• Emily Stetzer / 0 comments

5 Things You Should Know About Avoidance Behavior

We're all guilty of avoiding things. But, sometimes, the best way to deal with something that we don't want to deal with is to, well... deal with it. In a healthy & effective way, of course. (We'll get to that).

To kick things off, here's a list of things I tend to avoid, myself (and continue to try to face head-on):

Sad songs

Sad movies (usually the ones that are about regular people, mostly involving a disease of some kind.)

Wearing clothing that I associate with a bad experience

Going to bed (I believe they call this bedtime procrastination)

Responding to texts (still unclear as to the reason behind avoiding this, if anyone has an idea please do share in the comments 😅)


    Here are five key things to understand about Avoidance Behavior:


    1. Quick Fix, Short-Term Relief:

      Avoidance provides temporary relief from distress. Dodging triggers can make us feel better momentarily, but it's like putting a band-aid on a wound that needs stitches—it doesn't address the root problem.

      For example, skipping a social event because of social anxiety might ease immediate stress, but it reinforces the fear of socializing, making it harder to face similar situations in the future.

    2. The Avoidance Cycle:

      Avoiding things we fear just makes those fears stronger. It's like skipping the gym because you feel out of shape, only to feel worse about your fitness level later. Avoidance reinforces the belief that we can't handle the situation, keeping us stuck in a loop.

      For instance, avoiding difficult conversations with a partner might alleviate discomfort momentarily, but it perpetuates the fear of conflict, making future discussions even more daunting.

    3. Daily Life Takes a Hit:

      Dodging challenges might seem like a smart move, but it comes at a cost. Avoidance can mess with our jobs, relationships, and personal growth. It's like refusing to drive because you're scared of accidents—you'll never get anywhere.

      For example, avoiding public speaking opportunities at work might offer short-term relief from anxiety, but it limits career advancement and professional development in the long run.

    4. Fueling Anxiety:

      Avoidance feeds anxiety by preventing us from confronting our fears. It's like trying to put out a fire by ignoring it—it just keeps burning. By avoiding what scares us, we miss out on chances to learn that we can handle tough situations.

      For instance, avoiding flying because of a fear of turbulence only reinforces the belief that flying is dangerous, making it harder to overcome the fear.

    5. Breaking Free:

      The first step to breaking the avoidance cycle is recognizing it. Techniques like exposure therapy and changing our thought patterns can help us face our fears gradually. It's like learning to swim by dipping your toes first—we take small steps to build confidence and resilience.

      For example, gradually exposing oneself to heights through controlled experiences, such as standing on a low balcony, can help overcome a fear of heights over time.


    The best reminders to help break the cycle of Avoidance Behavior:

    1. Brave the uncomfortable

    2. Embrace uncertainty


        Still not sure if you use Avoidance Behavior as a coping mechanism? Here are some more examples:


        1. Procrastinating or avoiding tasks at work or school to escape feelings of overwhelm or fear of failure.

        2. Steering clear of places, people, or situations that remind you of past trauma or evoke feelings of anxiety or distress.

        3. Neglecting doctor's appointments, medical tests, or exercise routines due to fear of receiving bad news or discomfort.

        4. Avoiding emotional or physical intimacy in relationships to protect oneself from vulnerability or fear of rejection.

        5. Putting off making important decisions or delegating decision-making to others to avoid the anxiety or responsibility associated with making choices.

        6. Avoiding seeking feedback or constructive criticism at work or in personal relationships to protect one's ego or self-esteem.

        7. Refraining from trying new activities, hobbies, or challenges due to fear of the unknown or fear of failure.

        8. Suppressing or avoiding expressing emotions such as sadness, anger, or fear to maintain a sense of control or avoid discomfort.


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