Emotional avoidance: What it looks like and how can we avoid - Hindustan Times

Emotional avoidance: What it looks like and how can we avoid

ByTapatrisha Das, Delhi
Sep 18, 2022 08:34 AM IST

From cutting people off immediately to escaping situations where we need to speak of our emotions, here are a few situations that look like emotional avoidance.

Emotional avoidance is one of the tendencies that we develop over time as a coping mechanism for the trauma that we may have faced in the earlier stages of life. While it develops as a defense mechanism, it can also impact our current relationships in an adverse way. Psychotherapist Emily H Sanders addressed this and wrote, “Vulnerability is a risk, after all. Some of us have grown up being shamed, dismissed, or having our sensitivities used against us. We have a biological imperative to keep ourselves safe- of course in these circumstances vulnerability is going out the window.” She further added, “It’s important to understand that many of these behaviors developed as a form of self-protection (often developed when we were young to adapt to our family of origin, but can also develop later in life for various reasons).”

Emotional avoidance: What it looks like and how can we avoid(Unsplash)
Emotional avoidance: What it looks like and how can we avoid(Unsplash)

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Emily further listed down what emotional avoidance looks like:

Cutting people off: When people do not treat us the way we want to be treated, we may cut them off immediately without attempting to fix the problem or have a conversation about it.

Saying we are fine: Sometimes when we are not fine, we do not want to share it with others. Even though our behaviors may show different, we keep saying that we are fine.

Sarcasm, humour: We are scared of showing our vulnerability to others, and hence end up using humour or sarcasm to get out of the situation.

Acting tough: Hard things may affect us, but showing it would mean reflecting our vulnerabilities. Instead, we choose to show ourselves as tough and strong.

Lying: Using lies to stay out of situations where we would need to share our emotions with others.

Talking about others: We always ensure that the topic of the conversation should be others, and not us, in order to stay out of talking about the way we feel.

How can we avoid emotional avoidance? Emily shared a few tips:

Awareness: We need to start being aware of emotional avoidance. We also can share the same with our near ones and create the awareness of the tendency that we have.

Mindful: Being mindful and aware of the situations that make us want to run away or escape is another importance step to avoid it.

Pay attention: paying attention and knowing about the way we feel and why we feel it, can help us avoid emotional avoidance as well.

Being open: Taking conscious efforts in being open to people slowly.

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