Do You Use These Four Common Avoidance Tactics?
by Tamar Groeneveld
27th March 2019
As we’ve discussed previously, the issue that gets in the way of people realising their hopes, desires, dreams, is the underlying understanding or feeling that they don’t think that they’re good enough.
“I’m too stupid”, “I’m too busy”, “I’m too fat”, or “I’m too hairy”… all these negative perceptions of yourself have been learned from external factors interacting with your box set of learned behaviours, your past learnings. The understanding that you are ‘not good enough’ does not come from your authentic self.
But our past programming is powerful – so powerful that most people are convinced that they’re not good enough in some way or another. They haven’t yet learned that it’s not them who are not good enough; it’s their programming. That might actually be the case; their programming may not yet be equal to the task ahead of them. But instead of realising that they just need to learn something new, or see something from a new perspective, they instead try to avoid these feelings of inadequacy by using different avoidance strategies; this helps to avoid looking at their perceived inferiority.
Typical Avoidance Tactics
The first one is control. The next is escape. Then there’s despondency – they actually buy into the fact that they’re not good enough, and give up. And number four is blame.
You probably use some of these yourself to a greater or lesser degree. Once you recognise that, you might decide that you don’t need to use that behaviour anymore, because what you are avoiding to look at isn’t even true. You are always good enough and if you give yourself some time and space and the right thinking, you will always produce the perfect answer.
Let’s go through these avoidance strategies in more detail…
Let’s start with control.
One example of this is eating disorders. Someone who suffers from anorexia nervosa uses their ability to control what they eat, often because it is the only thing they feel they are in control of, to gain a small element of control over their lives.
A workaholic is another similar example. Some people focus on their work entirely, because they feel that it is something they’re good at, maybe they excel in their field. They can control this part of their life. Possibly their life outside of work is more out of their control so they believe that if they can succeed beyond measure at work, then everything else will feel a little more in balance.
What is usual in these cases of extreme control over one area of life is that they most likely lack or have lacked control in other parts of their life. Their lives outside of this area of extreme control is often very out of control.
Then you’ve got the control freak, who is someone who tries not only to control all their own behaviour but everything and everyone else in their life. They feel that if they can be in control of everything, then they don’t have to experience anything out of control and therefore their feelings of inadequacy never come to the fore.
There is obviously a scale of dependency on these avoidance tactics. We might not all be control freaks but we may be able to relate to using control in some way to curb our feelings of inadequacy. Going on a diet is an example of this. You use your food consumption to make you feel more in control and to avoid your feelings of inadequacy. This is not necessarily a bad thing at all. If done well it can bring feelings of great satisfaction. There is always a scale.
You can have a person who’s got anorexia nervosa, but you can also have a person who has a minor eating disorder – someone who decides to diet all the time, for example – because they don’t feel good enough. That’s not as serious as the person who has anorexia, but it still has a negative impact on their life. They’re still trying to avoid looking at the fact that they don’t think they are good enough.
The next one is escape.
Some people take drastic steps to avoid even experiencingwho they think they are. Because they cannot abide themselves, there is a high level of self-loathing. Instead of looking at who they think they are, they choose to avoid that altogether.
They use drugs, or alcohol, or gambling to escape themselves to such an extent that they don’t even know who they are anymore. And that’s preferable to experiencing who they think they are. But as soon as they sober up, they have to look again at all those thoughts and that chatter from the programming that’s constantly telling them that they’re not good enough, so they choose again to escape it by using drugs, alcoholor gambling. And so it continues. They probably don’t even know this is going on. I have discussed this with people who have gone through recovery; the recovery process forcesthem to look at themselves and this is often the hardest part of the process.
The third tactic is despondency.
People who become despondent buy into the fact that they’re not good enough. They accept the fact that they think they’re not good enough. They buy into that whole idea. So they give up; they become really uninspired in what they’re doing day to day. They just surrender to their feelings of despondency.
Some of these people become very fearful of the idea of change, so they avoid it. They’re so scared of what might become worse if they change that they just stick with what they’ve got. Their world becomes smaller and smaller. They can suffer from agoraphobia or similar. All because they buy into this idea that they really are not good enough.
And then you get people who apologise constantly, saying sorry for who they are and how their life is. They just say sorry about a hundred times a day.
And the last one is blame.
Often without even realising they are doing it, some people blame things on other people so as to avoid looking at their own behaviour. It’s not my fault, it’s because of this or that or whatever.
Some people blame their entire lives on something or other that has got nothing to do with it. They don’t want to even consider making a change because they’re blaming the whole situation on other people, or circumstances beyond their control. It’s not their fault so how can they possibly fix it.
Another example of this is projection– most people do this at some point, although without even realizing that it is happening. Maybe something really bad happened at work, and because it’s unprofessional to show anger or resentment at work, it’s brought back home, unintentionally. The angry feelings are blamed on someone else. “Why are you always so angry when I get home, I get enough of this at work.” What is that? It’s our own feelings that we are projecting onto the other person.
Of course, all of these exist on a scale. But I bet we can all think of aspects of our own behaviour that might be similar to one or more of these examples.
Try writing down some examples of how you use these tactics. Make yourself aware of them. It’s very helpful to know what your avoidance tactics are, so that maybe next time one of these tactics crops up, you might be able to observe your behaviour, stop, and choose a different way that is more productive.
Remember, these tactics are just attempts to avoid that misconception that you’re not good enough. You’re always good enough, it’s just your past programming that might not be. Past programming isn’t you, it’s a learned behaviour you got from someone else. It might be time to re-programme it into a behaviour that is designed by you.
Tamar Groeneveld is co-founder of Quantum Potential – a unique, holistic and personalised approach to body and mind, combining deeply relaxing and meditative yoga sessions with mental techniques to help you develop greater self awareness, see things from a different perspective, free yourself from limiting behaviours and awaken potential you knew you had but didn’t quite know how to unlock.
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