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Are You Guilty of Emotional Avoidance?

Updated on September 5, 2020
Jacqueline4390 profile image

Jacqueline Williamson graduated with a BBA in Personnel Admin., an MPA in HR Management and an MS in Education.

Sometimes, we can become so emotionally involved with the pain of  the past that we can't see what it is doing to us in the present.
Sometimes, we can become so emotionally involved with the pain of the past that we can't see what it is doing to us in the present.

What is Emotional Avoidance?

It is amazing how situations and circumstances can be detrimental to the health of an individual. Something can be said on your job or while you are engaged in a meaningful conversation with a loved one. One word can be a catalyst, hurling you back to a situation in your past; revealing the thoughts you assumed were long buried. Yes, before you are aware of it—it’s being relived. You, my friend, have unfinished business!

There are times when a person doesn’t realize the magnitude of unfinished business, until the body reacts in ways that are unmistakable indications that something is definitely wrong. At that point, you realize that something needs to be done. Unfinished business can lead you down a devastating path of disaster!

There is a term I would like to introduce called Emotional Avoidance? Exactly just what is Emotional Avoidance? This is when you unconsciously avoid the likelihood of anything undesirable happening by either completely removing yourself from the situation or manipulating the circumstances where the least amount of damaged is sustained. Accordingly, you do everything in your power to erect an emotional wall of protection in order to avoid any presumed negative outcome based on past experiences. Instead of working hard toward achieve successful consequences, you focus on the easiest way of averting the situation entirely! When this is not possible, you can become sick either physiological or psychological.

Working on a job that you hate is like playing a "tug of war" with your emotions! You need it but you hate it!
Working on a job that you hate is like playing a "tug of war" with your emotions! You need it but you hate it!

What are some of the signs?

Physiological signs of Emotional Avoidance can take many forms. That unexplained headache that only happens when you begin a certain task can be an obvious indication that you are about to engage in an undesirable activity. It can start with just a slight amount of pressure to the temples and soon escalate to the point where you are searching frantically for a pain reliever.

A second intimation that signifies something amiss is the sudden overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that starts your day; then miraculously disappears when you leave your job heading for home. People have stated that they sit in their parked cars staring into space—dreading another day. You are a candidate for Emotional Avoidance.

These symptoms should never be ignored. What starts out as a simple psychological warning can manifest itself into a full blown problem such as:

  • Migraine or tension headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug Addiction
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Anxiety Attacks
  • Obesity

Let’s explore the following example. Take the case of an individual who is not suited for her job but needs to work. Yes, she knows how to do it and she may do it very well. However, her desirable skills are not being utilized. Instead, she has developed “killer skills.” These are the skills that can be performed by the individual but in doing it she is literally being “killed” by her lack of drive in performing those skills.

Sometimes, that person does physically die due to some complaint that could be traced to stress-related “killer skills.” Your mind has a strong influence on what the body does. After all, isn't it the control center? Every activity starts in the mind. The body responds to the positive and negative messages the control center sends out. If you tell yourself that you are going to have a rotten day; you will. High absenteeism can be traced to the imperfect fit of job and person. To avoid the negative situation, you desire to remove yourself from it!


Dreading a situation or wishing to be somewhere else will never help you solve it.
Dreading a situation or wishing to be somewhere else will never help you solve it.

Let's Investigate Further ...

Now, let’s investigate what’s going on with you at the present. I will present you with a series of statements. Answer them with how you feel about your situation at this present moment.

These questions are for the working woman single or married. They can also be applicable to a working man. If the question is not applicable to your situation, skip it.

It might be a good idea to write any additional comments you feel will help you discover why you responded in the way you did.

  1. I find the type of work that I do exciting and rewarding. True/False
  2. My daily commute to work is filled with frustration and anxiety. True/False
  3. My husband helps me with the children before we leave for our respective jobs. True/False
  4. I start each day with an attitude of gratitude. True/False
  5. I can’t function without a morning cup of coffee/tea/cola drink. True/False
  6. I arrive at my job early so that I can be relaxed and start my day with a refreshed attitude. True/False
  7. My husband just doesn’t understand me. True/False
  8. My children seem to do just the opposite of what I tell them to do. True/False
  9. Mondays are the worst days of the week. True/False
  10. I look for excuses not to go to work. True/False

If you find that over 50% of these statements are true but in a very negative sense; then it is time to carefully assess your situation. You may want to consider engaging the services of a good Counselor and/or checking with your physician to insure no permanent damage has been done. Having a good friend to confide in is also a good method of coming to grips with your problems. Make sure that this friend is truthful and not one who will only tell you what you want to hear.

Developing a hobby is another form of release. Flower arranging, crocheting or cooking can be profitable past-times. Just make sure that your hobby doesn't become another source of stress for you. A walk in the park with a good friend (either human or animal) is another area of consideration. It has been proven that having a pet to take care of is a great way of eliminating stress. Just make sure that your pet is not "high maintenance" or you may experience even greater stress. The smaller the dog the larger the need!

Don’t forget to take a break or mini-vacation whenever possible even if you only go outside and admire a bird cheerfully singing—he’s got the right attitude! Taking a relaxing drive in the country or going to the museum or art gallery is a great cultural way of taking it easy. Just remember: Emotional Avoidance doesn't have to happen unless you let it!

Job Satisfaction: Are Women Happier

Do you think that women are more selective and happier in their choices of jobs than men?

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© 2013 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS

Comments

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    • Mark Johann profile image

      Mark Johann 

      5 years ago from New Zealand

      This is a great help to everyone and especially to me. I may someday realize that this thing is in me and not even realizing it.

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      5 years ago from Memphis

      Thanks, Jan. I hope more people will be aware of emotional suicide.

    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 

      5 years ago from Washington, DC

      I really love the topic of this hub, Jacqueline. I've never heard the term, "emotional suicide." It's so important for us to pay attention to what our bodies tell us about the feelings we stuff. Your presentation is very practical and easy to apply. I'm glad to say I'm in better shape than I thought, based on my responses to your true-false assessment. But I still have some self-care activities I need to do regularly. Thanks for this heads-up. Voted up, useful, and interesting - and shared!

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      A lot of illnesses start in the mind. That once wonderful job is no longer so great or that "marriage made in heaven" now seems like hell. You may be a prime candidate for emotional suicide.

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      6 years ago from Memphis

      If you spend every Sunday night dreading your Monday morning commutes; then you may be on the road to emotional suicide.

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      7 years ago from Memphis

      One of the worst things a person can do is "fall out of love with oneself." Being stick in an unproductive job can have ripple effects as well. When you find yourself in quicksand; the best thing to do is look for something you assist you. Just struggling alone will make you sink deeper!

    • Jacqueline4390 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS 

      7 years ago from Memphis

      You will find that there are a lot of people who are in this state. Thanks for sharing your comment. It is unfortunate that we must work but that our occupations can have a negative impact on our life and we don't know it until we are diagnosed with Cancer!

    • peachpurple profile image

      peachy 

      7 years ago from Home Sweet Home

      my bro is in OCD or OCPD. Some of this info are similar to his state

    working

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