02.01.17

SO I’M AVOIDANT

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last night i had natalie over to my house for one of our takeout and wine brainstorm sessions for a job we have coming up. we were working on decluttering my kitchen cabinets and i came down pretty hard on myself after i realized how bad my avoidant behaviors had gotten. i laid in bed and my mind swirled around with all the things i’d put off out of irrational fear, laziness, or just plain didn’t want to do it syndrome. my huge stack of mail by my front door i refuse to open, my christmas tree still in theย driveway, the gyno appointment i need to make, and oh god the dentist too, the junk drawers all over my house, my desktop that needs to be organized, the cat litter i always put off buying till the last second. it feels like behind every cabinet or drawer is aย mess i have avoided, and that if itย isn’t a job i probably will just put it off.

i wasn’t very nice to myself last night, let’s just say that. i felt ashamed and irritated for letting so many things pile up around me. i even went as far as to say…how will i be a mom someday? how can i take care of a little human baby and i can’t even open the mail? i know, this was extreme, but i was in a funk.

natalie tried to help by saying that organization was just not my focus, that i’m busy, i travel a lot, and that my time is well spent other places. which did help a little, but i still felt this great need to change.

it feels overwhelming to change something that big about yourself. and i know the answer is to do a few things everyday…today i woke up and tackled the mail, the dishes, and made the gyno appointment. all of that took 30 minutes and i felt like a warrior princess. can i keep it up? not sure.

we are working on a few posts all about decluttering and starting new. i thought i would share my back story, because it’s heavy on my mind. do any of you deal with the same thing? any advice?! xx bri

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    Morgan says:

    I’ve been feeling the exact same way lately: I’ve been avoiding doing research that would lead to a career change, avoiding taking care of financial matters that would benefit me… things that would actually move me forward. I was feeling really down on myself until I actually thought about how I HAD spent my time in January: it was full of time spent with family and friends, which *is* a priority for me. And that made me feel better. And so did this article.
    I hope it helps, you’re not alone!

    Kelly says:

    Great Huff post link. Thanks for sharing!

    Can I be honest? My desk is cluttered, my dishes are in the sink, I need to check the mail, and shoot, I am pregnant and going to be a mom any day now. I felt the same belittling sesh last night and it was brutal. (Thank goodness for friends who lift us up.) But we have to remember that we’re not perfect and that there is so much good that we’re participating in. And it makes all the difference celebrating the tiny victories, like making dinner instead of eating out. Or actually waking up when we said we would.

    As far as the organization, I know I said my desk was a mess, but I just finished reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. I thought it was a little crazy at first, but holy cow, it’s made the biggest difference in my life already. Like my closet isn’t spewing clothes everywhere and I always know where to find my keys now. I’m halfway through and I’m seriously loving being surrounded by only things that bring me joy, so when I do have to wash dishes, I actually don’t mind it because I love every single dish I own now. It’s kinda hard to explain, but making room for only positive and uplifting things in my life is something I really needed this year, especially with all the negativity that I feel like is surrounding us all the time on the news and just in the world. It was the sort of therapeutic healing I needed, and the changes I’ve been making are truly life changing.

    I think that decluttering can also be a good to confront your past and let go. I don’t know, it’s just been incredibly healing. Wishing you the best on your decluttering journey!

    Samantha Lee says:

    I often feel the same way. Usually I feel too overwhelmed (and anxious) to even START doing all of the things I need to do. I’ve found that making lists and a schedule helps – devoting a certain chunk of time to taking care of one thing – that way you’re not trying to tackle everything at once and inevitably giving up. <3

    Stacy says:

    I totally know what you mean! I chalk it up to a lazy streak I have. I’m not lazy on the whole, but when it comes to all the little things like cleaning the cat box and calling the doctor, I just…don’t do it.

    I generally subscribe to a “minimalist” lifestyle and am always decluttering, etc. but still have to work on some of these habits of just doing what needs to be done. Looking forward to your posts – and don’t be so hard on yourself (although I know I do the same…) – there’s just so much adults have to do!

    Hannah says:

    I do this a lottttt too. I put off things I don’t want to do until they’re keeping me up at night. But ever since I saw the print Jordan Ferney’s husband made for her that’s hanging in their home (you can see a peek of it here: ) that says: NOTHING WILL MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER EXCEPT DOING THE WORK, I’ve gotten better. I tell myself that exact sentence, and do the sucky thing, and it only takes like 5 minutes and I’m way less stressed. Projects at work, dishes in the sink, emptying my email inbox…I know the only thing that will make me feel better is to do it. <3

    Same same same. I’m 21 and noticing that about myself and hating it. I’m trying to tell myself that I have clients and school and a social life, and a lot of that is exhausting in itself so the very last thing I would ever want to do / remember to do is clean or remain organized. It just sucks when you finally come out of that busy-haze, or come home feeling stressed, and there’s a pile of dishes and all this other shit you need to do.

