Episode 151 | Avoidance Culture

In this episode, Dr. Cari Wise explores the concept of avoidance culture and how humans have a tendency to try to control and avoid uncomfortable emotions. 

This behavior is rooted in our evolutionary past, where avoiding discomfort was necessary for survival. However, in the modern world, there are very few truly dangerous things that we need to avoid. 

Despite this, we still spend a significant amount of time and energy trying to avoid uncomfortable emotions and control situations that could potentially lead to discomfort. 

Dr. Wise emphasizes that discomfort is not always a sign of danger and encourages listeners to ask themselves what they are afraid of. By delving into the root of their discomfort, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of their fears and begin to let go of the need to control and avoid discomfort. 

She also advises questioning the lies we believe and focusing on what is true in order to shift our perspective and change our experience of any situation. By paying attention to negative emotions and identifying the lies we believe, we can redirect our focus to what is true and alleviate the pressure we feel. 

Overall, Dr. Wise highlights the prevalence of avoidance culture and the detrimental effects it has on our lives, and suggests that by challenging the lies we believe, we can let go of the need to try to control circumstances and avoid uncomfortable emotions and experience life more fully.

Key takeaways:

  1. Humans have a tendency to control and avoid uncomfortable emotions, which is rooted in our evolutionary past.
  2. In ancient times, avoiding discomfort was necessary for survival, but in the modern world, there are very few truly dangerous things that we need to avoid.
  3. Constantly avoiding uncomfortable emotions keeps us busy and distracted, preventing us from fully experiencing positive emotions and enjoying our lives.
  4. Feeling uncomfortable is not necessarily a sign of immediate danger or a problem that needs to be solved.
  5. By asking ourselves “What am I afraid of?” we can gain a deeper understanding of our fears and let go of the need to control and avoid discomfort.
  6. Negative emotions are offshoots of fear, and by questioning the lies we believe and focusing on what is true, we can shift our perspective and change our experience of any situation.
  7. Paying attention to negative emotions and identifying the lies we believe can help alleviate the pressure we feel and make each day easier to navigate.
  8. By recognizing that discomfort is not always a sign of danger and challenging the lies we believe, we can let go of the need to control and avoid uncomfortable emotions, allowing us to experience life more fully and enjoy positive emotions.

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Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay



Website: https://joyfuldvm.com



Music Credit: Music by Lesfm from Pixabay


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This transcript is auto-generated and may contain typos.

Hi there. I'm Dr. Cari Wise, veterinarian, certified life coach and certified quantum human design specialist. If you are a veterinary professional looking to uplevel your life and your career, or maybe looking to go in an entirely new direction, then what I talk about here on the joyful DVM podcast is absolutely for you. Let's get started. Hello my friends.

Welcome back to the joyful DVM podcast. Today I wanna spend a little bit of time talking about what I call avoidance culture. And it's really this concept of how we try to do all of these things and control all of these things in order to avoid feeling uncomfortable. Now, we don't like to feel uncomfortable. Let's just get that out there. We don't like to feel nervous.

We don't like to feel anxious or afraid or frustrated or embarrassed or inadequate. We don't like to feel any of those things. They land in this negative spectrum of emotion. So if we're thinking about the spectrum of emotion where zero is neutral, neither feeling great or feeling bad, so zero is neutral, then everything on the lower half of that spectrum is to some level of discomfort on the contrast.

Everything on the upper half of that spectrum is something that feels good. And if we go to the extreme polar opposites of this spectrum of emotion, at the very, very top is love. And at the very, very bottom is fear. It's important for us to know that this polarity of emotion exists and that it actually needs to exist, and also what comes along with it.

So first off, let's talk about the necessity of the polarity of emotion. If we didn't experience one, we wouldn't experience the other. So if we didn't experience unhappiness, then we wouldn't experience happiness because we would have nothing to contrast it against. And without contrast, everything is just neutral. So the highest of highs and lowest of lows when it comes to emotions.

