What Is Avoidance Coping & How to Break the Avoidance Cycle

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Have you ever avoided exercising contempt nan truth that it is bully for your health? Or person you ever avoided family chores for illustration cleaning, laundry, aliases organizing? Or possibly you person avoided moving connected tasks that are difficult aliases tedious? And what astir avoiding dealing pinch conflicts aliases difficult conversations pinch others?

We are each blameworthy of avoiding unpleasant tasks from clip to time. It’s easy to debar things, particularly erstwhile we person truthful galore different things we’d alternatively do pinch our time. This type of coping is known arsenic avoidance coping.

It is earthy to defy tasks aliases activities that are unpleasant, difficult, aliases extracurricular of our comfortableness zone. However, if you proceed to debar something, you will go trapped successful an avoidance cycle, which will consequence successful antagonistic consequences specified arsenic missed deadlines, decreased productivity, aliases accrued accent levels.

To flooded these avoidance tendencies and amended negociate your time, you must first understand avoidance coping.

What Is Avoidance Coping?

Avoidance Coping is 1 of nan awesome types of coping that enables an individual to woody pinch some extrinsic and intrinsic sources of stress, which tin scope from insignificant inconveniences to awesome events. It is commonly regarded arsenic a maladaptive behavioral consequence to excessive fearfulness and anxiety.

Avoidance coping differs from problem-focused mechanisms successful that it intends to alleviate contiguous distress by denying, minimizing, avoiding, aliases distracting oneself from stressful aliases unpleasant thoughts, feelings, aliases situations alternatively than dealing pinch them directly.

Avoidance Coping is simply a Natural Response

Avoidance coping is simply a earthy quality consequence because it provides a quick, albeit temporary, alleviation from accent and discomfort.

Avoiding vulnerable aliases stressful situations is an evolutionary endurance accomplishment that has been hardwired into nan quality brain. When location is simply a existent consequence aliases threat, avoidance is adaptive and tin thief to support you safe.

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For example, if a personification were confronted pinch a vulnerable animal successful nan wild, their earthy guidance would beryllium to fly aliases hide.

In today’s world, avoidance coping tin besides beryllium considered a endurance accomplishment because it helps group negociate their emotions and accent levels successful nan short term. It allows group to temporarily relieve accent by avoiding definite situations, thoughts, aliases feelings, particularly erstwhile confronted pinch circumstances aliases problems complete which they person nary control.

For example, if a personification is emotion overwhelmed, they whitethorn usage avoidance coping strategies to flight nan stress, specified arsenic excessive societal media usage aliases avoidance of societal interaction.

The Avoidance Cycle

When avoidance coping is utilized many times arsenic a coping strategy, it tin lead to a shape of avoiding stressors aliases problems, forming an avoidance cycle, alternatively than addressing them directly.

The avoidance rhythm usually starts erstwhile you finally determine to return action connected that extremity you’ve been putting off.

But earlier you tin moreover begin, this thought shape appears. It causes you to redirect your attraction to thing else. Specifically, a distraction of immoderate benignant to support you from carrying retired nan original action you planned. And it happens each azygous time.

Let’s look much intimately astatine an avoidance cycle:

avoidance cycle

  1. Feeling anxious aliases fearful erstwhile confronting pinch a stressor aliases problem
  2. Engage successful avoidance coping behaviors (e.g. procrastination) to debar stress
  3. Stress is relieved temporarily but nan problem is not resolved
  4. Continue to usage avoidance coping successful consequence to akin problems

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An avoidance rhythm looks thing for illustration this:

“I person to _________ earlier I tin _________”.

Your mind has formed an underlying belief astir something, arsenic good arsenic nan conditions for whether aliases not it is “safe” to act.

For example:

  • “I person to … person a perfectly quiet situation … earlier I tin commencement organizing my office.”
  • “I person to … person each nan correct gym cogwheel … earlier I tin yet commencement my fittingness routine.”
  • “I person to … person nan cleanable resume … earlier I tin use for nan occupation I want.”
  • “I person to … cognize everything astir nan taxable … earlier I tin coming my task to nan team.”

There is ever immoderate logic why you cannot. It makes nary quality whether it makes consciousness aliases not because your mind believes it for immoderate logic and you would ne'er earnestly mobility this belief if you were alert of it astatine all.

An avoidance rhythm is particularly limiting because it lurks beneath nan surface. Most of nan time, you are wholly unaware that this rhythm is taking spot wrong your mind.

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Why Avoidance Coping Does Not Work

While avoidance coping whitethorn supply impermanent accent relief, it does not resoluteness immoderate problems and frankincense does not activity successful nan agelong run:

Unresolved Problems

Because avoidance coping does not reside nan guidelines origin of nan problem aliases stressor, nan problem remains unresolved. For example, if a personification is faced pinch a difficult activity project, procrastinating aliases distracting themselves will not make nan task spell away, and it will apt go much difficult and stressful to complete arsenic nan deadline approaches.

Similarly, avoiding difficult emotions aliases interpersonal conflicts tin aggravate problems and make them much difficult to resolve. For example, avoiding a speech pinch your important different astir a problem successful your narration will not lick nan problem, and nan narration whitethorn proceed to deteriorate without resolution.

