Welcome to Feelings, a semi-regular gallery of popular culture GIFs, dedicated to a specific emotion. This week we have avoidance.
Avoiding places, people, or things is very tempting.
Avoidant behaviour can vary from putting off inconvenient or uncomfortable tasks, to arranging our entire lives to exclude the things that scare us. In the short-term, avoiding can feel really good. There's a certain relief and security in knowing we can opt out anxiety provoking situations, and there are times when it's absolutely ok and good to do this. Over time though, avoiding as a coping mechanism tends to reinforce the original memory or thought causing the anxiety (as is the case with specific phobias, PTSD, Complex PTSD, and other anxiety disorders). When our thought pattern or experience of a thing is limited to 'BAD', there is little opportunity to introduce the ideas of 'SAFE', or 'OK, I GUESS'. Our brains can be very good at hiding things from us; we can be so skilled at avoiding that we become unaware of our fears. This makes what we're avoiding even more confronting when we're suddenly presented with a situation we cannot avoid.
Avoidance is also common among people with perfectionist tendencies. Although we tend to associate perfectionism with productivity and high levels of achievement, people with perfectionist tendencies have unrealistic and unrelenting standards, which make the possibility of 'failure' (completing a task imperfectly), too frightening to engage with.
If you're feeling avoidant, it can be helpful to work backwards by asking why; sometimes things are not about what we think they're about. If we can't make sense of our fears, talking to friends and seeking professional help are good ideas.
For a little loving encouragement, here is Facebook sensation Birb (a birb), reflecting on procrastination as avoidant behaviour. As Birb gently says, 'you can only do a win if you do a try'.
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