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Alert: If You Always Avoid Things You Fear, You May Have This Issue

Alert: If You Always Avoid Things You Fear, You May Have This Issue

Most of us can relate to wanting to avoid things that make us uncomfortable – situations, people, and even work. Sometimes, we deliberately find ways to get out of confronting whatever makes us feel ill at ease. But Avoidant Personality Disorder is much more than just this.

Unlike other Cluster C personality disorders that may sound more familiar, Avoidant Personality Disorder is not as well known. The National Institute of Mental Health [1] estimates that around 5% of adults in the USA have it. It is characterized by patterns of social inhibition, feelings of inferiority or inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative responses. And as its name indicates, individuals tend to avoid situations that trigger those emotions.

Signs of Avoidant Personality Disorder [2]

  • Reluctance to be involved with people unless certain they will be liked.
  • Avoidance of activities (whether professional or personal) that would require significant contact with others due to fear of rejection or criticism.
  • Unwillingness to try new things due to shyness or feelings of inadequacy, particularly in social situations.
  • Sensitivity to criticism, rejection, or disapproval.
  • Difficulty with building intimate relationships because of fears and insecurities.
  • Feelings of being socially inept, inferior, or unappealing to others. As a result, there are tendencies to have extremely low self-esteem.

What Causes It?

The cause of Avoidant Personality Disorder is still undiscovered, but scientists believe that it may stem from genetics or as a result of childhood environments, such as experiencing emotional neglect from parents or peers.

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What is known, however, is that symptoms first start manifesting from infancy or early childhood. The child will display shyness, isolation, or discomfort with new places or people. Often times, children who do exhibit these tendencies grow out of it, but those with the disorder will become even more shy and isolated with age.

Having Avoidant Personality Disorder creates quite a limiting existence for those who have it. It causes physical, emotional, psychological, and social restrictions that affect day-to-day life. It proves to be challenging for both the person who has it and those around them. Learning more the disorder would enable you to help someone who may be affected. And the good news is that there are things that can be done to improve life quality.

Is there a cure for Avoidant Personality Disorder ?

There is no “cure” per se, however, the right treatment [3] can certainly improve the standard of living for sufferers and their loved ones.

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Therapy

Finding a psychotherapist who specializes in this particular field is said to be quite helpful. It will assist with addressing the underlying issues and promoting better dynamics in both personal and professional life.

Building rapport may be initially difficult for the person, so it would be normal for someone with this disorder to feel like they want to stop the treatment in the early stages. But once trust is formed, the relationship will help to create a stable environment where the issues can be confronted.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of therapy where the specialist places a lot of emphasis on the thought process, in particular, the beliefs that harbor negative or unhealthy feelings. The objective is to test those ideas in a more rational way and examine if there is any factual evidence for them. Patients may be invited to write down their thoughts and examine how they can replace these views with something more positive.

Medication

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There is currently no medication that is specific for Avoidant Personality Disorder, but doctors can prescribe things such as antidepressants for depression or anxiety, which are often common among those with the disorder.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] National Institute of Mental Health: Avoidant Personality Disorder
[2] Psych Central: Avoidant Personality Disorder Symptoms
[3] Healthline: Avoidant Personality Disorder

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J.S. von Dacre

Writer at Lifehack

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Last Updated on February 19, 2019

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

Why a Life Without Pain Is the Guarantee to True Suffering

No one wants to suffer. As a general rule, people like to avoid hurt and pain as much as possible. As a species, humans want a painless existence so much that scientists make a living trying to create it.

People can now choose “pain-free” labor for babies, and remedies to cure back pain, headaches, body-pains and even mental pains are a dime a dozen. Beyond medicine, we also work hard to experience little pain even when it comes to loss; often times we believe a breakup won’t hurt as much if we are the ones to call it off.

But would a world without pain truly be painless? It’s unlikely. In fact, it would probably be painful exactly for that reason.

If people never experienced hurt, they wouldn’t know what it was. On the surface level, that seems like a blessing, but think for a moment: if we didn’t know pain, how would we know peace? If you don’t know you’ve hurt or been hurt, how would you know that you need to heal? Imagine someone only knowing they have an incurable cancer at the final stage because no obvious symptoms have appeared at early stages.

Without the feeling of pain, people won’t be aware of dangerous situations—what should or shouldn’t do for survival.

