The tendency to avoid problems is the root of mental illness

tendency to avoid pain on good mental health.info

Last week we announced the GMH book club pick, The Road Less Traveled, for the month of January and have been reading voraciously since.

Time management and personal value

“If we feel ourselves valuable, then we will feel our time to be valuable, and if we feel our time to be valuable, then we will want to use it well.”

For someone who has struggled with time management over the years, this idea was revolutionary for me. As children, if we are not valued by our parents, then later by our peers, we learn to not value ourselves. Time is a reflection of our life force being expended on this planet. If we don’t use our time wisely, if we don’t expend our energy wisely, we are quite literally wasting ourselves and wasting our lives.

Many of us, growing up in the manner that we did, were trained to be seen and not heard. Need nothing, ask for nothing, and learn to be satisfied with whatever was given. As a result, we learned to stuff our feelings right along with our needs, both physical and emotional.

It’s not a huge surprise that, as adults, we have trouble managing our time. When we are trained to never put our desires first, we lose track of who we are, what we want, and what is most important to us. We relinquish our power to other people.  We allow others to determine the course of our day. We allow the words and deeds of other people to control our thoughts and feelings because we aren’t in control of ourselves.

When we value ourselves more, we value our time more. We become more intentional about how we fill our minutes, our days, and our lives.

Why would any of us waste one single second of our precious life? Why would we procrastinate or put off doing the things we have been called to do? We wouldn’t. Once we realize that we have a certain number of days to be alive, a certain number of breaths to take, we will stop wasting them.

This is sort of the gift of mid-life. At forty, we realize we’re statistically half way through this race and we begin to feel the compulsion to do more, be more, live more. We begin to value our precious life force, knowing that our tank has become only half full.

Anxiety, depression, and procrastination

Wasting our precious life force leads to anxiety and depression.

Aggression is anger turned outward, toward other people. Depression is anger turned inward, toward ourselves.

Lack of fulfillment creates anxiety and depression because we become angry with ourselves for wasting our lives. We become angry at ourselves for procrastinating and never doing the things we want to do, never accomplishing the things we want to accomplish.

I look back over the years and realize how much I’ve put off, how much I’ve procrastinated. I remember all the years I suffered while not living my life’s purpose. I was miserable. Not because I had a bad life, but because I was living MY life badly.

Most of us want to accomplish enough to fill 5 lifetimes. Yet we waste so much of this one precious life that we have.

Coming up with excuse after excuse as to why we can’t fulfill our dreams, we create our own mental anguish.

What if we could alleviate anxiety and depression by simply giving ourselves permission to try the things we want to try and do the things we need to do? Instead of coming up with excuses why not, what if we could heal ourselves and our lives simply by expressing our soul’s purpose?

The tendency to avoid problems is the root of mental illness

“The tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering inherent in them is the primary basis of all human mental illness. Since most of us have this tendency to a greater or lesser degree, most of us are mentally ill to a greater or lesser degree.”

In my coaching and counseling practice, I am well acquainted with folks who have “personality disorders.” These disorders are extremely challenging, and often require the treatment of those affected by the person with the personality disorder as opposed to the patient themselves.

The common thread among those who have developed a personality disorder is their inability to take responsibility for their problems, their decisions, and the way their lives are playing out. Instead, they blame other people, circumstances, or institutions for the predicaments they’re in.

I think we’d all agree, no one wants to suffer. But problems, no matter how big or small, are meant to teach us valuable lessons. It’s through these lessons that our souls grow, expand, and evolve.

The only way to learn these lessons is to face our problems head on; and when we face our problems head on, we accept the fact that we will have to feel the pain that comes along with dealing with that problem. Because growth occurs outside of our comfort zones. 

In an effort to avoid feeling the pain, we avoid the problem. The patterns that arise from these problem-avoidance behaviors become the problem instead, and look like many of the mental disorders we see today.

Wouldn’t it be better to just deal with the original problem?

Instead of creating layers of problems we later identify as “mental illness?”

I vote YES!

Wrap Up

Are you enjoying this book? What are your thoughts on time management, procrastination, and the root of mental illness? Today we barely scratched the surface of section 1, so please share your thoughts and keep the conversation going! Inspiration and self-actualization abound in these pages.

This coming week we’ll continue reading The Road Less Traveled, moving on to section 2 called, “Love.”

Make sure to join us on our Facebook and Instagram pages to join the discussion there as well, and if you still need a copy of the book, you can grab one at the link below:

As always, if you found this information helpful, please share it. And if you feel you are in the exact right place and would like access to more resources and guidance, read more about Good Mental Health and join us on Facebook.

Disclosure: this page may contain affiliate links.

Read more about the GMH Book Club. 

Diana B
Find me at:

Diana B

Diana Baker, MSW, is a registered clinical social work intern, mental health counselor and wellness coach. With 20 years' experience working with children and families, she provides mental health counseling in St. John's, Florida. Offering individual and family counseling for children, teens, and adults; face to face, and via video chat and text. For more information, visit goodmentalhealth.info/about
Diana B
Find me at:

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