Avoiding Means Never Having to Say “I’m Scared”

Avoidant behaviors such as selective listening or trying to control everyone and everything are subtle and not-so-subtle ways people use to side-step issues and situations. Behaviors such as these are an indication of what is going inside of a person……fear!

We avoid issues and/or people because something is at risk.

The drive towards perfectionism, for example, says I don’t want to risk doing something if I can’t do it perfectly, I can’t fail so I won’t do it. “Forgetting” doctor’s appointments could mean being afraid to find out if something really is wrong.
Other types of avoidant behavior:

  • Not returning phone calls
  • Always being late
  • Smiling or laughing it off when you’re angry
  • Projecting (putting our own stuff on other people)
  • Manipulating
  • Getting sick
  • Procrastinating a task at work
  • Losing or misplacing things
  • Over-sleeping
  • Not speaking up about how you feel

Such behaviors keep us safe within the confines of our fear even though we may not realize. The fear is behind what is going on around you, and your responses.

Unfortunately, these behaviors also push people away from us. It is far more obvious that a person is using avoidant behavior when they drink, gamble, use drugs that affect their world around them. These more subtle aspects of “avoiding” can easily go by with a person being totally unaware that they are avoiding. These more subtle aspects affect the quality of our relationships and ultimately block any true intimacy we might have.

Usually we have grown up with and are surrounded by people close to us that have their own ways of not dealing directly with issues. We may be made aware only when someone has the courage to question certain practices: “Seems like every time I ask you to visit my family, you get a headache.” Or through a direct consequence of your avoiding behavior such as being taken to court for not opening your mail and therefore not paying your bills. Though for many life will become that painful that we are made to look at our own actions and behaviours. Perhaps our health is in crisis, we lose a job or a partner leaves us. We experience a major loss somehow.

It takes courage to confront such practices — your own or those of someone you’re in relationship with. But one thing is certain about any avoidant behavior: it is not going to support you to experience and live the life and relationship you ultimately yearn for.