We’ve all probably experienced an event, or maybe even an extended time in our lives, when all we wanted to do was withdraw from a certain social outing or someone who gets under our skin. It is not an uncommon feeling.
Emotional avoidance—sometimes called experiential avoidance—refers to times when someone might stay away from different types of activities, environments, situations, events or individuals due to some type of painful association or anxiety of the unknown.
Emotional Avoidance Is Not a Healthy Go-to Solution
Most of us have probably used our own version of emotional avoidance once or twice—maybe as a tool of self-preservation. It simply makes sense to look out for your well-being in some instances.
However, it can be far more insidious for some people, leading to emotional withdrawal on a larger and more extended scale.
Have you ever found yourself retreating in the face of perceived danger, lurking dread or flat out fear? Are you sure there is a good reason for it?
As a one-off or very occasional tactic, emotional avoidance might not spell trouble. If it is becoming something of a habit, however, you may need to take a closer look at what is going on.
At its core—and further, allowed to spin out of control—emotional avoidance can lead to some pretty harmful consequences for you and your loved ones.
Here are just a few of the negative impacts from which we should all try to steer clear:
- Increased physical stress in the body, featuring higher instances of complications like high blood pressure, heart issues, stiff joints and bone weakness, along with a variety of illnesses.
- Lapsed memory and susceptibility to misunderstandings during conversations due to less familiarity and comfort with common language signals.
- Elevated risk of developing depression and anxiety.
The Benefits to Becoming More Emotionally Available Abound and Are Well Worth the Effort
For some, it will take work to become more emotionally available. The great thing is that, thanks to the effort, you will reap a huge bundle of benefits, including the following:
- It becomes easier to identify and candidly express genuine emotions, whether good, bad, sad or otherwise.
- It feels more natural to spend time with friends, loved ones and new acquaintances without self-consciousness.
- It is less stressful once you release your fight-or-flight tendencies; therefore your body does not need to kick into overdrive to compensate. All this means that you are less likely to develop physical illnesses, injuries and diseases.
Emotional Acceptance Can Put Positive Power Back In Your Hands
If you feel like you are bottling up emotions and tucking them away, consider adopting a new strategy. Emotional acceptance is one of my favorite strategies, and it involves allowing yourself to occasionally feel bad without allowing that bad feeling to become a habit. It actually empowers you by letting you feel emotions without becoming controlled and crushed beneath them.