Friday, November 12, 2010

Why We Don’t Prepare, Part Two

From my October 29 blog, we now know that PROCRASTINATION is the proverbial ball and chain around the ankles of those who know they need to do something, but, well, never really get around to it. Part Two of this double-edged sword is equally harmful, but also “curable.”

AVOIDANCE BEHAVIOR. n. A conscious or unconscious defense mechanism by which a person tries to escape from unpleasant situations or feelings, such as anxiety and pain. [1]

Avoidance behavior simply keeps us from doing what we need to do. This is not just putting something off until later. This is completely ignoring its existence. And the problem with this behavior is that it is “self-reinforcing.” According to psychologist Dr. Russell A. Dewey [2], we avoid things we don’t like to experience, which means that we avoid bad feelings and then feel good about not dealing with the bad, which reinforces the avoidance and.... well, you see how the dog chases its tail. It’s called “escape learning” and every one of us does this to some degree.

The good news is that there are some pretty basic steps we can all take to tackle this destructive behavior head-on and with relatively little pain. In my search to find some background information, however, I Googled “avoiding unpleasant things” and was momentarily thrown off track by a topic on “Avoiding Unpleasant Encounters: Backcountry Bear Basics,” [3], and “Tips on Avoiding Unpleasant Surprises in your Pancakes!” [4] – exclamation mark theirs, not mine, with an announcement that “Pancake Day is nearly upon us.” Who knew?

From [5], I found “Strategies that can help you stop avoiding the things you don’t want to do.” These simple yet brilliant ideas were:

1. Find something you want to do even less
LOVED this one. I am quite sure we can find many things we’d rather not do than start putting together your family’s disaster kit. Share your lists with friends. Could be fun!
2. Break down the task in smaller parts
Something I had suggested in my earlier messages. Step by step, you can do little things. It is just important to keep going once you have started.
3. Reward Yourself
Treat yourself to a cup of frozen yogurt or a new book after you finally get your important contact information and instructions to all of your family members. Make a list of rewards for future milestones.
4. Set A Time Limit
Yes! Even if you spent 10 minutes a week on disaster preparedness, that is the same time spent on an easy level of Sudoku and much more worthwhile. And in a year’s time, you will have devoted over 8 hours getting prepared!
5. Keep Focused On What Is Important
Put up a photo of your family, your dog, your next year’s vacation spot – whatever it takes to remind you that you need to keep working on emergency readiness so you will survive and recover. They all depend on what you do today.
6. Sue’s Addition: Remember that all this preparedness stuff is a positive thing.
You will rest better at night knowing that you will come out of any disaster in good shape. You will have prepared yourself, your family, your car and home for the worst.

So don’t avoid that proud smile and a pat on the back for being prepared. Enjoy it. You deserve it.

1] []


3] Backcountry Bear Basics: The Definitive Guide to Avoiding Unpleasant Encounters by David Smith



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