I remember a long, LONG time ago, in school, a boy was being asked to do something by the teacher. Instead of doing what she had asked, the boy hid behind the curtains, not realising that his feet were sticking out of the bottom. He got in trouble and had to do the task anyway! This is a very early sign of avoidance behaviour - sticking your head in the sand (or behind the curtains!) and hoping the problem will go away.
Spoiler alert - avoiding it won’t make it go away! Let’s put a description to the name - what IS avoidance behaviour?
Avoidance behaviour, or avoidance coping, is actions an individual takes to escape from difficult thoughts, feelings and situations. For example, this can be in the form of self-sabotage
- not doing a big piece of work until the day it’s due, although you know you have to get it done. It can also affect you health: not picking up the phone to make an appointment with your GP because you’re anxious about speaking to someone you don’t know. Or even your relationships: not having ‘the conversation’ with your partner to break up with them, because you’re worried about the confrontation.
Effects of Avoidance Behaviours
The effects that putting things off in your life can have devastating effects, not just for yourself, but also on many other areas. Here are just a few scenarios:
- You don’t learn to face things head-on, so that going forwards you hit the same stumbling block time and time again, and you don’t grow
- Your colleagues may think you are unreliable, untrustworthy to complete work in good time to a good standard