So the spectrum of love and the spectrum of fear is another way to look at that they exist so that we can experience both. And where this comes into play with avoidance is we have been programmed and conditioned to avoid everything that is uncomfortable. So everything that falls into that lower spectrum of emotion we have been taught to try to avoid at all costs. Now,

why is this? It's actually pretty simple. The reason that we do this and how this came to be so the origins of this habit of avoiding discomfort is a really simple concept to understand because we have to go way back in history and just think about basic survival of this human species way back. We were truly at risk if we stepped away from our tribes,

if you will, if we stepped away from our groups of people out there on our own, we would be at more a danger of predation, quite honestly, is the easy way to look at this. So being eaten by a lion, and if we consider that at the origin of the species, so simple survival was the goal. And that there,

by learning what actually created danger and sharing that with other humans, kept more and more humans alive, we can see how we would be taught to avoid things that are scary. So being eaten by a lion is scary. Being ousted by the tribe is scary because if you're out there on your own in a world that at that point really did have a lot of threats to physical survival of the human species,

then being on your own was truly a life threatening situation. So that was the origin of teaching us teaching each other and passing down from generation to generation to generation. This need to avoid anything that creates fear. It really was a survival instinct. But now let's fast forward to where we are today. The spectrum of emotion, which is all either an offset of fear or an offset of love.

The very, very bottom is fear. The most uncomfortable that we can feel is afraid. The highest that we can feel is love. The greatest expression of enjoyment and excitement and all of that at the very top of that spectrum is love. And if we think about this, that polarity of the emotion, and then we consider the negative emotion, the entire spectrum of negative emotion.

So emotions like anxiety and frustration and embarrassment and inadequacy, all different spectrums of the anchor of fear, if we can consider that they're all just simply the result of fear showing up in all kinds of different ways, we can then start to ask ourselves a better question, which is, what am I afraid of? So no matter what experience you have or you're going through that is re resulting in the experience of a negative emotion or or uncomfortable emotion,

a great question to get to the heart of what's actually happening for you is to ask yourself, what am I afraid of? Because if we don't understand that we are actually just afraid of something at the heart of whatever's going on, then we will truly believe that we have to get away from whatever's happening. And the reason that I wanted to spend some time talking about this is because when we spend a lot of time avoiding and trying to control,

avoiding discomfort and trying to control any situation that could result in discomfort, we actually then lose time being able to live our lives to actually experience the lives that we are meant to have. And we live in this false reality that keeps reinforcing the dangers around us. Because the truth is, in the modern world, there are very few truly dangerous things, very few truly dangerous things.

When we look at every situation where we feel uncomfortable as a situation to solve, so something that needs to be fixed in order for us to feel good, not only does that have us staying very, very busy and putting in a lot of effort usually to control and change things that we don't have any control or cha, we don't have any control over our ability to change,

it also keeps us so distracted that we can't even have any bandwidth left to experience the other side of the spectrum of emotion. So to enjoy things, to feel excited to, to feel fulfilled, to feel peaceful, to feel joyful, motivated, accepted, worthy, loved. We don't have any capacity to experience any of that when we are so focused on trying to avoid or control variables that create uncomfortable emotion.

Why we do this? Why we spend all of our time trying to avoid uncomfortable emotion. We're trying to control circumstances in order to avoid uncomfortable emotion. Why we do this is simple, because there's a part of your brain and my brain that has been wired to believe that when we feel uncomfortable that we are in life-threatening danger, but we are not my friends.

This is so important to realize we are not. It is very rare that you are actually in life-threatening danger. And here's the funny thing about that. When you truly are in life-threatening danger, you don't have time to think about what's happening. You don't have time to sit in the discomfort of it because you're gone. You're moving that fight or flight kicks in,

your instincts kick in to actually help you survive that situation. But in this muddy middle where we're aware of the discomfort, but there isn't really anything to get away from and there isn't anything to solve, we take ourselves outta the game. We withdraw from our lives, we become angry, we become bitter, we become blamers of all the things that, all the circumstances around us,

