Avoidance - A Guide to Stop Avoiding and Escaping

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ilbey Ucar – PhD (Psychology)

Last updated date : March 17, 2023

Avoidance is a behavior that occurs as a result of sensitivity to judgment, weakness, fear of feeling worthless, and fear of rejection. It’s typical behavior. We have all been avoidant at some point in our lives. You may have an avoidant personality if you avoid a large number of situations. It can be a way to escape your underlying emotions. It is more than just shyness and awkwardness.

Avoidant people are usually fearful and sensitive to others’ opinions. As a result, they avoid certain situations or events to avoid those feelings. If you’ve used avoidance as a way of coping, you know how much you dislike being on the spot and being judged. You get nervous when you meet new people or find yourself in uncertain situations.

Avoiding opportunities means missing out on chances. Because of your avoidance, your career, relationships, and social life can be at risk. Therefore, it’s important to understand your patterns of behavior. We recommend that you start by identifying your symptoms. If you recognize yourself in any of the following signs, you may have an avoidant personality.

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Chapter 1:

Symptoms of Avoidance

Scared of New Experiences
As avoidant individuals, we fear other people’s opinions. We worry about meeting new people because we fear rejection. What if we make a terrible mark on them? Why would they want to go out with someone like me? Is it possible for me to get to know them? As such, our minds will race even before meeting people. We fear the unknown, so we avoid it at all costs.

New experiences are likely to be overpowering, mainly if the new activity includes a lot of people and interaction. For example, you are asked to give a toast at a friend’s wedding. This requires public speaking. If you believe you are incapable of giving a speech, you’ll decline this offer. This is because a large number of people will have the opportunity to review and critique you. So you avoid it, to prevent that from happening.

Staying away from people is the best way to avoid criticism and others noticing our flaws. The more pressure we have to interact, the more we isolate ourselves from society. We escape fear-generating events by reducing contact with people as much as possible.
Low Self-Esteem
If you lack confidence, you avoid situations because you don’t believe in yourself, you can exhibit avoidant behaviour. Avoidant people usually undermine their skills and abilities. You avoid sports because you believe you aren’t good enough. Since you lack the confidence to interact with others, you avoid group activities. If you’re at school, this will affect your learning experience.
Avoiding Conflict
Conflicts include differences of opinions and judgement. For instance, bullying. If someone bullies you at school you won’t fight back. Instead, you will fear that person and avoid him forever. You fear the harmful and uncomfortable feelings associated with it. So, you completely avoid conflicts. Although dealing with a dispute helps to resolve it, it only leads to other conflicts for the avoidant person.
Trouble with Friendships
To make friends, you need to meet new people. That itself is a wearisome task for you. So, you won’t make any friends or will push people away who want to be friends with you. The fear of judgements and being hurt makes the avoidant less likely to get close to a person. Further, you are scared to trust others. So, it’s hard to keep up a healthy friendship.

Moreover, avoiding social gatherings or group activities will not help with a friendship. The idea of friendship is enjoying each other’s company. As you dread spending time with people, friendships will be hard for you. You might keep a distance or only maintain online friendships.

An avoidant person is usually nervous. When it comes to situations involving a large number of people, you may overthink things. You don’t want other people to have their attention on you. You avoid such events because you are afraid of embarrassing yourself in front of others. If you or a buddy takes a long time to react to a party invitation, it indicates that anxiety is present.
Sensitive to Negative Feedback
Avoidant people already have a low self-esteem problem. As a result, when we receive negative feedback or rejection, we become sensitive. We feel embarrassed and ashamed. It also adds to our negative view of ourselves. As a result, we tend to stay away from situations where we might be judged. Avoidant people may see criticism as a personal attack rather than an opportunity to improve.
Avoid Intimacy
If you fear being close to someone you love, that means you are scared to show your true self. You don’t want others to see your insecurities. Nor do you want others to view you negatively. So, we avoid being vulnerable with others. This wouldn’t be a choice you make but rather an escape from your fears. As a sensitive person, you might want to protect your feelings from hurt. Hence, you will act cold and distant with the ones you love to show that you’re strong.

Chapter 2:

Causes for Avoidance

Below we will go over what some people thinks causes avoidance and what the science or research suggests. Remember, avoidant behaviour is not always a personality disorder and that we can see the signs of avoidance from a young age.
There is little evidence that avoidance is genetic. However, if your parents suffer from avoidance, you could be at greater risk to develop this behaviour. Like most personality disorders, this doesn’t always mean that you will develop it.
Childhood Trauma
If you were neglected or not loved as a child, you might believe that this will happen again with other people. Hence, you avoid interaction. When there’s little praise from parents, children feel insecure. We need our parents’ support because they are the people closest to us while we are young. When it’s not given to us, it hits our self-esteem and confidence. Moreover, if our parents were avoidant with little to no social life during our childhood, we learn this behaviour. We accept it to be normal.
Psychological Factors
A mix of psychological factors adds to avoidant behaviour. Your mind tries to influence you to have a negative attitude toward yourself. This could be a depression-related symptom. You believe what your depressed mind tells you when you’re depressed. There will be an increase in negative self-talk during this time, such as “I am worthless” or “I don’t deserve anything.” As a result, you distance yourself from others. Depression also makes you shut people out of your life.

