Are You Being Avoidant?
What if I were to tell you that an avoidance coping style was the single biggest obstacle to your future success in any area of your life?
Would you want to know more about it? If you talk about avoidance or avoidance coping styles, most people tend to think you’re just talking about procrastination. But we’re talking about something much, much larger than that.
Avoidance tends to create stress and anxiety, and really interferes with your self-confidence. It is one of the key factors that is present in virtually all elements of depression, anxiety, eating disorders, compulsions, and addiction. It’s the one thing that isn’t present in people who don’t do any of these things.
What is an avoidance coping style?
- Taking Action: If you lean towards being avoidant around taking any actions that might trigger some sort of painful memory from the past, like putting up your hand during a class because it takes you back to a memory from school.
- Being Invisible: You may also try to stay under the radar, invisible. We often fear being noticed and maybe being judged.
- Checking in with Others: People who run a pattern of avoidance tends to use very few examples to justify their thought process. They tend to avoid shaking their thoughts against the external world, so they don’t reality test.
- Being Challenged by Conflict: Avoiding the potential of people being angry or annoyed with them, so they don’t set boundaries. They don’t challenge. They become people-pleasers. They may have a lot of anxiety around rejection or failure. They often try to avoid experiencing other people being angry. And as a result, they end up causing anger because they avoid telling someone something.
- Working Towards a Goal: Others will have a tendency to stop working on a goal when anxiety-provoking thoughts comes up. So when things get difficult, they hunker down, they avoid, they start walking because the risk is trying to be creative, that they may not be able to finish or do it the way they want. They, very rarely, accept that these sorts of thoughts are part of the course when going for difficult a goal.
- Feelings of Awkwardness: They might also avoid feeling awkward, so they don’t want to have conversations that are challenging. They don’t want to deal with consequences so they avoid any awkwardness whatsoever. As a result, they’re not good at handling their emotions because they’ve not practiced them.
- Starting Tasks: Others will avoid starting a task because they don’t know if they can really finish it. If they don’t have all the steps, if they’re not quite sure of the logical step, they tend to not take any action whatsoever. So they’re much more likely to produce more rumination than anything else.
- Uncomfortable with Physical Sensations: Some will also avoid experiencing uncomfortable physical sensations, like panic attacks or the discomfort that comes from starting an exercise routine. They don’t know how to ignore and override the physical discomfort to achieve the end result.
- Social Anxiety: And lastly, they might avoid entering into situations that may trigger thoughts like, “I’m not the best or I’m not as good as other people.” So, rather than deal with their own self-worth, they’ll struggle and avoid social situations and comparisons. So they’ll hold themselves back, might even present with something that’s akin to a social phobia. They’ll avoid things or places or exercises or activities where they’re not particularly strong.
Try the quiz and discover if you are avoidant:
When you’ve had a task to do, do you tend to:
- Break it down into chunks and schedule your time evenly or roughly evenly from the time of the task being assigned to the task being delivered.
- Leave it to the last minute and do it light.
If you have a situation that is potentially risky, and could also be quite rewarding if you were to complete it; would you tend to
- Go for it, focusing on the possibilities.
- Let it go until the advantages significantly outweigh the disadvantages which, in some cases, never really happen?
Have you ever been in a job or relationship that was no longer really right for you? Did you:
- Make a clear decision and take action to either improve it and do all you could to change it quickly and painlessly.
- Put up with it for a period of time and eventually get to the point where you just couldn’t take it anymore?
When you had a band-aid on a wound. Did you:
- Tend to take them off, fast, to deal with the pain.
- Want to pull it off fast but were reluctant to deal with that sudden pain so you slowly and gently tried to pull the band-aid off little bit by little bit to avoid the worst of the pain but in actual fact, elongate the whole process?
If you answered 2 to all four or to most of these, then avoidance is probably an issue for you.
So why do I place so much importance to this cognitive pattern. Well, firstly, if you tend to be avoidant, you’re going to avoid risk and spend way too much time considering the negative consequences of any action. Typically, you’ll:
- Need to be pushed pretty hard to start something of your own.
- Not be an entrepreneur.
- Not create your own structure.
- Lean towards catastrophizing and overthinking things
- Tend to lean towards pessimism, the glass half-empty syndrome.
- Use a negative filtering system, a bias to look for the problem in the solution.
- Find it hard to make a distinction between the real risk out there in the real world and the risk we create in our own head.
- Tend to amplify the risk considerably and then struggle to be goal-oriented
- Tend to settle for less rewarding but ultimately safer options.
- Allow problems to fester and grow.
- Allow the unknowns and the pressure to build.
All of these things you do forms a vicious circle because the more stressed you are, the more avoidant you become, and the more avoidant you become, the more stressed you are.
What happens when we continually avoid things?
The more you avoid things, the more you build up a history of non-completion. And eventually, your brain tends to ignores any protest to act because the pattern you have established is to not act.
The more you build up a history of being unreliable, the more you keep telling yourself you’re going to do something and then you don’t, the more you, at an unconscious level, won’t bother. Your mind will let it go and eventually, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Once that pattern has been established which is early in childhood, it doesn’t change throughout your life unless you go out there and change it deliberately.
Avoidance makes you someone who focuses very much on security. Security doesn’t buy you success. Security isn’t the pathway to achieving. The more you have a need to be safe, as a general rule, the more mediocre you’ll be because it takes so much longer for you to do everything. You typically act light and have to get to the point where it’s so uncomfortable before acting, that it’s more uncomfortable to not take an action than it is to take an action.
Success requires taking massive action
The world doesn’t care what you think. The world doesn’t respond to your thoughts. The truth is:
- The world responds to your actions. You want to influence the world around you? Sitting around and thinking about it won’t do anything.
- You need knowledge.
- You need skills.
- But most of all, you need to execute.
- Focus on what you want, target what you want, and then set a pathway to getting there.
How can we use NLP to break the pattern?
- You can’t get what you want by avoiding what you don’t.
- You can’t have that wonderful relationship if your dominant focus is to avoid the types of relationships you have in the past.
- You can’t have financial freedom by just doing the basics and avoiding risk.
It’s about mitigating risk. It’s about making realistic assessments and taking actions that are well considered. There are times when you shouldn’t go bull at a gate towards a problem. Being proactive is generally a very good thing but it’s not ubiquitously a good thing. But avoidance is definitely not the answer.
Avoidance is probably the number one reason why you’re not where you want be so come and change it. With NLP tools the training you’ll experience will tackle all of the anchor points that hold you to that old pattern, and it might be four or five days into the training before you really start to see the ship turn around. But it’s an important task.
It’s an important purposeful thing to do because it is, after all, your life and your future. Over 3000 people have come to our training, and this is probably the number one filter that changes because we target it.