The Difference Between Reperceiving and Avoidance
Typically when we avoid, we attempt to detach from an experience, often distancing to a point of numbness. We avoid in an attempt to remove ourselves from the unpleasantness of whatever is happening.
It makes sense why we do this. Our brain is evolutionarily wired to keep us safe. It encourages us to escape uncomfortable feelings and sensations. Regardless of what feelings we’re trying to avoid, whether it be pain, anxiety, or depression, the desire to escape is driven by a cycle of fear that limits our awareness and ultimately entangles us deeper into a pattern of suffering.
Instead of avoiding, we can learn to shift our perspective to witnessing instead of engaging. The practice is one of ‘reperceiving.’ It’s an exercise of elevated awareness that helps us gain the distance avoidance provides, without the build-up of negative affect and tension. Instead of intensifying future suffering through avoidance, reperceiving creates a shift to greater clarity.
We learn to change our relationship with the content of our thoughts, becoming an observer instead of an actor in our inner commentary. We become less controlled by particular emotions, and thereby less likely to act out maladaptive coping patterns that tend to perpetuate negative emotions. In a moment of distress, we can choose to escape the emotions through avoidance, or change our relationship to them through repreceiving.
Are you willing to become the observer and flip the script?
Feelings of discomfort are inevitable and the thought of running from them forever, is not only exhausting, but painful in itself.