Increased Stress Levels

Avoidance coping whitethorn supply a impermanent flight from stress, but since it does not reside nan underlying origin of nan stressor, accent tin accumulate complete time.

For example, if a personification is emotion overwhelmed by a difficult activity project, they whitethorn edifice to avoidance coping strategies specified arsenic procrastination aliases excessive usage of exertion to relieve stress. However, this will only supply impermanent relief, and nan accent of nan activity task will proceed to build arsenic nan deadline approaches, starring to moreover greater accent levels.

Avoidance coping has a snowball effect successful this way, yet causing higher accent levels and a diminution successful wellbeing. In fact, studies show that group who usage avoidant coping strategies are much apt to beryllium anxious and depressed. They acquisition much accent and are little happy and patient than group who usage progressive coping strategies.

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Decreased Self-Esteem

When a personification uses avoidance coping to debar problems and responsibilities connected a regular basis, they whitethorn consciousness blameworthy aliases ashamed astir their deficiency of advancement aliases expertise to grip their responsibilities. This tin lead to debased self-esteem and antagonistic self-talk complete time, specified arsenic “I’m not bully enough” aliases “I can’t grip this.”

Because nan guidelines origin of their problems is ne'er resolved, personification who is stuck successful an avoidance rhythm whitethorn often miss deadlines and person problems successful various areas of their life, specified arsenic their career, health, and relationships. This tin lead to moreover little self-esteem and self-worth.

How to Break nan Avoidance Cycle

The much 1 uses avoidance coping, nan much it becomes a wont and nan much difficult it is to break nan cycle.

But I person a method for identifying it based connected its default thought pattern:

Step 1: Think of a extremity that you want to achieve.

What is simply a extremity that you’ve been trying to achieve? What are the first 3 actions that you request to take?

For example, your extremity mightiness beryllium to commencement moving regularly. Your first 3 actions whitethorn be:

  1. Invest successful a brace of moving shoes and comfortable clothing.
  2. Map retired a moving way adjacent your home.
  3. Plan a moving schedule and instrumentality to it by mounting reminders

If you haven’t already started taking action. There is undoubtedly an avoidance rhythm that has brought you to a halt.

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Step 2: Write down what’s stopping you from doing it.

For each of these actions, what’s stopping you from doing it correct now?

Try 1 of these statements:

“I person to _________ earlier I tin _________”.

“I can’t _________ until _________”.

Take starting moving regularly arsenic an example:

“I can’t commencement moving until I get nan cleanable brace of moving shoes.”

“I can’t commencement moving until I find a bully moving route.”

“I can’t commencement moving until I person clip to scheme for my schedule.”

Don’t interest if you observe that you person a batch of these statements. In fact, nan much you discover, nan better. You want to get them each because arsenic agelong arsenic 1 avoidance rhythm remains, it will beryllium 1 much impediment to your progress.

Step 3: Turn nan avoidance rhythm into an opportunity statement.

Now it’s nan cardinal measurement to break nan avoidance cycle.

I’m going to present to you a ace elemental method to move each avoidance rhythm into an opportunity statement.

All you person to do is move nan avoidance rhythm into this connection instead:

“All I request is _________ and I tin commencement _________”.

For example, alternatively of saying:

“I can’t commencement moving until I get nan cleanable brace of moving shoes.”

You tin move it into an opportunity connection for illustration this:

“All I request is … to effort connected immoderate moving shoes and get 1 astatine nan sports shop adjacent home… and I tin commencement …running today…”

The powerfulness of an opportunity connection is that it shows you really to return nan first step. You don’t person to person nan afloat solution. All you person to do is get started.

You’ll cognize really to support going erstwhile you get started. That first obstacle is usually conscionable a elephantine illusion.

When Should You Seek Professional Help?

If you’ve tried and grounded to break nan avoidance cycle, and nan rhythm is making you consciousness overwhelmed, anxious, aliases depressed to nan constituent wherever it’s interfering pinch your regular life, see seeking master help.

Furthermore, if you judge your avoidance coping is related to underlying intelligence wellness conditions for illustration anxiety, depression, aliases trauma, you should activity retired master assistance.

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A intelligence wellness professional, specified arsenic a scientist aliases counselor, tin thief you successful knowing your avoidance coping and processing replacement coping strategies that straight reside nan root of your problems and stressors.

A intelligence wellness master tin besides connection you advice, support, and devices to thief you break nan avoidance rhythm and amended your wide well-being.

To find a therapist who meets your needs, effort Good Therapy aliases Psychology Today.


Avoidance coping whitethorn supply impermanent accent relief, but it tin lead to accrued stress, little self-esteem, and antagonistic consequences complete time.

Breaking nan avoidance rhythm by processing replacement coping strategies that straight reside problems and stressors is basal for surviving a much productive and happier life.

You tin amended your well-being, summation your feelings of power and competence, and unrecorded a much fulfilling life by confronting problems caput connected and processing effective coping strategies.

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If you are incapable to break nan avoidance rhythm connected your own, seeking master support tin beryllium beneficial.

Featured photograph credit: Francisco Moreno via unsplash.com

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