Your Mental and Emotional Warrant-of-Fitness #6 Avoidance

(A Warrant-of-Fitness is the New Zealand equivalent of an M.O.T. in the UK, being a certificate to say your vehicle is road worthy.)

Nature hates a void, a vacuum.

I am a lover of words, a logophile, and when I found this name for “a lover of words”, I was delighted!

I love playing with words, sometimes digging into their history and origin, which can be very illuminating.

I also love punchy one-liners that are deep and I thought that, “Nature hates a void” warranted some closer attention.

And, of course, me being a counsellor and me just being me, I see things through the mental health lens.

So, I did a bit of research into, “Nature hates a void”, a principle which I see alive and well in my garden – not long after I’ve cleared a space of weeds they are replaced with their relatives, and also, I see this being played out in the garden of my mind.

A vacuum does not exist in nature. Perhaps that’s why I love nature so much, it has so much it can teach us.

So here are a few of my ramblings, plus a mighty (well I think it is) revelation about some related words to the word “void”. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed discovering these rich treasures, which as is the case with many words, are there for the mining if you dig a little deeper into some delicious words!

I believe the saying “Nature hates a void” can be attributed to the people below. Some attribute the saying to Aristotle. Either way, it is rich with meaning and interpretation. (I am open to correction though at all times.)

“Natura abhorret vacuum”, Francis Rabelais (1530).

Restated by Galileo Galilie in early 17th century.

Another translation says, “Horror vacui”, literally meaning “the fear of the void”.

Abhorrent and horror are pretty strong words to describe this dreaded place, called the “void”.

Some synonyms below are my own words, others the thesaurus provided.

A void: a space, a gap, a hollow, a vacuum, something is missing, vacant, invalid, empty, barren, desolate, abyss

Null and void: non-existent, cancelled, of no consequence, abolished, revoked

(Have you ever felt “null and void”? I know I have and it is a consequence of neglect.)

Avoid: to steer clear of at any cost, keep at arm’s length (This is the stuff addictions are made of)

Avoidance: the act of avoiding something, evasion, delay, prevention

In emotional terms, avoidance is something often used to avoid something painful, memories, feelings or experiences, traumatic events one would rather forget, although we all know (don’t we?) that feelings don’t magically disappear because we don’t want to experience them, don’t give them permission to be present or judge them as bad and “should not have”.

Instead, they get pushed down, submerged, repressed, only to turn up later with more force (or sneakily as passive-aggressive behaviour) or they present as a physical or psychological illness. Think ‘dis-ease’. By the way, where do you think the word depression comes from? Depression: what are you depressing/holding down? Emotions are energy that needs to go somewhere. Think ‘e-motion’, energy in motion.

For many of us, adult children of alcoholics, for example, avoiding was a way of keeping ourselves safe, a self-protective strategy, survival. Now, as adults we have more options. What was once our fortress may now be our prison.

A-void-dance: The antics we perform in order to avoid the void because we are too scared what’ll surface, what we’ll feel, or we fear being overwhelmed, annihilated by whatever is in there if we let it be present.

The dance you do to avoid your feelings.

A-void-dance’s dance partner is denial. Not only do we avoid our feelings or fear facing the dreaded abyss of a void, we deny it’s very existence. “She’ll be right mate”, is a classic kiwi (colloquial term for New Zealander) blokey attitude that creates a real hurdle for men struggling with mental health because it’s seen as a weakness.

What are YOU avoiding?

What is your style of a-void-dance?

Do you…. Keep yourself busy, occupied with trivia, your phone, FB etc.?

Do you…. Overwork, believing ‘busy’ or ‘productive’ is good, highly prized, commendable?


© Karen Lighthouse 2022


Thanks for reading and take care until next time.

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Words by Karen Lighthouse.

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3 thoughts on “Your Mental and Emotional Warrant-of-Fitness #6 Avoidance

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