When certain emotions tend to upset us in life people automatically want to get rid of those emotion. This is because these emotions cause immense pain. There are two ways generally to deal with upsetting emotions one is to deal with them and other is to avoid them. Since we all are short of emotional management training therefore avoidance is apparently easy. By this people think that these emotions will no longer hurt them. On the contrary, these emotions become even worse and avoidance cause dysfuctionality in life. There are typically five ways how people avoid painful feelings. Each type of avoidance is explained separately below. In real life, however, people often attempt to reduce painful emotions using two or three types of avoidance simultaneously.
- Situational avoidance. This is the most common type of avoidance. With situational avoidance, you stay away from people, places, things, or activities that tend to trigger emotional distress. For instance, you might avoid crowds or large parties. Or you may try not to make eye contact with people or avoid situations in which you have to interact socially with strangers. Or maybe you avoid certain animals, such as snakes or spiders, or certain activities, like public speaking or changing clothes in a locker room.
- Cognitive avoidance. This type of avoidance is strictly in your mind. You avoid certain distressing thoughts or memories by consciously suppressing them and actually saying to yourself “Don’t think about that. Just don’t go there.” You push unwanted mental images away; sometimes cognitive avoidance takes the form of worry and rumination. You might handle your anxiety about the future and various risks in the hope that constant vigilance will somehow prevent anything bad from happening. Another cognitive avoidance tactic is replacing distressing thoughts or memories with other mental content. You might fill your mind with distracting fantasies or repeat mental rituals, such as saying certain good luck phrases over and over in your mind. Sometimes ritualized prayers or affirmations serve a similar purpose, with the repeated words and phrases drowning out memories or thoughts that bother you.
- Protective avoidance. With this strategy, you attempt to avoid risk and danger through excessive safety behaviors, such as checking locks, light switches, gas stoves, and so on, or by carrying certain objects with you that you rely on excessively for their protective qualities, such as lucky charms, a cell phone to call for help, mace, a whistle, or antianxiety medication. Protective avoidance can take the form of compulsive cleaning, hand washing, or wearing gloves to the bathroom. Perfectionism and over preparation for classes or work can also be a form of protective avoidance. Conversely, you might try to avoid risk by procrastinating and putting off a feared task or event.
- Somatic avoidance. With somatic avoidance, you try not to experience internal sensations associated with emotional distress, such as feeling hot, being out of breath, or getting fatigued or exhausted. You might even avoid normally pleasant sensations, such as sexual arousal or excitement about an upcoming event, because they feel similar to being anxious.
- Substitution avoidance. This form of avoidance involves replacing or drowning out a distressing emotion with another feeling. For example, you might replace anxiety with a stronger emotion that’s more tolerable for you, such as anger. Bingeing on food, alcohol, or drugs is a popular way of distracting from and covering up painful emotions. Cultivating an overall feeling of numbness can serve the same purpose. And some people turn to the excitement of gambling, risky behavior, video games as a way of replacing or covering painful feelings they want to avoid.