Trap 5: Avoidance

 

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This continues a new series of posts excerpted from Monkeytraps in Everyday Life: A Guide for Control Addicts (in press).  It’s about psychological monkeytraps: what they are, how they work, and how recovering control addicts can learn to notice when they’ve trapped themselves by trying to control what cannot or should not be controlled. Read the introduction to the series here.

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Trap 4: Avoidance

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Step 1: I experience discomfort

X makes me uncomfortable.

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Step 2: I misread the discomfort.

“I should stay away from X.”

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Step 3: I try to control the discomfort.

I avoid X.

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Step 4: My attempt fails.

Because I avoid it, I never discover (a) what X is really like or (b) how to cope with it, so my discomfort continues.

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Step 5: I misread the failure.

“X remains a threat to me.” 

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Step 6: I experience discomfort.

X makes me uncomfortable.

 

Footnote:

Avoidance & control

If you’ve ever heard the phrase, “What you resist, persists,” you have been introduced to the basic reason that avoidance coping can increase anxiety. When people use this strategy to consciously or unconsciously avoid something that causes them anxiety, they usually create a situation where they need to face it more…. [For example,] If you avoid having the conversations that are necessary to resolve a conflict in the early stages, it can snowball and bring greater levels of stress to the relationship. In some cases, unresolved conflict might even end a relationship. If this happens, you might develop anxiety over any type of conflict, as your experience might have made you believe that even a small conflict can end a relationship (which might be true if a conflict was not resolved). If you find yourself ending relationships rather than working through conflicts, you will likely end up with many broken relationships and a sense that you’re not able to make relationships “work” in the long-term.

~ Elizabeth Scott, M.S., “Avoidance coping and why it creates additional stress”

 

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Next:

Trap 6: Blame

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Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop
is available here.

Monkeytraps: Why Everybody Tries to Control Everything and How We Can Stop by [Steve Hauptman]


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