Anxiety and Avoidance

The classic behaviour that goes with anxiety is avoidance. Those anxious thoughts and feelings are so strong and uncomfortable that you make excuses, cancel plans or say and do whatever it takes to avoid going into that feared situation or environment. And if you can't avoid it altogether, your anxiety will certainly lead to you escaping from there as soon as you practically can.

When I struggled with social anxiety, making excuses and avoiding things were common occurences. I might have been looking forward to that night out when it was days away, yet the closer it came, the more I would worry about things going badly, about how I might look or saying the wrong thing (or having nothing interesting to say at all). The more anxious and filled with dread I would become, and the more it would play on my mind as I tried to think of a believable excuse I could use to bail out of the plans.  There were times when even if I was at a social event, I would feel so uncomfortable from anxiety that I would make my escape and head home.

Of course, sometimes a few drinks might relax me enough to enjoy myself but that's not a reliable, healthy or always acceptable strategy for tackling anxiety. And it can easily lead to overdoing it, feeling sick and losing the next day with a hangover (as well as those thoughts of what other people might have thought about what you were saying and doing). When it came to something like public speaking, I would try and get out of it any way I could, even to the point of faking sickness.

The problem with avoidance or escape because of anxiety is that it brings you relief when you do it. You dodge or get away from your anxious thoughts and feelings and then feel better as a result. But that short term relief only re-enforces your anxiety and makes feeling anxious and avoidance all the more likely the next time.

That anxious avoidance and the negative re-enforcement it brings are covered in this video. Click on the image and have a watch now: 


anxiety and avoidance hypnotherapy ely 

The more you recognise that you are avoiding things and that, in doing so, you find a sense of relief that re-enforces your anxiety, it becomes easier to change that pattern. Avoiding a situation, or escaping from it, only exacerbates the problem and makes it more likely that you will carry on escaping and avoiding. 

Of course, just going into those previously anxious situations, or staying in them, unaided can be a struggle because you have to try and deal with and cope with all your anxious feelings and behaviours (which may ultimately calm down but it's an uncomfortable wait). That's where hypnotherapy can help you. By engaging your psychology in particular ways you can prime your mind to be calm and confident before and during those situations. You can learn ways to change catastrophising and negative thoughts, as well as calming anxious feelings. What's more, you'll find yourself thinking and feeling more confident and capable too.

If you've had enough of making excuses to get out of things, cancelling plans due to anxiety or making up reasons to leave situations, then it's certainly time to get your imagination, thoughts, beliefs and expectations working for you. And it's certainly time to start learning how to overcome your anxiety so you can do the things you want to do. 

To your success,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket


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