    Getting on top of those “chores” and understanding that in the long run, it doesn’t take very long and you’ll feel so much better after, is essential. Put on some music in the morning while you bust out some little things. Drink some wine with a fun show you’ve already watched for background music while you spend one evening organizing one drawer. Just one little thing! And clean as you go! Open your mail RIGHT when you get it from the mailbox and sort it then if you need to take care of it later. Little, little things ’cause they always add up. We all have to deal with this and it’s awful, but you can do it!

    Also, it’s okay to be lazy for like a month or two. Don’t beat yourself up too much.

    Firstly, I do this ALL THE TIME. However sometimes I like to try and remember the feeling of when I’ve done the work / chores and how that makes me feel. I think about my future self thanking my past self for being kind….bit weird maybe – but it helps. Also I have to agree, getting rid of crap really helps. But you gotta be in the mood to actually start. I type this as I’m working to a deadline that I’ve had ample time to complete, sometime you just gotta accept it and not beat yourself up about it. Being a grown up is hard sometimes. Shed the guilt. You’ll make a great mum Bri, and don’t worry your body is built with a nesting instinct when you’re pregnant and you won’t leave a single stone unturned (or box of clutter) – it’s the best!

    Katie Stuart says:

    Girl, I struggle with the exact same thing. I blame it on my depression, which I’m not sure is the right thing to do or not. But so often I just feel tired and lazy and don’t feel like doing it “right now” and “I’ll take care of it later,” which ends up being days, or even weeks later.” It’s gotten to the point where it affects my work ethic and makes me think “How the heck am I ever going to be able to support myself and have a full-time job?!” Or like you said, how am I ever going to be a mom? I honestly don’t know how to completely get over that, but I guess like you said, just do a few things every day. Baby steps.

    Madison N Lyons says:

    I do this all the time. Sometimes I force myself to do things by setting a timer and getting as much done as I possibly can in that time, and usually (if I don’t need to run out the door when the timer goes off) I keep on going with whatever I was doing! So far I’ve found this works for cleaning/tidying, small tasks that I keep putting off, and homework.

    Ombia says:

    Baby steps, 15 minutes a day. Flylady.
    Her newsletter is the best.

    Ombia says:

    Babysteps. 15 minutes a day. Declutter your life
    with Flylady.

    Kelly says:

    Great Huffpost article. Thanks for sharing Morgan. And yes, Bri, we all feel ya girl. BUT, how great does it feel when you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do what you’ve been putting off. My passport needs to be renewed (new pic, yea!? Eh!?), should probably get renters insurance before that becomes my biggest regret. I feel you. We’ll get there. I’ll wake up one day and decide to tackle it (hopefully at least 6 weeks before my next international trip!). Until then- I’m going to wake up happy and thankful with a commitment to just have fun.
    Let’s finish the week strong ladies!

    Kiki says:

    Two words- Task Rabbit. Initially I thought I was being lazy for spending money on someone else doing what I should be able to do. Hogwash! If it helps me stay sane, focused and on time, then money well spent. Maybe a personal assistant is worth considering.

    Josie says:

    Okay, but on the other hand: you DO travel a lot and work a ton…around the clock. Hire a personal assistant. Someone to book appointments and travel, oversee mail and bills, and run all the little errands. Don’t feel ashamed that you can’t do it all; be confident in your success, which has brought you so far, and be proud that you are in a position where you can do something like this for yourself. Invest your energy into your strengths and creativity, and outsource the rest. And you will be a great mom, and your kid will have great style, a good sense of humor, killer dance moves, and will be raised on cheese and potatoes, as all the happiest kids are. And tell your assistant to let me know when you’re in ATL ๐Ÿ˜‰ Miss you old friend xo

    bri says:

    love and miss you! thanks for lifting my spirits girl

    Erica says:

    Love your honesty and vulnerability Bri! Self care is so important and I know it’s a journey to figure out ourselves and getting organized. Take it one day and step at a time!

