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An Article About Avoidance

3 Types of Avoidance


by Kevin Watson

If you are one of those who commonly avoid tasks or certain situations, it could be for several different reasons. But before you can work on solving or completing a task you’ve been putting off, it’s essential to narrow down what type of avoidance you are using to avoid something in your life so you can know how best to combat it.

Emotional Or Cognitive Avoidance

This type of avoidance usually happens internally and can’t be seen by anyone other than the person experiencing the avoidance.

When you, emotionally or cognitively, avoid something, it means that you avoid thinking about it. This can mean either blocking out the thoughts when they come to mind or repressed memories that are incredibly stressful.

Emotional avoidance is especially prominent after someone has experienced a trauma and is very common in people living with PTSD. Sometimes this type of avoidance requires medical intervention to resolve.

Situational Avoidance

This type of avoidance is much easier to see among your family and friends. Situational avoidance is when you specifically avoid a certain person, place, or thing which may remind you of something which makes you unhappy.

This frequently happens in friend groups when certain group members have had an altercation and don’t want to go to events where they may see the person they have disagreed with to avoid causing problems. You may also notice this type of avoidance in a friend who constantly changes the subject when a particular topic comes up in conversation.

Protective Avoidance

This type of avoidance is where you may go out of your way to protect yourself from feeling a certain emotion or experiencing something again. For example, someone who was the victim of a robbery may obsessively check the locks on all the doors in the house to ensure they are locked.

This type of avoidance can be one of the most dangerous as it can quickly escalate to more serious conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or an eating disorder.


If you find yourself avoiding certain tasks, thoughts, or people, it’s time to evaluate why you are doing so, keeping the three types of avoidance in mind.

Once you have discovered just what you are avoiding and why only then can you work towards fixing the issue and getting professional help if you find that you can’t overcome your avoidance tenancies alone.



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About the Author

Kevin Watson

Kevin is a highly experienced Leadership Coach and acts as Consultant to several boards of global organisations, as well as local business owners. He is passionate about making a difference by enabling and encouraging leaders who want to create and sustain meaningful change in themselves and the organisation.

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