental BS, it’s baloney.

And I hear that word a lot with my female clients, “I don’t deserve it.” And I often remind them, it doesn’t matter if you deserve it or not. Deserve is not even on the table, it’s not even up for discussion, it’s not part of the equation. You just get to have it because you want it. It’s not a deserve thing. It’s are you willing to work for it? Because we just get to have it because we want it, I think is a beautiful thing. We don’t have to be better than others. We don’t have to put others down. We don’t have to shame others. We don’t have to do it in spite of others.

There’s no hierarchy here and if you get it, it doesn’t mean other people can’t get it. It’s not a limited resource. So if you lose 20 pounds, it doesn’t rob somebody else of losing their 20 pounds, they can still lose 20 pounds as well. Or if you solve your over-drinking issue, it doesn’t take away from somebody else doing the same, and in actuality it contributes to helping others, because then you figure it out and can share your experience.

I figured it out and can share my experience. Somebody else figured it out and can share their experience and then we go on helping others become happier and healthier and live and get our desires in life. So in fact, we motivate more people to get what they want and we can all live with that celebration and joy. When somebody asks me how I overcame my over-drinking habit, I tell them. I don’t hold back. I share with them the exact process.

And I’m in the process of losing fat and building muscle and when people ask me how I do it, I tell them because it becomes a domino effect and we can all get healthier together. To me, that’s amazing, that’s epic and that’s empowering others to get the life that they want. Which psychological avoidance is the very opposite, it’s depressing, it keeps you stuck, it keeps you paralyzed. And then you don’t know what to do and you spin out in mental suffering.

Now, I know all of us have been through difficult stuff in life. I know some very successful people who had some of the most troubled childhoods. And when I’m working with people, some of them have been through horrendous things. But what I’ve learned is that no matter what, all human beings deal with their own things, big or small. And those small things for some people can feel like very big things because they don’t have the big things to compare it to in their life. So we don’t even call it small or big, it’s just a thing. It’s just a thing.

It’s a thing we need to deal with and everybody has their thing. Everyone has their cross to bear. And yes, times can be difficult and yes, they can feel, even insurmountable. And yes, we recognize that, we don’t brush it under the rug, we don’t say it doesn’t matter because it does matter. But we also don’t look at it as a roadblock, that your life stops here, that progress stops here, that you can’t overcome this.

We heal and move on, similar to what they teach in post-traumatic growth. It’s your resourcefulness that’s going to pull you out of feeling and being stuck. So if you’re sitting here listening to this podcast and thinking, gosh, it would be nice to lose 20 pounds and you’ve been thinking that for a while, or it would be nice to have a normal relationship with alcohol again, I want you to know it’s possible, so what’s stopping you?

What’s blocking you from going all in on this goal or pushing the pedal to the metal to overcome it and put down the bad habits and pick up healthy ones? Because what I know about you, friend, is that you are an overcomer. And if you’ve ever listened to the song Mandisa sings, oh my gosh, it makes me cry. I love the lyrics. Because we all know we struggle, but we also know that we are fueled to move and make progress.

So when you’re looking at breaking free from psychological avoidance, the first step is to identify that you are engaging in it. And that’s how I started this podcast, asking you, “Is there anything that you’re not addressing that really bothers you deep down, that you’ve been putting it on the back burner of your life for months, maybe years, maybe decades?” So take that first step and identify what it is because we’ve all lived through adversity. All of us have lived through adversity but are you going to let it define you now and for the rest of your life?

Or are you willing to stop avoiding it and address it and look at ways to overcome it? Because here’s what I learn when we struggle is that there are so many gifts in a struggle, gifts you can’t even see yet, gifts you don’t even know exist. But you’ll never get to experience these gifts if you stay stuck mentally and emotionally avoiding something.

Now, I’m not asking for my struggles to increase, but I do know from the struggles that I’ve had, I’ve learned so much about myself and how to become more resilient. And if I didn’t experience some of them I wouldn’t be the same person I am today, they have humbled me. They have made me more compassionate. They have made me smarter. They have made me more human. They made me a better listener. They made me a better coach and I’d argue they made me a better human.

Some of these struggles cracked me open where I didn’t even think I could crack. They made me see a side of me that I didn’t know I had but I could let those struggles define me and stay stuck in them for years and decades or I can choose to overcome them and stop avoiding them. I don’t look at my past and say it doesn’t matter because your past does matter. It matters what happened to you but what matters more is your response to what happened.

And I know you’re listening to this podcast not because of where you’ve been, but because of where you want to go. You want that growth, that transformation, that healing, that new version of you, that person who overcomes and is no longer struggling with an issue. You want to feel lighter, more free, have greater clarity and better health. And that’s why I’ve designed programs to help people who want to free themselves.

And very soon I will be launching yet another program to increase your health and wellbeing and to help you through this process. Because we all need help, oftentimes we can’t do things alone and on our own. We need guidance. We need support. We need accountability. So ask yourself, what do I need to stop avoiding now and address it?

What would take me to the next level of my life? And go at it with love and compassion, not full of hatred and self-loathing and self-deprecation. Because hating yourself along the way is not necessary, and I’d argue it thwarts your progress. So I encourage you, it’s time to take that next beautiful and first epic step now for you. Alright, my friend, listen to the song, be an overcomer because you have the power to do so.

If you want to change your relationship with alcohol and with yourself then come check out EpicYOU. It’s where you get individualized help mastering the tools so you can become a woman who can take it or leave it and be in control around alcohol in any situation. EpicYOU is the place for women who want to be healthy, confident and empowered to accomplish their goals and live their best life. Come join us over at epicyou.com/epicyou. That’s epicyou.com/ E-P-I-C-Y-O-U. I can’t wait to see you there.

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