The Ostrich Syndrome: A simple exercise

Definition

“If ignore it, it’ll go away”

“I’ll just pretend it didn’t happen”

“I’d rather avoid it than face it”

These are all avoidance symptoms, which allow individuals to escape from a particular situation. It is very normal for us, as humans, to run away from our fears and concerns. Everything that doesn’t feel comfortable is our queue to escape and hide, burying our face under the ground, just like an ostrich, thus the name.

Avoidance can be comforting sometimes, but applying this attitude on a daily basis, can be destructive rather than useful, causing further stress and anxiety. Therefore, the situation is aggravated rather than solved.
In her article about this syndrome, Kim Morgan gives the example of an overweight woman who was asked about how she ended up this way. Her answer was straight to the point, yet shocking. She replied, “Very slowly”.

This is a perfect example that shows how dangerous it is to ignore every day choices and keep hiding away, ignoring them and living our lives as if they had no impact on us. Every choice we take has another consequence; every decision can be life altering. You have to face these consequences in order to move forward and induce change.

 

The exercise

It’s all about thinking if a certain behavior is taking you closer to where you want to be.

The exercise below was proposed by coach Kim Morgan

First, you sit facing two empty chairs with a certain behavior that you would like to change in mind.

Imagine three years have passed.

The person on the first chair is you, in three years time, still doing the same behavior, without any improvement or change.

  • How does this future you look?
  • What is she saying?
  • What do you think and feel about her?
  • How has this behavior defined her life?

Now, look at the other chair, that’s the future you, three years from now, who has successfully adopted and implemented the change in behavior. Ask yourself the same questions listed above.

Now get up, and sit in that chair, the chair of the successful version of you. And from that perspective, imagine you are talking to yourself today, and write some advice down.

  • What are the steps you need to take?
  • What are the benefits of making that change?
  • I know you can do it because you…

 

You have to become aware of your behavior before aiming to change it. Make a list of these avoidance behaviors (not eating healthy, making excuses, pretending, etc.), share them with someone you trust and ask them to mention to you whenever they see you using any of them.

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