how to reduce avoidance

Learn to tolerate not knowing the reasons for someone else’s behavior.

People who are anxious often get stuck in overthinking traps whereby they think over and over about the reasons for other people’s actions (e.g., "Why did Patricia act the way she did towards me?” “Why did Mark choose Mary to lead the new team rather than me?”)

These thoughts are often intrusive, distracting, and distressing.

The critical point here is that you need to learn to tolerate not knowing the reasons for other people’s actions or inaction. People are complicated and we only ever have access to limited information. Therefore, it’s often futile to try to know for sure why someone has acted in a certain way.

If you can learn to tolerate not knowing for sure, you’ll be able to skip unhelpful rumination. Doing this, and thereby reducing thought intrusions, will make it easier to focus and feel relaxed.

Learn to recognize when you’re avoiding doing something you want to do because you can’t be completely certain of a positive outcome.

This type of avoidance behavior can run the gamut from small things (such as only trying recipes a family member has already tried) to big things (such as avoiding moving house).

Try: taking an inventory of all the things you’d like to do but you’re avoiding because you can’t be certain of a positive outcome.

Learn to delegate.

People who are high in intolerance of uncertainty often resist delegating because they can’t be absolutely certain that the person they delegate to will do as good a job as they would do themselves.

For most people, this difficulty with handing off responsibility only applies in pockets of their life rather than in all areas.

Common examples include wanting to hire a cleaner but not doing it, or not letting your spouse do tasks.

Think about: (1) Sometimes the other person will do a better job than you expect, (2) It often doesn’t matter if a task is done to a lower standard, and (3) In some circumstances you can put systems in place to reduce errors (for example, giving an employee a checklist of things they need to double check before handing work back to you)