Have Relationships You can be Proud of Prt 2

Part 2: To avoid or not to avoid:  That’s the question

In part 1, we looked at how some people are genetically wired to cope with emotional discomfort.  This post will give more information about those who avoid emotional pain. 

How to recognise an avoider...bottoms up, fella!

Avoid Why?
When a situation triggers negative thoughts, feelings, images, bodily sensations or meanings, avoiders believe they are not able to cope with this extreme emotional pain resulting from triggered lifetraps. 

Avoid How?
They then distract themselves to avoid the painful feelings that got triggered or they suppress the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings that have been triggered. 

Avoid What?
If you avoid, you want to avoid 3 main things:  thoughts, feelings or situations. 

-  Avoid Thoughts
Avoidant people will make an effort not to think of upsetting events or feelings.
Information that is very upsetting to the individual can be shut away so far, the person will actually forget it happened. 

-  Avoid Feelings
Avoidant people will block painful emotions.  This can take place automatically or voluntarily. 
Often avoiders will numb themselves to the feelings to lessen the pain.  Addictions aid in the emotional numbing process.

-  Avoid Situations
Avoiders will do their best to avoid situations in which lifetraps can be triggered; thereby psychological pain is avoided. 
No, dear.  Nothing is wrong...
For example: Your husband seems irritable when he comes home from work. 
Healthy response:  You ask him if he is as irritable as he seems.  You ask him if something's wrong. You give him a welcome hug and ask if he's OK.
Avoidant response:  You leave the room. Or, you start talking about happy things.  Or, you tackle the kids' leftovers.  Or, you pretend he is not irritable. Or, _____________ (fill in the blank).

How much avoidance takes place in your life? 
Answer these questions truthfully to give yourself a rough indication.

Instructions:  How often do these statements apply to you? 
0=I don’t know;
1 = Never;
2 = At least a few times a month;
3=At least a few times a week;
4=At least a few times a day. 

____  I avoid trying new things that I know I will not be excellent in.
____  I find it hard to remember negative experiences.
____  I watch TV to “switch off” from my day.
____  I find it hard to connect with emotions that my friends say I obviously show.
____  I try not to think about things that upset me.
____  I value rationality over emotionality.
____  I withdraw when I’m angry.
____  I smoke/drink alcohol/eat something comforting/watch TV when I get upset.
____  I do retail therapy when I feel upset.

Scoring Instructions: 
Step 1:
Note the number of times you marked 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4.  Generally, if you have more 0s, 1s and 4s, you probably are predominantly an avoider. 
Step 2: 
No, don’t you click that next blog button!  Think about this for longer than you usually would.  Consider the possibility that you might be avoiding uncomfortable feelings and thoughts right now. 
If you are still on this post, you are doing well!  Congratulations.  This is the first step to changing unhealthy avoiding patterns...stay with me...stay with me...
Step 3:
Now say to yourself:  Because of my genetics, I generally avoid uncomfortable feelings and thoughts.  Repeat it until you mean it!
Step 4:
This is the final but most important step.  Talk to a friend, spouse, partner, parent, shrink, dog...anyone!  Just tell someone that you have learnt that you tend to avoid coping with uncomfortable and painful thoughts and emotions. 

Repeat steps 1-4 daily for the rest of your life. 

See, that was easy. 

Part 3 will look at the counterattacking overcompensators, the club yours truly belongs to. 

Another member of Avoiders Anonymous

1 comment:

Pandora Poikilos said...
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