    Kaitlin says:

    I read a great piece of advice re: being organized from Emily Ley’s blog. She takes the first 15-30 minutes of her day and does what she calls “farm chores.” Basically, you take those first moments of your day and do the little things that make the day go smoothly. For her, it involved getting up 30 minutes before her kids. And then she’d shower, do a 5 minute makeup routine, get the coffee going, put in a load of laundry and start breakfast for her kiddos. I thought this was a great idea and I do something similar now, except mine involves opening all the blinds in my home, making my bed, starting breakfast, getting dressed and then sitting on social media for 5 minutes. But when I do all that with the start of my day, I feel energized to tackle the rest of it. Anyway, maybe make your own 15-30 minute routine to help you kick off each each and it will keep the clutter down and give you energy to take on your day.

    Angie says:

    Yes all the things not done keep me up at night for sure! I always ask myself why can’t I get it together? A few weeks ago I decided to give myself a break and promise myself to just do 1 thing every day…just 1 …so 1 thing for me, 1 thing for my goal for work and 1 thing for my house. This is totally working and creating momentum and I am actually accomplishing way more then my 1 thing a day.

    Heather says:

    There have been a lot of studies that show time and time again that the more creative and intelligent you are, the more likely you are to be a disorganized/messy/cluttered person. You are much more focused on the big important things than worried about those minute everyday tasks. For me, just having that knowledge takes a little bit of the pressure off.

    Sara says:

    This has been my forever struggle, more so now that I freelance and work from home. Before I left my full-time job I had so many dreams of things that would get done when I wasn’t there, but it’s been the exact opposite. I even put off blogging because gaining more work was my main focus. I try to make a to do list before I go to bed for the next day, though admittedly, that’s sometimes even more anxiety inducing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in the feeling and all of these comments are so helpful! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Jackie Lamas says:

    Oh girl you speak the truth for so many. I have a baby and let me tell you that the state of your home has nothing to do with who you are and definitely has nothing with how your friends and family feel about you. I rather enjoy having my baby sleep in my arms than dust or do the dishes. And I’m sure traveling and doing special projects are better than dealing with junk drawers. And like someone commented, pay someone to do the things you don’t like to do. Stay happy and do what you want!

    Sarah says:

    I feel you! I think everyone has those avoidant behaviors over different things. My fiance is the “never open the mail” and never write a thank-you note avoider. I’m a thank you card nazi but it’s been almost 2 years since I went to the dentist (“haven’t found one I like” excuse) and 3 years since I went to the doctor (“too far away” excuse) and even though my current s give me headaches, still haven’t met with an eye doctor (and I’m on my last month of s). Just typing it out makes me realize that I’m really on top of my financial goals, but reeeaaalllyy behind all the health and self-care ones. It’s really helpful to see if there’s a pattern!

    Katie says:

    This post could have had better timing. And I do this exact same avoidance behavior. Honestly it feels so relieving to know that someone else has had that same thought, the “how will i be a mom someday?” when I can’t even keep the dishes clean or do laundry or not have piles of mail stack up on every table. Seriously. So thanks for sharing.

    Courtney says:

    Yes! I feel so tired every morning the moment I wake up because I remember all the things I put off doing the night before. I have weeks worth of laundry piled up and never want to tackle it, so the problem gets worse. I have no idea how to combat those kinds of things. Did you set aside 30 minutes to do that stuff or did it just happen to take 30 minutes? Such a common yet frustrating thing to handle but it’s nice knowing someone as put together as you even struggles with that…takes off some of the pressure I put on myself.

    Susan says:

    Aren’t we both libras?? ๐Ÿ™‚ I think some people are able to keep up with that stuff, but I personally can get a little lazy and like to procrastinate. But I know this about myself, and like you, I know when I need to get it together and do it! But it comes in waves. Don’t be too hard on yourself – take care of the important things. Peace!

    jensen says:

    same, same, same.
    but, i declared 2017 the year of living my best life, and so with that hired a cleaning lady to come once a month, which has been LIFE CHANGING. i always felt bad about doing something of the sort, and then realized if it meant not having to go through the vicious cycle of putting off cleaning my oven / fridge / bathroom, then getting really down on myself about it, and then huffing and puffing the whole time i finally decided to do it every month it was definitely money well spent, AND it’s cleared mental space for me to do the things i actually want to do (like cooking dinner every night) but always put off because everything else was so weighing. definitely think it’s worth looking into where you can find places to “outsource” the things you just really really don’t enjoy doing.

