What is Avoidance?

What is Avoidance?

What is Avoidance? Jonathan Poland

Avoidance is the act of avoiding something that one finds unpleasant or inconvenient. This can involve a variety of different behaviors and strategies, such as avoiding certain people, places, or activities in order to avoid an unpleasant situation or outcome.

For example, if you are afraid of public speaking, you might avoid giving presentations or speaking up in meetings in order to avoid the anxiety and discomfort associated with speaking in front of others. Alternatively, if you are trying to avoid gaining weight, you might avoid eating certain foods or going to certain restaurants in order to avoid temptation.

Overall, avoidance is a common coping strategy that people use to avoid unpleasant or inconvenient situations. While it can be effective in the short term, it can also have negative long-term consequences if it becomes a habitual way of dealing with unpleasantness or if it prevents one from facing and dealing with important challenges or opportunities.


Procrastination is the avoidance of tasks or activities that you feel you should do but find reason to put off.

Path of Least Resistance

Always doing the easiest, most convenient and most comfortable thing in order to avoid stress. In the long term, this can make a person fragile and incapable of dealing with the slightest stress. It also guarantees mediocrity or less as it is difficult to develop talents and capabilities by avoiding effort and challenges.

Risk Avoidance

Avoiding risk can be a reasonable way to deal with risk. However, excessive risk avoidance can create large secondary risks. Risk taking is the basis for all value creation and human experience such that over-avoidance of risk is problematic. For example, a smug employee who mocks the failures of risk taking colleagues only to be completely surpassed by them as risks pay off or failures forge talent and camaraderie.

Conflict Avoidance

Avoiding situations that are likely to generate conflict, even where they require attention. For example, a small business owner who avoids firing an employee who is dramatically unprofessional.

Emotional Avoidance

A fear of “negative” emotions such as fear, discomfort and sadness. This neglects the role of these emotions in your development and well-being. For example, a individual who aggressively avoids sadness after losing a loved one.


Avoidance is a coping mechanism whereby an individual seeks to deal with stress by avoiding it. For example, a person with a fear of flying who avoids flying. This may tend to allow fears to linger or to become worse.

Motivated Reasoning

Motivated reasoning is the process of finding excuses to do what you want to do. For example, someone who is afraid of flying who convinces themself that travel is a bad thing with various one-sided logic.


Ignoring obvious truths because they are inconvenient. For example, denying an obvious problem because solving the problem might involve an effort, change or cost that you want to avoid.

Delusional Thinking

Inventing substitutes for reality in order to avoid something unpleasant. For example, imagining that you possess talents that you do not possess in order to avoid feelings of inadequacy. Imagination plays a role in shaping the future but often isn’t useful in dealing with current realities. For example, if you imagine that you are so lucky that someone will magically pay your rent for you, this may not actually happen.

Ambiguity Avoidance

Avoiding things that involve uncertainty. For example, dining at the same restaurant week after week to avoid the stress of dealing with an unfamiliar menu and environment. Ambiguity avoidance is one of the reasons that recognizable brands and chain restaurants do well.


Using thought processes to delay a decision that needs to be made. For example, a student that thinks so much about their major that they never end up completing a degree. This may be due to an avoidance of commitment and the responsibility involved in making a life decision.


Being dishonest with yourself or others in order to avoid something unpleasant. For example, lying to a teacher in order to avoid a punishment.

Accountability Avoidance

Attempting to avoid accountability for your failures or poor behavior. For example, a hotel manager who blames low level employees for a room that is not repaired despite multiple customer complaints.

Passive-Aggressive Behavior

A strategy of attacking others while technically doing nothing wrong. For example, an airline employee who reassigns a customer to a terrible seat because they dislike them. This avoids accountability for bad behavior with the technicality that this isn’t against any rules.


Sidelining is a social strategy that attempts to ignore someone in order to avoid something such as competition. For example, a manager who feels threatened by a talented individual on their team who assigns the person to meaningless work and doesn’t invite them to join important meetings and projects.

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