which takes us completely out of our power. And it reinforces this idea that in order to enjoy your life, you must have a life that is absent of any type of uncomfortable emotion. It's just not possible though because the polarity of emotion is in play all the time. Both sides of the spectrum need to be present in your life. And the sooner that we realize that feeling uncomfortable doesn't mean there's something to be solved for,

doesn't mean that we're actually in life-threatening danger, then we can ask ourselves a better question. What lie am I telling myself? If we think about the origin of emotion, we think about fear, right? As the the origin of all the negative emotion right at the heart or the anchor of all the negative emotion that we can experience, all the discomfort that we can experience,

the anchor to all of that is fear. And in this day and age that you are in life, threatening danger is almost never true. 99.999% of the time, whatever's happening in your life is not truly life threatening. So when we can ask ourselves in the moment, what am I afraid of? What we are going to find is a whole bucket of lies.

Because my friends, if you're not about to be eaten by a lion, then you do not need to allow yourself to react as if you're about to be eaten by a lion. Your lower brain that's trying to keep you alive will always offer you the escape route. It's always gonna offer you a way to back out of whatever situation you're in. It's always gonna offer you an excuse to not per continue to persevere in those things that make you feel uncomfortable.

But in doing so, you're living through a lens of a lie that you are actually in danger and you are not in danger. What I love about this truth is that I can recognize in an instant if I'm in life-threatening danger. And you can too. And you're gonna find, just like I find, that 99.99999% of the time you're not in life-threatening danger.

So if you're not in life-threatening danger, that means that whatever narrative in your mind is cr that is creating the uncomfortable emotion for you has to be a narrative that is not true. You are believing a lie in that moment. Let me say that again. When you feel uncomfortable, it's because you are believing a lie. At the heart of that lie is that you are in life-threatening danger,

but there is a spectrum of that lie, just like there is a spectrum of emotion. So what are you believing in that moment that is just reinforcing and compounding the negative emotion that you're experiencing if the anchors of emotion at each side, polar opposites of emotion are fear and love. What's also at the polar opposites of the emotion are lies and truth. And so when you experience negative emotion,

you are believing a lie. So what lie are you believing? Are you believing you're not good enough? Are you believing you're not cut out for this? Are you believing that somebody doesn't like you? Are you believing that you have messed something up? Are you believing that you're going to have a board complaint filed against you? Are you believing that you're gonna lose your license?

Are you believing that you made the worst decision ever by pursuing whatever career or whatever relationship or what other situation that you're in? Are you believing you're not pretty enough or that you're not fit enough or that you're not resilient enough? You're not energetic enough? What lie are you believing? Because whatever that lie is or a combination of lies that you are believing,

whatever those are, they are going to keep you trapped in the negative spectrum of emotion. And what I want you to see is that you can completely simplify this entire journey by just realizing that even though there's this huge spectrum of emotion, it really just boils down to two fear and love. If it's anything negative, it's an offshoot of fear. And you are not in any kind of life-threatening situation 99.999%

of the time, which is why whatever you're believing, that is compounding the experience of whatever the negative emotion is, it has to be based in a lie. Lies are things that we cannot prove lies when we are trying to avoid the circumstances of the lie, we take ourselves outta the game we take, we kill our own confidence. We are not resilient,

we are not courageous. Notice how believing the lie pulls you out of the entire spectrum of the emotion that stems from love, Courage, resilience, excitement, motivation, peace, joy, happiness, fulfillment, alignment. All of those are on the upper spectrum of emotion. And so when we are not experiencing those things, the world has taught us that we,

we must work harder, that we must do more, that we must achieve more in order to be able to experience those things. And that's just not true. You don't have to do more in order to experience positive emotion. You just have to allow yourself and train yourself as a better way of putting this train yourself to stop believing the lie. In doing that,

you can also have a lot of compassion for yourself, which is so important to do because that you believe the lies that you have lived through the lens of the lies that you have been taught throughout your lifetime by your parents, your teachers, your clergy, your friends, your family, the world in general, that you must do everything in your power to avoid the what if scenarios.

