The Law of Avoidance

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    106 people had breakthroughs this week. Will the next one be you?

    Three things for you to think about

    Manson’s Law of Avoidance: “The more something threatens your identity, the more you will avoid it.”

    You will avoid negative things that threaten your identity like failure, loss, and rejection. But you will also avoid positive things that threaten your identity—even things like success, love, and happiness.

    The healthiest identity is a flexible identity. The best answer to the question, “Who am I?” is always “I don’t know; let’s find out.”

    Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

    One thing for you to ask yourself

    In what areas of your life are you rigid about your identity? Chances are, these are the same areas in your life that generate the most stress and conflict.

    Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

    One thing for you to try this week

    Experiment with being wrong about yourself for a week. Maybe you actually do like to cook, even though you think you don’t. Maybe you aren’t such a good friend, even though you think you are. Maybe you actually would be good at learning a language, if you really tried.

    We tend to be most rigid in our identities in areas that we’ve been hurt the most. People who grow up in poverty tend to have the most inflexible views on money and wealth. People who grow up unattractive tend to have the most rigid views about appearance. These rigid views about ourselves and the world helped us survive at one point, but when held onto for too long, they eventually hold us back.

    Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. Reply to this email and let me know how it went for you.

    Last week’s breakthroughs

    In last week’s newsletter, I asked you to act as though a limitation you’ve bought into about yourself is wrong.

    Mandy went all-in and sent a long list of self-imposed limitations she’s trying to free herself from. See if you recognize any in yourself:

    This newsletter was perfectly timed. This weekend I listed out the lies I’ve been believing. No single person has ever said any of these to me. They exist only in my thoughts, then affect my actions. This week I’ll try to act as if they all are false beliefs!

    • I’m not good enough to be successful.
    • I don’t know everything I’ll need to know.
    • I’m not pretty enough to be successful.
    • My body is not in the shape it needs to be to be a PT.
    • I won’t be taken seriously without a bachelor’s degree.
    • I’m not funny and happy go lucky anymore.
    • I’m no longer relevant.
    • The height of my working career has already been reached.
    • I don’t have enough time in the day.
    • I’ll never have community again.
    • I won’t be able to show my personality to clients.
    • I can’t be authentically me.
    • My skin will never be beautiful.
    • I won’t be an effective communicator to clients.
    • I’ll never be able to give family my all due to work.

    One note, while it’s a great exercise to list out all the ways you hold yourself back, it’s best to attack them 1-2 at a time. Change of any sort takes a lot of mental and emotional energy and we only have so much. Better to focus on one thing, nail it, then use the momentum from that to roll into the next thing, nail that, and on and on.

    Meanwhile, another reader is building a healthy habit they had thought was impossible:

    Last week out with some friends, I was explaining how I always wished I had picked up a running habit, but my lung capacity was shot from the years of cigarette smoking and then vaping in the attempt to quit.

    I know I don’t have the best cardio fitness, and I’ve used that excuse to not even attempt running. Too scared of failure, as you said. Too scared to attempt the steeper hikes my boyfriend wants to try. Too scared of the supposed ‘ridicule’ I’d face from being not even 30 and winded at any attempt to push myself outside of my cardio comfort zone.

    The friend I was out with suggested ‘how about just jog, at any pace, for a half mile for 14 days straight?’ And then he offered to buy the next round next time we’re out (he knows a good incentive).

    I started. I have done it seven days in a row. I get winded by the end, but it feels so good to accomplish every day. It’s more than I’ve done since my days in college, and I’m so happy we made that bet. I can see this being a habit I stick to and continue to improve, gradually maybe, but time will pass either way, whether I go for my little run or don’t.

    Finally, even perfection can be a self-limitation, as this reader discovered:

    I had been meaning to list my pottery for sale for a while (years, actually) but it had to be ‘perfect’ for the online listing pictures. I figured I needed to spend hours cleaning it up.

    Nope, I snapped pictures of it and listed it for the full price and sold it within hours. A lady drove four hours one way to hand me cash for it. The whole process took minutes. Pictures, listing, loading it into her car.

    Perfect is my kryptonite. Perfect is the enemy of done.

    As always, send your breakthroughs by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

    Until next week,

    Mark Manson

    #1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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