What do you fear the most? Is it being alone, being poor, being rejected or something else? We all fear something and we develop behaviours to help us avoid these real or imagined outcomes. Sometimes the plans we create work well for us but often they don’t.
Think about behaviours that you engage in to help you avoid stress and anxiety. We either adopt avoidant behaviour or approach behaviour. Thus blog focuses on unhelpful behaviours that we adopt.
This is something that I come across often in my work with clients. I know that I too engage in avoidant behaviour at times. It’s the easy way out but it in no way increases my mental resilience.
Examples of avoidant behaviour:
Avoiding dating because you fear getting hurt or experiencing rejection.
Not applying for a job because you feel you don’t have the right skills or fear you will feel a failure at the interview and somehow make a fool of yourself.
Not attending a social event because you worry that you may come across as foolish and end up with no one to talk to.
Procrastinating when you know you need to get things done.
As you can see there are many ways that we avoid dealing with our fears. When we avoid our fears, we never get to reality test what we fear will happen. The fear remains untouched and unchallenged. As a result, the anxiety and avoidance continues. Not a great result, right?
Unhelpful approach behaviours include:
Overpreparation and over planning. Sometimes we over do it in an attempt to avoid failing. This behaviour can lead to your anxiety around failure being maintained.
Seeking reassurance – we all need to be reassured at times. Some of us however, need reassurance in order to function correctly and won’t feel good about ourselves or make decisions with reassurance from others. The message we send ourselves is that we cannot cope alone – a very disempowering message. This behaviour maintains stress and anxiety and the fear will remain.
We all engage in ‘safety behaviours’ – behaviours to comfort ourselves but safety behaviours are short lived successes and maintain problems in the long run.
What to do – Opposite Action Theory
If you avoid, try approaching – go on dates, apply for that job. Even if your worst fear comes true, you will soo understand that you cope far better than you thought you would and this instils confidence and mental resilience.
If you overplan and seek reassurance, try avoiding this type of behaviour. Getting through life with fewer safety behaviours is the key to self reliance and self confidence. Give it a go!