Little Aversions

Trying to write a blog post every day has really hammered home the point that lots of times people don’t do things because there are little aversions in the way.

What is an aversion?

It’s something you want to avoid. Anything you want to avoid.

They seem to work on contamination models.

Garbage is aversive, so garbage in a bag is aversive. Garbage in a bag is aversive, so taking out the garbage is aversive. Going up the stairs with the intention of  taking out the garbage is aversive.

Talking about something I’m afraid of is aversive, so emailing someone to setup that talk is aversive too. Disagreeing with someone is aversive, so the topic that I might disagree with them on is aversive.

They seem to also block planning.

If I’m averse to a particular decision, and multiple things depend on that decision, then those multiple things don’t get decided on either.

A while ago, I was planning out my summer. I wanted the megameetup to work out, but I didn’t have a date for it. This stopped me from planning my Serbia trip. It also stopped me from planning what I should pack.

It almost seems as if aversions are marked on my brain’s planning search tree as dead ends. By default, aversions just aren’t moved past in a way that leads to actual thinking about what they entail.

This really sucks, because they build up.

I remember in 11th grade I was applying to something, and needed a teacher recommendation. I kind of didn’t want to ask for one (because it would inconvenience the teacher), so I put it off. Then it got later, and now the recommendation would be late, and really inconvenient. So I put it off. Until they did it the day of.

So how do you deal with an aversion?

First you notice that you have one. Aversions feel like they should be avoided, and unless I label them I tend towards avoiding them.

From there there’s a few things you can do about it. You can…

Power through it, if you want.

Connect with why you care about getting past the aversion in the first place.

Do the Stoic trick where you imagine what the aversion looks like, and noticing that you’re totally okay with it happening.

Become amused by it, and then power through it. For some reason, this helps me a lot. I guess I have software for doing slightly uncomfortable things that I find funny. A helpful visualization for me is imagining me smashing through aversions a la this scene from Gurren Lagann:

Seriously. Right now I want to go find some things that I’m afraid of and just go do them.


About atucker

Provisional pronouncements and (hopefully) honest mistakes. I'd like to be differently wrong about things, and helpful to the world.
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One Response to Little Aversions

  1. Shanna Mann says:

    I really like this. Similar to David Allen’s “incompletes,” but with more psychological insight.

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