Avoidance Coping Mechanisms In Adopted Children and Adult Adoptees
Problems Associated with EA
- Distress is an inextricable part of life, therefore, avoidance is often only a temporary "solution."
- Avoidance reinforces the notion that discomfort/distress/anxiety is "bad," or "dangerous."
- Sustaining avoidance often requires effort and energy.
- Avoidance limits one's focus at the expense of fully experiencing what is going on in the present.
- Avoidance may get in the way of other important, valued aspects of life.
- Laboratory based thought suppression studies suggest avoidance is paradoxical, in that concerted attempts at suppression of a particular thought often leads to an increase of that thought.
- Studies examining emotional suppression and pain suppression suggest that avoidance is ineffective in the long-run. Conversely, expressing unpleasant emotion results in short-term increases in arousal, but long-term decreases in arousal.
- Exposure based therapy techniques have been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of psychiatric disorders.
- Numerous self-report studies have linked EA and related constructs (avoidant, coping, thought suppression) to psychopathology and other forms of dysfunction.
Relevance to Quality of Life
- Putting off an important task because of the discomfort it evokes.
- Not taking advantage of an important opportunity due to attempts to avoid worries of failure or disappointment.
- Not engaging in physical activity/exercise, meaningful hobbies, or other recreational activities due to the effort they demand.
- Avoiding social gatherings or interactions with others because of the anxiety and negative thoughts they evoke.
- Not being a full participant in social gatherings due to attempts to regulate anxiety relating to how others are perceiving you.
- Being unable to fully engage in meaningful conversations with others because one is scanning for signs of danger in the environment (attempting to avoid feeling "unsafe").
- Inability to "connect" and sustain a close relationship because of attempts to avoid feelings of vulnerability.
- Staying in a "bad" relationship to try to avoid discomfort, guilt, and potential feelings of loneliness a break-up might entail.
- Losing a marriage or contact with children due to an unwillingness to experience uncomfortable feelings (e.g., achieved through drug or alcohol abuse) or symptoms of withdrawal.
- Not attending an important graduation, wedding, funeral, or other family event to try to avoid anxiety or symptoms of panic.
- Engaging in self-destructive behaviors in an attempt to avoid feelings of boredom, emptiness, worthlessness.
- Not functioning or taking care of basic responsibilities (e.g., personal hygiene, waking up, showing up to work, shopping for food) because of the effort they demand and/or distress they evoke.
- Spending so much time attempting to avoid discomfort, that you have little time for anyone or anything else in your life.