What is experiential avoidance?
Photo by tropical.pete
Experiential avoidance is an attempt to avoid situations that make us feel stressed or anxious. The problem with avoidance is that the threat remains ‘untouched’ and we never learn the skills needed to work through the problem. Avoidance only works in the short term until another similar challenge presents itself.
Anxiety/stress = overestimation of the threat and underestimation of our ability to cope
We never learn how able we are to cope if we never confront the scary issues in life. The key to getting ahead in life and developing resilience is to approach those things that we fear. We develop greater psychological flexibility when we face our fears and see it though. Experiencing the outcome is essential for our personal development and growth. Either the outcome is good and that boosts us but even if the outcome is not as successful as we’d hoped, we still learn that we are able to cope.
The bottom line: do what you fear. It improves confidence (even if it goes wrong!) and makes you feel braver in life.