    Samae says:

    Powering through it one day is empowering. And you feel like a total badass….wondering why you neglected stuff for so long. I need to get my diet together. Its been a shitshow for months. Gotta get back on track.We all have our things. Get it, girl. Get it.

    Evelyn says:

    I think your off to a great start. You’ve identified and become fully aware of the need to create change in your life.Thats where it all begins. Now go do it and keep doing it! ๐Ÿ™‚

    E says:

    Google Keep is my savior. It’s so satisfying even to write down a list and then slowly check things off. I avoid everything (especially making doctors appointments!) but find the more I check off the list, the more my brain and creativity and soul have time to focus on the important things in life!

    Colleen Clark says:

    Oh god PREACH. I’m an exec at a tech company and I can definitely handle my work, but the tradeoff is that my home life is a damned mess. Making a dentist appointment, handling car maintenance, cleaning, organizing, the other day i left my wallet on top of the car OVERNIGHT (and, thankfully it was still there the next day). I’m so exhausted when i get home that I can’t seem to force my brain to tackle the little stuff. And then it all builds up and my To Do list is so long that it’s to daunting to even think about getting started.

    One thing that I’ve realized is that there is a limited amount of time in a day. If so much of my mental energy/time is taken up with my job/personal life, then I need to accept that I need to spend some money to outsource some of the things that then need to fall off my plate. Paying someone to clean your house every other week frees up your time, gives you a bi-weekly deadline for getting your space in order and gives you the peace of mind of a clean backdrop for life. Ya can’t do it all, so I’ve tried to start off loading the things that other people can either do better or faster.

    I would LOVE to hear what you find to be helpful as you endeavor to work on this side of life cause man do I need it.

    Bailey says:

    i love that you shared this and i feel your pain. first of all, you are a badass, so don’t beat yourself up! and go ahead hire a housekeeper, you deserve it ๐Ÿ˜‰

    but if you really want to take a look at the avoidance (i recently had enough after really struggling and feeling like the “why are you like this” meme most of my life), gabrielle bernstein meditations are truly awesome. i have found there are fears and blockages attached to the procrastination and i’ve been trying to catch myself in the act. why am i resisting this SO much? usually there’s a reason and it’s so much easier to bulldoze through the silly fears once you identify them. i never thought i’d be meditation and mindfulness girl but it really does help me to be a badass when it feels like it’s all piling up xo

    Simone says:

    The feeling of being over whelmed is so real for so many of us. Before the holidays, I had the same feeling of expecting to much from myself. I wrote about it here:
    Our only job is to be the best version of our selves.
    Thank you for being so honest. In a world of polished blog posts we need injections of reality every now and then.

    Janel A says:

    I hear this LOUD AND CLEAR! The gyno, the dentist – all of it. You are human. We all are. There is baggage behind all our doors that only we know about (and maybe our closest friends).

    Kaylee says:

    Bri I can totally relate! Thanks for sharing! I’m a film editor living in Burbank, working in Hollywood and the hours we freelancers work are INSANE. It’s never predictable! Right now I’m between jobs and actually have time to clean the house, pay my car registration, take my cat to the vet, etc — and I’m STILL putting off going to the doctor… sigh… It’s just the way it is. Without a predictable schedule, it’s easy to put things off because you genuinely need to rest in your free time. I’m still trying to figure this life thing out. At 27, I feel like I should FEEL like an adult, and I’m definitely not there yet! Let me know if you figure this adulting thing out! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Andrea says:

    Can I just say, why beat yourself up? Do these things matter? Ya I hear you on the gyno thing, yes make that appointment and dentist (I always make my next appointment when I leave, then I never have to think about it).
    But don’t give yourself a hard time, you are doing the things that are important to you. When you have a kid, that will become important to you and you will take care of it.
    Junk drawers and messes do not matter, hence why they are last on your list. This is not a negative thing! If you want to fix this part of you, even tho I think it’s no big deal, you need systems. For instance, I come home I check the mail everyday, I have a filing system next to my alarm switch where I put the important mail and I toss everything else in the trash next to it everyday, it’s a rhythm. Then when I pay my bills or need the important mail I go to the file. Or, like I said I always make appointments when leaving an appointment- otherwise I’d never go to the dentist or the eye doctor. Lol. put it in your phone and set a reminder. If you have junk drawers empty them all out into a box, anything you grab out of the box in the next month- put back in the drawer, throw the rest away after the month, once you do this, tell yourself you don’t do junk drawers and never put junk in them- throw it away. Anyway, I could use more systems/rhythms in my life, because then the boring shit never needs to be done. But the truth is this stuff is not important, and you aren’t a failure for avoiding unimportant things.

