DBT – Avoidance

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In DBT this week we started looking at, and talking about avoidance. I think this is great because we all do it, and I am a particular fan of “no, don’t want to” to “nope, not doing it”. It’s almost like a hidden talent of mine, such as one of avoidance would be, to stay in my room and not do anything I’m supposed to be doing, but instead hide under the covers. The consequences too of doing this, bother me, but for now, at the moment are less tormenting than the reward of facing my fears which is why I’m pleased to be doing about avoidance in DBT group therapy.

We set about talking about what we avoid and this ranged a lot from confrontation and social situations to public transport to thoughts and feelings. We avoid things because in the short term it is easier, familiar, feels more safe for ourselves and others, it is more comforting – but the length of the term it does this for is really key to why avoidance is bad. It only works in the short term.

The list we came up with how we avoid includes:
– distractions
– withdrawing
– drugs, alcohol, sex and food
– suppression
– self harm
– stimulation
– escapism in books, films, TV, gaming
– dissociation
– being punitive to ourselves
– deep self analysis

which all all under either a FIGHT or FLIGHT response. There are pros and cons to avoiding situations, such as those listed above however the analogy used was that of a beach ball being pushed under water. The longer and harder you push down, and suppress the beach ball, the harder and with more force will the beach ball bounce back up above the surface. Additionally, the longer you avoid situations the further from your life goals and purpose you become as avoidance can get in the way of fulfilling your values. For example, I keep avoiding running and climbing – which is unhelpful because both help me a lot, and both are quite important to me.

Therefore, though, since being made more aware about avoidance I’m going to try and face up to what I’m avoiding. I’m going to try and face my fears. Today I was enrolled in to two courses in adult learning, confidence in social situations and managing anxiety and anger. I think this will help me to push my avoidance skills aside, and hopefully replace them with more helpful and healthy, balanced, fulfilling skills that I can use to live my life to a better standard of living.

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