Understanding Healthy AvoidanceUnderstanding Healthy Avoidance
Understanding Healthy Avoidance

 Avoidance of feelings is usually seen as negative but are there times when we are so emotionally flooded by feelings that it’s actually a good thing to temporarily avoid feelings? 

It is part of the human experience to become flooded by feelings and it takes self-awareness to be able to identify what feelings are coming up and whether or not it’s appropriate to allow oneself to feel what you’re feeling in the moment. There are times when “healthy avoidance” makes sense and it’s what’s needed to be able to effectively function and move through the day. A better way to refer to this is having emotional maturity, which is to have self-control to manage your emotions, without reacting to them, and knowing how and when to respond to what you’re feeling.

What are some ways to engage in ‘healthy avoidance’?

Commit to becoming an emotionally mature individual and practice doing so daily. Notice what you’re feeling and pay attention to who or what caused the feeling to come to the surface for you. Work towards seeing your feelings or emotions as energy in motion and practice not creating a narrative to what you’re feeling. Part of our evolution is to be able to see the space between who we are and what we feel. We’ve been conditioned to believe we need to figure out what we’re feeling and that can be helpful for the beginning stages of becoming aware but there is great freedom that comes when you learn you are not defined by feelings and what you feel is simply the body’s way of trying to communicate with you. It could be helpful to ask: “What is my body trying to tell me?” If you can answer this, then that is a great way to see if you need to do something about it; otherwise, if no answer comes to mind, allow yourself to let it be and continue on (that is healthy avoidance).

How do we recognize times when we need to address feelings, and times when we need to avoid emotional flooding?

Knowing when to address feelings and times to avoid emotional flooding is an individual experience and differs for each person based on what is relevant to him/her/them. If a person goes through a traumatic event, experiences a loss in some way, or is faced with challenges, it’s only normal for feelings to occur and it’s important to address those feelings rather than avoid them. However, facing them right away after the event may not be helpful. If you can learn to trust your body and listen to it, it will guide you on when it’s time to address your feelings. For example, when you start to experience headaches, fatigue, gut issues, and/or muscle tension to name a few, this could be your body trying to get your attention to address unresolved feelings that are now manifesting as physical symptoms. On the hand, there are times when you may feel things and there is no rhyme or reason, having the awareness to know what’s important and what’s not, is a great way to be guided on whether or not there’s something for you to address. For example, let’s say you’re running late to work, and now you begin to feel worried about being late and then your worry becomes anxiety, and your anxiety becomes fear that you may get in trouble for being late, that would be an example of avoiding the emotional flooding before your emotions take over. When in doubt, breathe your way through and refocus on the present moment.

Stephanie Robilio, LCSW
Published Author
Chief Clinical Officer at Agape Behavioral Healthcare

To learn more about Stephanie visit stephanierobilio.com and follow her on Instagram @stephanierobilio, Facebook @stephanierobilio, and subscribe to her on YouTube Stephanie Robilio. Find all of Stephanie’s books on Amazon: WellNowMindful MakeoverPainted Soul, and Bonafide Spirit. To join real conversations about what it takes to achieve optimal wellness in mind, body, and spirit, check out The Mindful Living Podcast on Spotify.

Understanding Healthy Avoidance

Recognizing the Complexity of Emotions

While avoidance of feelings is often perceived negatively, there are instances when it may be beneficial to temporarily sidestep overwhelming emotions. It’s integral to the human experience to encounter emotional floods, necessitating self-awareness to discern the appropriateness of addressing those feelings in the moment. Developing emotional maturity entails exercising self-control in managing emotions without succumbing to reactive responses.

Exploring Strategies for ‘Healthy Avoidance’

To engage in ‘healthy avoidance,’ commit to cultivating emotional maturity on a daily basis. Acknowledge your feelings and their triggers while refraining from crafting narratives around them. Embrace the notion of feelings as transient energies and endeavor to perceive the space between your identity and your emotions. Rather than being defined by feelings, view them as the body’s means of communication. Ask yourself, “What is my body trying to convey?” and respond accordingly, practicing healthy avoidance when necessary.