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Pain Is Our Guardian

Pain serves to protect human beings from harmful actions. It’s the same reason parents teach babies that fire equals hot, and that hot equals hurt. Should the baby still place its hand in a fire or on a stove, the intense pain remains so memorable, that the child is certain never to repeat that action.

In the same way, pain within human bodies can serve as a warning that something is not right. Because you know what it is to feel “well,” you know what it is to feel poorly.[1]

Along with serving as a teacher of what not to do, pain also teaches you what you are made of in terms of what you can handle as an individual.

While the cliche, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” is a tired term, it’s used excessively for a reason: it’s true. Pain helps you learn to cope with life’s inevitable difficulties and sadnesses— to develop the grit it takes to push past hardships and carry on.

Whether it’s a shattering pain, like the loss of a loved one or a debilitating accident, pain affects everyone differently. But it still affects everyone. Take a breakup as an example, anyone who has experienced it knows it can hurt to the point of feeling physical. Especially the first breakup. At a young age, it feels like the loss of the only love you’ll ever know. As you grow and learn, you realize you’re more resilient with every ended relationship.

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No Pain, No Happiness

You only know happiness when you have known pain. While the idea of constant happiness sounds nice, there is little chance it would be. Without the comparison to happiness, there’s no reason to be grateful for it. That is to say, without ever knowing sadness or pain, you would have no reason to be grateful for happiness.

In reality, there is always something missing, or something unpleasant, but it is only through those realizations that you know to be grateful when you feel you have it all. Read more about why happiness and pain have to exist together: Chasing Happiness Won’t Make You Happy

In a somewhat counter-intuitive finding, researchers found one of the things that brings about the most happiness is challenge. When people are tested, they experience a greater sense of accomplishment and happiness when they are successful. It is largely for this reason that low-income individuals can often feel happier than those who have a sense of wealth.[2]

This is a great thing to remember the next time you feel you would be happier if you just had a little more cash.

Avoiding Pain Leads to More Suffering

Pain is inevitable, embrace it positively. Anyone who strives to have a painless life is striving for perfectionism; and perfectionism guarantees sadness because nothing will ever be perfect.

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This isn’t a bleak outlook, but rather a truthful one. The messy moments in life tend to create the best memories and gratitude. Pain often serves as a reminder of lessons learned, much like physical scars on the body.

Pain will always be painful, but it’s the hurt feelings that help wiser decisions be made.

Allow Room for the Inevitable

Learning how to tolerate pain, especially the emotional kind, is a valuable lesson.

Accepting and feeling pain makes you human. There is no weakness in that. Weakness only comes when you try to blame your own pain on someone else, expecting the blame to alleviate your hurting. There’s a saying,

“Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting your enemy to die.”

Think back to the last time you were really angry with someone. Maybe you were hurt because you got laid off from a job. You felt angry and that anger caused so much pain that you could feel it in a physical way. Being angry and blaming your ex boss for that pain didn’t affect him or her in any way; you’re the only one who lost sleep over it.

The healthier thing to do in a situation like that is acknowledge your pain and the anger along with it. Accept it and explore it in an introspective way. How can you learn and grow? What is at the root of that pain? Are you truly hurting and angry about being laid off, or is the pain more a correlation to you feeling like you failed?

While uncomfortable, exploring your pain is a way to raise your self-awareness. By understanding more about yourself, you know how to deal with similar situations in the future. You can never expect to be numb to difficult situations, but you will learn to better prepare financially for the loss of a job and be grateful for an income since you now know nothing is promised (no matter how much you work or how deserving you may feel).

Pain Hurts, but Numbness Would Be Worse

Pain does not feel good, but the bad feeling of it will help you learn and grow. It makes the sweet moments in life even sweeter and the gratitude more sincere.

To have a happier and more successful life, you don’t learn from success or accomplishment, but through pain and failures. For it is in those moments that you learn how to do better in the future or at least cope a little more easily.

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You are the strong person you are today because of the hardships this life has presented to you. While you may have felt out of control when those hard times came, the one thing you will always have control over is how you choose to react to things. The next time you hurt or you’re angry or sad, acknowledge it and allow yourself to ruminate in it. Then take a deep breath and start learning from that pain. You’ve got this!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

[1] University of Calgary: Why is Pain Important?
[2] Greater Good Magazine: The Importance of Pain

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