So hard to stop avoiding - any advice?

My CBT therapist (who I meet with to cope with the experiences after EMDR) talks to me about my avoidance as if it's just a matter of willpower: "Just try to be in the present moment"; "Just be more mindful"; "Don't do that - that's just another avoidance activity"

I don't think she understands just how hard it is to stop avoiding. I have to have a soothing tv show playing non-stop, and I do so many things to distract myself in between EMDR sessions. If I don't, it really feels like everything is falling apart. I already feel like I'm doing a lot by going to EMDR and giving it my all. And I also do activities to try to ease out of my avoidance behavior (e.g., spend 5 minutes with my thoughts, and acknowledge how my body feels, take a long walk without headphones, etc.) But it feels like such a strenuous thing to do each time, and I need to reactivate my soothing activities to just recover from that. It seems like it's going to take several months (if not a year even) to really get the hang of this.

It's frustrating because my therapist talks to me as if I'm just being lazy for giving into my avoidant behavior, but it's such an inner battle. I feel exhausted even convincing myself to spend short bursts of time *not avoiding*. Please tell me I'm not the only one. A weird trigger for me is this idea that I'm "lazy"; it really gets to me when someone implies I'm just not doing the simple task because I can't be bothered.
 

arfie

MyPTSD Pro
i started with learning how to turn around and make amends. my fly and hide instinct is hideously over-developed but i sincerely believe it is too useful and instinct to eradicate, altogether. it makes no sense, whatsoever, to stick around and continue a conversation which has already degraded to name-calling and blame-gaming. i believe it is better to back off and cool down before attempting to continue the conversation. pre-therapy, i would have kept running until i was too far gone to continue the conversation with intelligent continuity. learning how to stop and turn around to finish the conversation in a calmer frame of mind was my first step toward learning how to use avoidance as a development tool rather than an end-of-game flag.

but that is me and every case is unique. . .
continued support while you sort your own case.

for what it's worth
"lazy" is not one of my trigger words, but i have my share of them. "controlling" is the example trigger word i'll use here. i project that word into an awful lot of conversations. when someone begins to describe anything remotely like my control habits, i hear the word, "controlling," whether they have actually used the word, or knot.
 

Sues

MyPTSD Pro
I don't think she understands just how hard it is to stop avoiding.
... I think you summed it up here. It sounds like she doesn't get it, and that's not good.

my therapist talks to me as if I'm just being lazy for giving into my avoidant behavior

... I don't think you're lazy. You're trying to cope. We all have coping mechanisms, and most of them are not good until we start to work on using better ones. I'm also wondering if this therapist is trauma trained. I'm worried that you may not be getting the right support you need.
 

joeylittle

Administrator
My CBT therapist (who I meet with to cope with the experiences after EMDR) talks to me about my avoidance as if it's just a matter of willpower: "Just try to be in the present moment"; "Just be more mindful"; "Don't do that - that's just another avoidance activity"
She kind of sounds like a bad CBT coach. "Just try", "Just be"....CBT is effective for a number of reasons, but all those reasons have to do with there being a realistic, structured approach to shifting thought patterns that negatively impact emotion and behavior.

Working on avoidance using CBT would generally start with naming the avoidant behavior, then listing some thoughts that instigate the avoidance, identifying which of those thoughts feels the strongest (sometimes referred to as "hottest") - and working towards crafting a more balanced thought, which may then make it possible to slightly shift the avoidance behavior.

You might find a therapist who works with Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), or Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) more useful - they both use the building blocks of CBT, but are better angled towards managing stress responses related to trauma.

Which book does your CBT therapist use?
 

juliana

Learning
My CBT therapist (who I meet with to cope with the experiences after EMDR) talks to me about my avoidance as if it's just a matter of willpower: "Just try to be in the present moment"; "Just be more mindful"; "Don't do that - that's just another avoidance activity"

I don't think she understands just how hard it is to stop avoiding. I have to have a soothing tv show playing non-stop, and I do so many things to distract myself in between EMDR sessions. If I don't, it really feels like everything is falling apart. I already feel like I'm doing a lot by going to EMDR and giving it my all. And I also do activities to try to ease out of my avoidance behavior (e.g., spend 5 minutes with my thoughts, and acknowledge how my body feels, take a long walk without headphones, etc.) But it feels like such a strenuous thing to do each time, and I need to reactivate my soothing activities to just recover from that. It seems like it's going to take several months (if not a year even) to really get the hang of this.

It's frustrating because my therapist talks to me as if I'm just being lazy for giving into my avoidant behavior, but it's such an inner battle. I feel exhausted even convincing myself to spend short bursts of time *not avoiding*. Please tell me I'm not the only one. A weird trigger for me is this idea that I'm "lazy"; it really gets to me when someone implies I'm just not doing the simple task because I can't be bothered.
Thanks for sharing this. This probably depends on the type of therapy you are doing and what you are like as an individual. I tried mindful self-soothing techniques when I was around that group I was trying to avoid. You are totally not the only person that avoids things, I do. But some avoidance adaptive like avoiding hurting someone's feelings or avoiding unethically made clothing or something like that is an example. Sometimes it takes a second to set in what the therapist says I end up feeling one way about it at first then I come to understand it after the session more and feel differently. Trying to focus on one of the things like acknowledging how your body feels might make it less tiring. What makes it so that is a trigger so you think?
 
Top