Don’t Avoid The Problem

Don’t Avoid The Problem

by Dr Emma Gray - 23rd March, 2015

We all avoid things from time to time, unfamiliar or anxiety provoking things or just things that we would rather not deal with.

Avoidance is an evolutionary response to perceived danger, it is one of the things we are preprogrammed to do if we feel uneasy or anxious; in the face of danger we run to the back of the cave and hide.

It is so tempting to close our eyes and hope that the problem will go away on it’s own. However, this is rarely the case, problems generally need to be tackled and when we pretend that they do not exist they grow stronger in the dark of our neglect.

Clinical Psychologists and Counselling Psychologist spend much of their time developing ways of helping people to tackle their problems, however, these methods can only help if the problem is brought into the light.

It is true that this is easier said than done, so it is important to remember that most problems, when seen clearly, are a fraction of the size they seem when glanced at fleetingly across a sea of anxiety or depression.

By not facing our problems we are storing up problems for the future because:
1. Avoidance makes things worse

The more we avoid difficulties the more insurmountable they seem and the more insurmountable our difficulties seem the more anxious and depressed we become.
2. Avoidance creates new problems

Not facing our problems erodes our self esteem and confidence which in turn makes every other aspect of life harder to deal with.
3. Avoidance interferes with our lives

When we do not face our problems not only do they not go away they restrict other aspects of our lives including the commitments we can make and the responsibilities we can take on.

The following guidelines may be helpful in determining whether you are avoiding difficulties:

1. Consult your feelings

If you are not doing something because it makes your feel anxious or panicky then you are probably avoiding it. If you continue to do the thing that make your feel anxious or panicky but feel no better it is likely that you are still avoiding some aspect of it.

2. Observe your behaviour

If you are finding it hard to make a decision or find yourself stuck and unable to initiate action you are probably avoiding.

3. Identify your thoughts

Are you overestimating the chance of something terrible happening and/or underestimating your ability to cope with this? Such thoughts can make it very hard to face a problem and usually result in avoidance.

If you think that you are avoiding a problem take the first step towards resolving it, call The British CBT & Counselling Service they will help you with the second step.

If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our Problems Pages helpful.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

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