I often explore the term ‘avoidance’ with my clients during the course of therapy.
What is avoidance you ask? The dictionary definition of avoidance is ‘the action of keeping away from or not doing something.’ The psychological definition refers to choosing your behaviour based on trying to avoid or escape particular thoughts or feelings.
For example, one may get angry and aggressive because one feels rejected or no longer in control. One may withdraw and become passive because one feels threatened. One may procrastinate and become anxious because one doesn’t feel what they will produce will be good enough. Avoidant behaviour stops us from acting in line with how we values ourselves.
Avoidance is never helpful and can only lead to suffering. It serves to crush one’s confidence, worth and self-esteem.
In order to avoid the fears from surfacing, avoidant behaviours can take over and play havoc in one’s life. It may be fear of failure, of criticism, of punishment, of abandonment, of death, of illness, of rejection and the list goes on and on.
An easy to remember acronym is CRAP. What is the fear that feeds into your avoidance?
C – Fear of Criticism
R – Fear of Rejection
A – Fear of Abandonment
P – Fear of Punishment
We are all human and from time to time can be subject to the above as life brings its myriad of unpleasant thoughts, feelings and sensations. No doubt pain is inevitable from this; however, suffering needn’t always follow.
Thankfully there is a way out of this suffering. When clients increase their insight, awareness and develop resilience in the presence of fear, the natural by-product is a valued life which makes room for a sense of wellbeing and freedom.