When you allow yourself to see that for what it is, you can simply let it go without trying to bring it to any kind of conclusion, it gets a lot easier, quite honestly, All the what ifs in the world. If we continue to live and through the lens of a what if That's not going to help you get to the higher spectrum of emotion,

that's not gonna get you closer to love, that's not gonna create confidence for you. And so in our world, we get really busy trying to prepare ourselves for the potential of what might happen. All of that is anchored in lies, every single bit of it. And you might say to me, but Cari, you know if, if I mess up and then Mrs. Smith

is mad at me and she thinks I'm a terrible veteran, a terrible technician, she might turn me into the board. And if she turns me into the board, then I might lose my license. Okay, maybe. But is that true today? No, that's not true today. Can you guarantee that that sequence of events will ever unfold? No,

that's a lie. We can't predict the future. So whoop, that's a lie. Can you guarantee that if you do everything right that Mrs. Smith will like you? No, that's a lie. Can you guarantee if you do everything right that Mrs. Smith won't turn you into the board? No. So that's a lie. Can you guarantee that if you do everything right and Mrs. Smith

boards turns you into the board, that if you have the perfect medical record that it's gonna turn out okay? No, that's another lie. So notice how every step of the way, when you go down a what if train every step of the way, whatever you're trying to control, whatever you're trying to like hedge your betts against, you actually have zero ability to predict.

But the amount of effort that you will put into trying to control each of those steps to avoid the what if scenario is significant. And in doing so, you keep yourself focused on the very things that you're trying to anno avoid, which means you are keeping yourself experiencing the very emotion that you are trying to avoid. The world has taught us to do this,

and it's all based in a lie, my friends. You are so much more powerful than you realize that you are. And the truth is that you only have evidence of surviving every challenge that you've ever been up against in your lifetime. You have no reason to believe that that won't continue to be the case. There is no reason for us to spend an exorbitant amount of time being prepared for the potential of what if,

what if keeps you out of what is. So what is true, what is true is that the vast majority of clients who are unhappy are not gonna turn you into the board. The truth is that the vast majority of veterinary professionals who have a board complaint do not have any long-term effect against their license. Meaning they don't lose their license over it. The truth is,

the vast majority of our patients do get better. The truth is, the vast majority of sanctions handed down by veteran, by licensing boards end up just simply being a medical records violation, A slap on the hand. My opinion of that is a lot of the time it's simply to pacify the person who made the complaint in the first place. And in this day and age where the threat of litigation feels like it's stronger than ever because we're more aware of it,

I want us to also recognize that the outcomes really aren't that different. And in the fact that our world has changed to where more and more people turn to litigation and legal remedies when they're unhappy, right? They, they feel v villainized or victimized in some way, and so then they wanna sue somebody over it or turn somebody in, make a big fuss about whatever in that this day and age where that happens more than it has ever happened before,

what also goes with that is a decrease in the significance of it. And so what I mean by that is that today having something on your veterinary record where you've had a board complaint has much less impact on your career moving forward than it did 50 years ago. Because the culture that we live in, the na, the just the way the world works right now where people tend to go and sue or try to sue or at least make some kind of formal complaint more than they have ever have before,

It's not an anomaly. It's not all that unusual. And it's easier for veterinary professionals to look at those situations and be like, yeah, we see this was this client was just a little out there, right? And we can understand, like, I'm not trying to dismiss the, the impact of going through this because I get it like it's very scary,

right? Anything legal is very scary. It's kinda like taxes. Like they've become these big scary things only because they are uncertain and they are unknown. So we wanna really anchor that. We have replaced like lions and tigers and bears with lawsuits in the IRS. They're just the same kinds of threats, but most of the time not ever even present. And so,

and, and certainly like even like when I say the same kinds of threats, I mean they, they create the same kind of scared emotion fear, but lawsuits and taxes are not gonna ever kill you. They can never take your life. Like the worst thing that's gonna happen is you might feel embarrassed, you might feel ashamed. And even those are based in the lies because it's coming back that I'm not good enough.