Discerning When to Address Feelings

Recognizing the need to address feelings versus avoiding emotional flooding is a deeply personal journey, contingent upon individual circumstances and relevance. Traumatic experiences, losses, or challenges warrant acknowledgment and processing of emotions. However, immediate confrontation may not always be conducive to healing. Trust your body’s signals, such as headaches or muscle tension, as cues to address unresolved emotions. Conversely, differentiate between warranted concerns and fleeting worries, redirecting focus to the present moment when emotions threaten to overwhelm.

Navigating the Interplay of Thoughts and Emotions

The interplay between thoughts and emotions underscores the importance of discernment in addressing or avoiding emotional inundation. Acknowledge the validity of emotions while exercising discernment in their interpretation and response. Refrain from allowing transient worries to escalate into debilitating anxiety by grounding yourself in the present moment and utilizing mindfulness techniques to maintain emotional equilibrium.

Navigating Emotions with Wisdom

Understanding Healthy Avoidance. Practicing Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Mindfulness offers a powerful tool for navigating emotions with wisdom. Cultivate awareness of the present moment, observing your thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment. Practice mindfulness in your daily activities, such as eating, walking, or simply breathing, which will help you develop greater mental and emotional clarity.

Cultivating Compassion for Oneself and Others

Compassion for oneself and others is essential for cultivating healthy relationships and a positive outlook on life. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with kindness and understanding, recognizing your shared humanity with others. Extend compassion to others by showing empathy and support to those around you, which will strengthen your connections and promote mutual emotional well-being.

Accepting the Impermanence of Emotions

Recognize that emotions are inherently impermanent and ever-changing. Learn to accept the transient nature of your feelings, allowing them to flow and change without clinging to them. Cultivate an attitude of openness and flexibility towards your emotions, which will help you free yourself from the suffering caused by resistance or attachment.

Cultivating Gratitude and Resilience

Gratitude and resilience are powerful qualities that strengthen your emotional and mental well-being. Cultivate gratitude by focusing on the blessings and positive experiences in your life, which will help you maintain an optimistic outlook even in difficult times. Develop resilience by learning to adapt and recover from adversity with determination and inner strength.

Developing Meaningful Relationships and Social Support

Meaningful relationships and social support are fundamental to emotional well-being and mental health. Cultivate healthy and genuine relationships with friends, family, and loved ones who provide support, understanding, and unconditional love. Prioritize open communication and empathy in your interpersonal interactions.

Exploring Self-Discovery and Personal Growth

Self-discovery and personal growth are ongoing and enriching processes that allow you to develop your full potential as an individual. Take time to explore your interests, passions, and values, which will help you better understand who you are and what you want in life. Embrace challenges as opportunities for growth and learning, and maintain an attitude of curiosity and openness towards yourself and the world around you.

Connect with Stephanie Robilio and explore her transformative offerings by visiting her website Dive into a world of mindfulness, self-discovery, and empowerment here and take the next step on your journey towards holistic well-being.

Understanding Healthy Avoidance

Challenging Perceptions of Avoidance

Avoidance of feelings is often viewed negatively, yet are there instances where temporarily avoiding emotions can be beneficial? Understanding the nuances of emotional inundation requires self-awareness to discern whether allowing oneself to fully experience emotions is appropriate in the moment.

Embracing Emotional Maturity

Developing emotional maturity entails mastering self-control in managing emotions, knowing when to respond rather than react. Engaging in ‘healthy avoidance’ involves recognizing feelings as transient energies and refraining from constructing narratives around them.

Practicing Emotional Discernment

Understanding Healthy Avoidance. Recognizing when to address feelings and when to avoid emotional flooding is a personalized journey. Traumatic events or challenges may necessitate confronting emotions, while mundane concerns may warrant temporary avoidance. Trusting one’s body signals aids in discerning the appropriate response to emotional stimuli.

Cultivating Mindful Awareness

Mindfulness serves as a compass in navigating emotional landscapes. By anchoring oneself in the present moment, individuals can mitigate the risk of being overwhelmed by emotions. Practice breathing techniques and present-focused awareness to regain emotional equilibrium.

Fostering Self-Compassion

Understanding Healthy Avoidance. Embracing self-compassion is pivotal in navigating the complexities of emotional avoidance. Treat yourself with kindness and understanding during moments of emotional turmoil, recognizing that experiencing emotions is part of the human experience. Extend this compassion to others, fostering empathetic connections and mutual support.

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