The Science of Avoidance + How It Gets In Your Way

Does this scene sound familiar? You know you have to have an uncomfortable conversation with your partner. You’ve been thinking about it, dreading it, and every time you get up the nerve, you change your mind and swear you’ll have the conversation later.


Or maybe you’ve been putting off going to the doctor, because it’s kind of a pain to get in. Plus it’s scary to have your levels checked, particularly because you haven’t been adhering to your prescribed plan. So you put if off another week.


Perhaps this scene is more familiar. You’ve been unhappy at work for the last year, and you told yourself months ago you were going to start looking for a new job. But the whole process is so daunting. So here you are, months later, still unhappy at work, still feeling stuck, and not any closer to moving on.


If any of these situations sound familiar, then you likely have a problem with avoidance. And it turns out, there’s actually a scientific reason you can’t seem to do the thing you know you need to do. Watch below to learn more, plus what you can do to break the cycle of avoidance and get back on track.



As you heard in the video, there’s a huge connection between anxiety and avoidance. It goes something like this. Something makes you anxious. You don’t want to do it. So you look for the quickest way out. Avoid; don’t do the thing! Phew, you feel better; you escaped that anxiety.


Makes sense, right? When faced with something scary and anxiety provoking, your brain wants to do everything it can to stay “safe.”   So it avoids anything that could disrupt its status quo. It senses a threat, and instead of telling you, “It’s ok, you’ve got this,” your anxiety tells you to turn and run. Get the heck out of there. Stay safe, retreat to your cocoon!


And so the avoidance begins. (It’s one of your brains old defense mechanisms, similar to this one.) The problem is that lots of good, awesome, meaningful stuff lies just on the other side of avoidance. And if you’re constantly avoiding, you’ll never get to that good, awesome stuff you deserve.



Your brain convinces you that you can’t do hard and scary things. That they’re too much and to just forget it. But like I talked about last week, you can do hard things. While you may not believe this, while your anxiety wants you to believe different, I’m certain. You can do hard things.


Breaking the cycle of avoidance is simple. Yet it’s hard at the same time. It’s simple in that it’s not rocket science. If you want to stop avoiding, you’ve got to do that scary, hard, uncomfortable thing you’ve been putting off. And it’s hard in that you’ve got to be brave and courageous. You’ve got to engage in some serious self-talk, reminding yourself that yes, you are capable of doing scary, hard stuff.


Do you struggle with avoidance? If so, stop and think about what it is you’re avoiding. Chances are, something about that makes you anxious. What is it?


If you can identify what’s making you anxious, you get to work on tackling that anxiety. Wondering how to do that. Here’s a good place to start.

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