Let’s Talk About Avoidance–What Does It Mean To Face The Unfaceable?

Emily Sinclair Montague
11 min readMay 9, 2022
kid running away down a road
Photo by Emma Frances Logan on Unsplash

Long ago, the Earl of Oxford approached the illustrious throne of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth I.

He knew courtly manners inside and out, had likely performed perfect bows a hundred times before. He knelt low before his Queen, graceful and poised…

And he ripped ass. Really ripped ass. It was a death-con red, earth-shattering, breaking-the-sound-barrier fart.

Like any reasonable person, he responded to this incident by leaving the country for seven years. I mean, what was he supposed to do? Apologize? Laugh? Just…get over it?! No, he had to avoid his shame by disappearing for the better part of a decade.

All flatulence aside, avoidance is a reaction that is both rational and completely idiotic. It feels like the only option we have when faced with stressful decisions, but from an outside perspective avoidance is clearly a spectacular waste of time and energy.

So, let’s stop avoiding the topic (see what I did there?). I’m here to provide a bit of perspective and a few solutions to this perennial struggle. At the end of the day, avoidance is natural. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.

If only someone had told that to Ye Olde Earle of Fartford.

What Is Avoidance, And Why Do We Do It?

I’m comfortable enough to admit that, thanks to my ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder, I am an Olympic-level avoider.

My psychologist has kindly called me out on this every time we meet for a session.

She’s also explained avoidance to me on multiple occasions and has done a great job of making it understandable. One of the important things to keep in mind is that avoidance isn’t the same thing as procrastination, even though many of us label it that way.

Avoidance is a response, while procrastination is a behavior.

Let me elaborate on that last point. Avoidance in and of itself is a purely mental process, not a behavioral one.

Avoidance becomes behavioral, and it expresses itself through a variety of different avoidant behaviors, but ultimately it’s an automatic (unconscious) response to something––not a…

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Emily Sinclair Montague

Author & Full-Time Writer. Embracing life’s chaos one word at a time. Get in touch at emsinclair@wordsofafeather.net (or don’t, but I love the attention)!