an example of avoidance

Yesterday my boss asked me to go downtown today to pick up some tax documents at the state’s local field office. I didn’t think they could provide the documents, but I didn’t have the nerve or desire to argue with him so I reluctantly agreed.

I’ve had to go to this field office a few times before. Each time, I’ve had to endure a rather difficult social situation because the receptionist is very attractive and socially adept. In other words, she’s beautiful and perfect, and I’m not. These thoughts happen in a split second and ensure that I will fail. Now, CBT has taught me to catch these thoughts before they happen, to counter them with positive, rational thoughts. But this never seems to happen quick enough. I sum up that she’s perfect and place her on a pedestal before my rational mind has a chance to kick in–and I’m left playing catch up.

Anyhow, earlier I started having anticipatory anxiety about the situation: Not only would I have to face this perfect being but I also don’t feel comfortable asking for the documents since I don’t think they could provide them. And so, I started coming up with ways to get out of going–

  1. I could lie to my boss by telling him that I went and that they either didn’t have the documents or couldn’t give them to me.
  2. I could call in sick.
  3. I could call the tax office to see if they could even provide the documents.

The third choice seemed the most logical, but I’m terrified of making phone calls, especially when I have time to think about what I’m going to say beforehand, so I wanted to do the first choice. Eventually though, I talked myself into calling, which was horrible in itself, but I found that I was right: They couldn’t give me the documents after all.

I’m now beating myself up, telling myself that it wasn’t that bad and I shouldn’t have been fretting about the situation at all. I’m also disappointed in myself for avoiding another social situation.

Why can’t I look at the good parts? I mean, I made the phone call even though I was terrified and obtained an answer without lying. Those are positives, I guess.

If I’m not perfect then I’m nothing at all.

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9 responses to “an example of avoidance

  1. I go through these same sort of issues at times as well. You didn’t exactly avoid a social situation. The phone is still a social situation, just not one where you see the person you’re talking to.

    I can relate to the perfection part as well, but no one is ever perfect, Mike. I know I don’t need to tell you that, but if you’re always comparing yourself to the “perfect” person you imagine you must be, you will ALWAYS be disappointed.

    I think it’s good that you can see the positives in the situation. That says a lot about how you are able to step outside the situation and see it for what it is and not just what it isn’t.

    • I understand all to well that when I compare myself to others I always find flaws in myself. Logically, I know this doesn’t serve me. But, what’s maddening is that the behavior has been with me for so long and it’s so ingrained, that I automatically go with it. Changing that behavior is difficult. I have to be on top of my game at all times, in order for me to counter that voice–in another way, I have to be perfect.

  2. Even though you’re being hard on yourself, I still think you did well to make the phone call. I know I struggle with making calls.

  3. It’s a good example of SA avoidance Mike. It is good that you recognize it. I chuckled at your ‘perfect being’…a receptionist? Sure, she was picked for the job for her looks and social skills…I bet you’re five times as smart as she is though. And a better writer. Do you think she maybe has a boyfriend who drinks too much, and a sick mother, and diabetes on top of that which she is having trouble managing? Could be…we don’t know what is beneath the surface with people…often a lot of pain and trouble that they take great pains to hide.

    I think trying to manage all your thoughts with CBT is a doomed enterprise frankly…just one more reason to feel bad. CBT is OK if it helps, but after that, it’s not much use IMO.

    Hope you’re doing OK.

    • I am doing much better, thanks. Yes, I think it just goes to show that comparing how I feel on the inside to how someone looks on the outside is completely pointless–and illogical.

  4. AWESOMEEEE JOBBB ONNN MAKINGGG THEE PHONEE CALLLL (: I mean you could have just not made the call at all & avoided any type of interaction. But look at you branching out and picking up that phone.

    What is your view of perfection?

  5. Thanks! I guess I view everybody other than myself as perfect. I know that sounds absurd, and logically I know it is. However, in the midst of anxiety, I always compare myself to others and I always find a reason where they are superior to me–and thus perfect. At least I’m aware of this, I guess. That’s the first step to change.

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