And what I do know is that every single one of us out there does the best that we can, Right? Nobody intentionally tries to hurt an animal or have a, a bad case outcome. So give yourself some credit there. You're never as bad as a client thinks you are. When they're mad at you, They're just frustrated because that's just their emotion,

right? They're, they're grieving or they're angry because it didn't turn out the way they wanted it to. So that whole idea is very normal. Anytime something doesn't go the way that we wanted it to go, we feel frustrated. We feel angry is something, you know, our pet dies unexpectedly. We grieve that and part of the grieving process is anger.

So it's all very normal what they're going through. And that sometimes it's, it's directed at us. It just sucks, but it's just part of the deal. That doesn't mean we have to accept what they say about us. That doesn't mean we have to take on responsibility for it at all. But when we do, when we believe that it is our fault,

when we believe that we could have done something to prevent the experience that we're going through, then what happens is that we overdo, We Try to prevent all the what if scenarios. And like I said already, that keeps us focused on the negative outcomes even if they aren't real, because it keeps us focused on the potential of the negative outcomes. And as we focus on the potential of a negative outcome,

we can't help but experience the negative emotion in the moment. So we are emotionally going through all of that, even though it has never happened in our lives. And we're also bu building this lie that we won't be able to take it. We won't be able to handle it or live through it if it does happen, which is also a lie. Go back to what is true.

You only have evidence of surviving every single challenge that you've ever been up against. So you wanna ask yourself a question, where are you living in the spectrum of emotion, day in and day out? You guys have heard me talk about the net emotional state. It's the same thing. Where are you? What's your average mood? Is it somewhere on the negative side or is it somewhere on the positive side?

And if you are landing in the negative side of the emotion, if you find yourself that your average mood, your average state of wellbeing is one of anxiety and stress and fear, Remind yourself I am living in a lie. I am living in a world created by lies. And ask yourself another question, what is my life like? If I let go of that?

What will my life be like if I just decide I am no longer going to spend my time thinking about what might happen and I'm gonna spend my time instead thinking about what is happening and what I can do today? Because That one little shift can make the biggest difference between experiencing your life and just getting through your life. It puts you back in control of how you feel every single day.

And it brings you back into the truth. The spectrum of emotion, the polarity of emotion is in play all the time. And there are times where we truly do feel negative emotion in a legitimate way. So when we are grieving over a loss, yeah, that's negative emotion. Could there be a lie in that though? Just think about that for a second.

If we are grieving and we are sad, why is that? What are we believing in those moments? We're believing they're gone forever. We're believing I'm never gonna see them again. We're believing I missed my chance to tell them X, y, Z. But then ask yourself, could there be a lie in that? Are we sure that's true? Now,

the answer to that question kind of takes us beyond the topic of this podcast today. But ask yourself those questions. Is that true? Can I prove it? Because when we start to think about it from a bigger perspective, Maybe it's not true. Maybe it's not as permanent as we think it is. And when we continue to focus on those aspects,

when someone or something moves on, passes on, then of course that grieving pro process and that sadness is gonna just hang on longer. But don't forget to ask yourself the question, is there a lie here? Because I think that if you'll start asking yourself that question, you're going to automatically open yourself up to a completely different perspective of things that you have just habitually looked at a very certain and concrete way.

And it really is the ability to shift our perspective, to take a step back, to look at a bigger picture, to ask a better question that helps us to change our experience of any situation. So as you go through this next week, I really want you to start to pay attention when you are feeling anything in the negative half of that spectrum of emotion.

And I want you to ask yourself the question, what lie am I believing here? Remember, everything on the negative spectrum is anchored in fear. Fear originated from the need to survive in the modern world. You are not in life-threatening danger 99.99% of the time, which means whatever is creating fear or some offshoot of that negative spectrum of emotion is likely based in something that's not true.

So just get curious and be compassionate with yourself and ask yourself, what am I believing in this situation that may not be true? I think you'll be surprised how many little threads of lies that you've built your life around just like I did. And as you start to let yourself cut those threads and focus on what is true and what is real and what is current,

the pressure starts to ease and every single day starts to get easier. All right, my friends, that's gonna wrap it up for this week. I'll see you next week. Bye for now.