How to Be Happier by Avoiding Your Fears


I’m a bit of a kamikaze when it comes to happiness – and life in general, really. My instinct is to power through my fears, attack my insecurities, and figure out how to handle my issues.

Sometimes being an action hero of happiness is kind of dumb.

Like, for instance, when I try to do something about my feelings. My therapist had to remind me constantly that “the only thing you can do with feelings is feel them.” I always hated that answer. When I discovered that I had pain about my childhood or anger or fear or anything bad, I immediately wanted to know how to fix myself.

“OK, so what do we do about this now?” I would ask.

“The only thing you can do with feelings is feel them,” she would say, and I would mentally give her the finger.

But she was right. Of course she was. And the funny thing – the part she didn’t tell me right away – is that letting yourself feel feelings is actually the best way to fix… er… move past them.

Recently I’ve discovered that avoiding feelings might also be a plausible option.

Now, just about everything I’ve ever written suggests the exact opposite. The action hero of happiness recommends facing down fears and embracing your feelings. Onward! Upward! Forward! Through! I imagine an army of us bravely charging through the battlefield of personal growth.

I’ve been trying to do just that lately with my own angst about money. And, in the process, I’ve been getting myself all tangled up worrying about selling a book and doing more public speaking and earning more of an income and how many books do I need to sell to break even? The dollars and cents mess me up hard, and that makes it really difficult to write and speak and connect with people from a place of authenticity.

A friend of mine, a life coach who is giving me free coaching in exchange for letting him record the sessions, suggested that maybe I could just stop worrying about how many books equals how many months of rent and just focused on the part that I believe in: the message about taking ownership of your happiness.

“But everyone says you have to have specific goals to be successful in business,” I said.

“So what,” he said.

“Can I just not worry about the money part?” I asked.

“Are you a happiness expert asking me if you can stop doing something that doesn’t make you happy?”

“I knew you were going to say that.”

Maybe we don’t always have to be charging through our issues. Maybe sometimes the best choice we can make for ourselves is to accept where our walls are, at least for a little while.

The truth is that blasting through fears takes work. It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting, and it requires a personal investment. I feel like there are times when that investment might be better made somewhere else – like in fueling our passion for helping people.

Facing our fears and pushing beyond our comfort zones are two awesome ways to be happier. But, so is acceptance. Sometimes that means just accepting what you’re afraid of or what you’re struggling with and deciding to stay the hell away from it for the moment.

Do you avoid anything in order to be happier?

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  1. daniel says:

    I’m very afraid of spiders. I’m much happier avoiding them. Okay, that’s not really what you’re trying to get at. The relationship I have, or don’t have, with my mother, I think that’s an emotional mess that I’m much happier avoiding. Healthy? In the long run, no, and eventually that will change, but right now I’m happy avoiding her.
    daniel’s most recent post: My Birthday

    • Miss Britt says:

      (I responded this through my WordPress app but it didn’t show up here – my apologies if you get this twice!)

      Some people would, I think, advocate you trying to overcome a fear of spiders – so that’s actually a pretty good example! :-)

  2. Poppy says:

    Yes. I avoid people who are toxic to me in order to remain happy. It’s a coping mechanism. I can’t change them. I haven’t figured out how to have them in my life at a safe distance. So, avoidance for now.
    Poppy’s most recent post: protect

    • Miss Britt says:

      I do this too, especially on social media. There are some boundaries that I know are difficult for me to enforce right now, so I don’t push them and stay away from people who will.

  3. Shana Norris says:

    Yes! It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve always had a very real and haunting fear of death. It’s something that I just have to avoid thinking about or it makes me a little crazy.

    There is an element of action that needs to happen associated with this fear: I need to be living my life in the best way possible, being present, seizing the moment, etc. etc. etc. but I actually just cannot let myself think about the specific fear.

    So yes, I get you on this point!
    Shana Norris’s most recent post: The Best Book You’ve Never Heard Of

    • Miss Britt says:

      I do this too, especially on social media. There are some boundaries that I know are difficult for me to enforce right now, so I don’t push them and stay away from people who will.

    • Miss Britt says:

      Let’s try this again -

      I have a fear of Jared or the kids having… something really bad happen. I have to shut those thoughts down when they come up because I just CAN’T. I use those triggers to remind me to soak up their presence now.

      In other words: I get it. I really do. Doesn’t sound crazy at all to me!

  4. Sarah says:

    This is an interesting perspective. The usual message is that we have to confront our fears, feelings etc, but I agree this masochistic approach can actually prove counter-productive at times. I think the answer lies in being more in tune with ourselves and knowing what our limitation are.
    Sarah’s most recent post: Determining if Panic Away is Right for You

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