Anxiety problems can also lead to avoidance. When you’re anxious, you tend to overthink how things will turn out. You tend to jump to the wrong conclusions. You obsess about unpleasant memories from the past. Because you don’t want to feel uneasy or anxious, you’ll avoid anxiety-forming situations completely.

Another factor that contributes to avoidance is body image concerns. In a society where body ideals are constantly compared, it is possible to have a poor body image. We fear criticism, humiliation, and comparison when we deal with poor body image. As a result, we may avoid situations in order to feel comfortable and secure. Further, if a person had been repeatedly body shamed in the past, it can lead to avoidance too.

Chapter 3:

Types of Avoidance

Complete Avoidance
This is what happens when you entirely avoid an unpleasant episode. You won’t even come close to the incident you’re afraid of. For example, if you are being bullied at school, you may decide not to go to avoid the situation. This behaviour, on the other hand, denies you opportunities, much like taking an exam.
Partial Avoidance
Using safety behaviours when you have no choice but to attend to something is known as partial avoidance. We all have special events we can’t escape in our lives, such as weddings, college presentations, etc. Here, people try to avoid moments where they might feel uncomfortable as much as possible. Given below are some examples of partial avoidance.
  • Using a mobile phone to avoid making eye contact with strangers
  • Eating in a corner to prevent others from judging how you eat
  • Using self-service at a restaurant
When a social situation becomes overpowering all of a sudden, escape avoidance occurs. A small party, for example, suddenly becomes a house party. When the situation becomes more crowded, you’ll try to escape. You may leave early, isolate yourself, or pretend to be sick.

Chapter 4:

Avoidance vs Introversion

The behaviour of an avoidant person and an introvert is somewhat similar. They are both socially isolated, avoid social interaction. So what sets them apart?

Unlike avoidant people, introverts are not afraid of social interaction. They simply choose not to as a matter of personal taste. Introverts strive to join social events, make friends and enjoy such moments even if it isn’t their greatest liking. Avoidant people, on the other hand, dislike such situations because they’re afraid of being judged. They would go to great lengths to avoid social situations.

Chapter 5:

Effects of Avoidance

Avoidant people believe that avoiding situations will make them feel better. This, however, is not the case. It has the potential to intensify them instead. You will feel lonely if you avoid society. Your self-esteem will drop as a result of this. Furthermore, important parts of your life will face difficulties. As a result of evading exams or interviews, your academic and professional life will take a turn. Overall, it will affect the quality of your life, and you will be far behind your peers.

Additionally, avoidance will stop you from experiencing intimacy. Because you avoid meeting people, it will be difficult to find a friend or a lover. Let’s imagine you’re lucky enough to find a partner or a group of buddies. Even yet, your avoidance behaviour will keep you from doing things they enjoy, such as going on dates or doing fun activities together.

In romantic relationships, in particular, there will be a lot of communication and trust issues. When there are issues, you will probably flee away from them because you don’t want to face a difference of opinion or shots at your esteem. Eventually, you will end up losing valuable people from your life, feel alone and continue the cycle of avoidance.

There will be a lot of communication and trust issues in romantic relationships in particular. When there are problems, you tend to avoid them because you don’t want to face confrontations or shots at your self-esteem. You’ll eventually lose important people in your life, feel lonely and repeat the cycle of avoidance again.

Chapter 6:

Is it life Threatening?

An avoidant individual will have to deal with the consequences of their actions. It will become difficult to bear the pain of not being able to live as a regular human being at times. As a result, there’s a chance they’ll seek comfort through drugs and alcohol. Your well-being will be harmed if you take drugs for an extended period of time. So, yes, if you continue using substances, you risk your life.

As a result of missing out on things, an avoidant person may experience depression, bipolar behaviour, or self-harm. Suicide and severe mental health problems are more likely as a result of this. Therefore, if avoidance has become a daily practice in your life, it is critical to get professional help.

Chapter 7:

Professional Help

We understand that seeking professional treatment for avoidance might be scary. You’ll have to open up to people who are strangers and talk about yourself. That, however, is not the case. Professionals are compassionate listeners who do not pass judgement on you for who you are. This may be the most secure environment in which you may open up. As a result, it’s critical to put your faith in them and seek assistance in order to get over avoidance.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)
CBT focuses on helping you to talk about your emotions. You are guided in developing coping skills and self-awareness. This way, you will be able to change your thinking patterns and avoid negative emotions. Your therapist will suggest breathing exercises, meditation and different activities that help you form good behavior.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)
DBT helps  you by teaching you to accept yourself. This helps to deal with impulsive behaviors and heavy emotions. People learn to accept their flaws and imperfections. DBT also helps to increase our mindfulness. Overall, it helps to nurture our minds. We are here to help you.

"Quizzes and recommendations were very uselful" Donna

87 sections

6-Weeks Self-Paced

  • Educational Content
  • Quizzes
  • Self-reflection material
  • Suggestions & feedback
  • Worksheet, tips & tools to use

$9.00 $12.00

25% discount