    Check out the KonMari method. It is life changing!

    Anonymous says:

    On a daily when I’m feeling overwhelmed or like shit.. I always remind myself how blessed I am. It’s helpful when my mind tries to steer me in the wrong direction. You’re awesome just keep a post it up that reminds you of this. That’s the lame part of being a female. Too many fricken emotions. Keep your head up..

    Cheers!

    Maggie says:

    Another vote to hire a personal assistant, even just one or two days a week. You actually cannot physically do everything required to maintain your life and still preserve your creativity. Also, there genuinely won’t be enough hours in the day. I’d bet you’re already sacrificing some sleep as it is. Get some help.

    Kate says:

    I call it life admin and I am shit at it. I have such limited spare time I would rather do something more fun with it. Also anxiety. Love it when you do personal posts.

    Flic says:

    I know this feeling all too well. 30 minutes is golden! Swap out / scrolling for those 30 minutes just for you to tackle the stuff you don’t wanna do but needs doing. My dad always said JFDI… just f…ing do it! Hugs to you girl xx

    Rose says:

    Hey Bri, thanks for sharing. You’re totally not alone. What your describe really resonates with me. For me it feels really self sabotaging and unsettling! I battle with it a lot. Its like I know exactly what needs to be done, as well as the freedom and peace I’ll feel from doing it but actually following through and doing it feels so flipping hard! At the moment I try and do a little each day and celebrate ticking off two or three to-do’s from my massive list. I’m finding inspiration from Marie Kondo and Rhonda Hetzel – it just makes sense to try and simply. If you’re into spirituality, I’ve also found The Little Sage to be a good resource in terms of the idea of “cleaning and clearing”. Lots of love and be kind to yourself ๐Ÿ™‚

    I can totally empathize with this Bri! Why do we choose to put off the little tasks we don’t enjoy only to feel anxious about the fact we haven’t done them?!
    I’m opening all my mail this morning!

    Katrin says:

    You’re invited to my home in Cologne, Germany, to have a look at my mess. I’m working too much and try to find time to make creative things like collages in the spare time (that of course I nearly never have). I’m collecting vintage stuff for food photos etc. which are a great excuse to visite fleamarkets … I think you get the picture. BUT: When I look at the clean flats of some of my friends, I understand that they have a nine to five job, that they aren’t painting and drawing and DIYing. They work, they come home and sometimes don’t cook at all. Living like this, I wouldn’t have much mess around me. I have the theory that creative people are fundamental different; and are allowed to collect and mess around as part of a creative process.
    But decluttering from time to time is a very good idea. You’ll find lots of things to give away – and some others to start the next round of creative mess. ๐Ÿ™‚
    All the best, Bri, everything is OK with you,
    Katrin

    Andrea says:

    Living with clutter and mess is a valid choice. There is no moral superiority to tidiness. And a lot of that is gendered. Would we have hunk he same way about a mans apartment? But for the important things we avoid – dr appointments, bills etc. eat the frog. When you get up in the morning, start the day by doing the one thing you are avoiding the most. you will feel so empowered.

    Nathalia says:

    Haโ€”I saw the title, completely related to it, opened it in a new tab, and then avoided it for a day because it would make me deal with my own avoidance!

    It’s been so refreshing to read through the comments and see how many people go through the same thing. Sometimes when we’re so busy, it feels like putting things off so we can have a minute to ourselves feels like we’re doing ourselves a favor, but I’ve found time and time again that the opposite is true! I’ve always had an avoidant streak, which I got from my mother… I know *exactly* what I’m supposed to do, and by when, but I just… don’t. There’s some weird pleasure in not doing something, but it never outweighs the guilt/shame/general bad vibe of knowing you have a ton of stuff to do.

    It’s important to remind yourself of all the wonderful things that not opening your mail gave you time to do! Don’t be too hard on yourself… and like others have said, one step at a time! Confronting it is already solving half the problem. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Amy says:

    YES! I struggle with this more than I ever have. And I do not function well in clutter or disorganization. I relate to your post. I feel SO much better (like a warrior princess-ha), when I am organized and on top of things. I sincerely don’t know why I don’t tackle things the moment they need attention…

    jamie says:

    I needed to hear this – thanks for sharing! Sending you disorganized, avoidant, frazzled, procrastinated, messy high-fives! (And i DO have 2 little humans, who i keep alive every day in spite of it – you’ll be great when it’s time, don’t worry!!)

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