What’s Your Saboteur? How Counselling Can Help With Avoidance or Emotion Suppression

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What’s Your Saboteur? How Counselling Can Help With Avoidance or Emotion Suppression

We self-sabotage. Yes, you heard it right. Sometimes our innate defense mechanism tends to transform into a negative thought pattern or behavior. This could create a domino effect and result in behaviours we call our saboteurs. 

We have different saboteurs. One of these is avoidance. A common avoidant coping strategy for difficult emotions is Suppression. Suppression happens when you purposely avoid uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, or memories. This is because you don’t know exactly how to deal with them.

A lot of times, suppressing emotions accompanies actions. Some people tends to regularly use stimulants such as alcohol and drugs to numb themselves and avoid difficult feelings and emotions that they do not want to receive; individuals may oversleep to avoid confronting how they feel and to minimise the hours in the day that they have to deal with; some will often keep themselves far too busy, e.g. excessively doing exercises and work overtime to avoid being alone with their difficult thoughts and emotions; some people numbing themselves by scrolling on their phone, watching TV, or doing any other activity so they don’t have to feel their emotions.

A lot of people use avoidant coping strategies like suppression, which absolutely do not work, because they take too much energy. Pushing something down that already exists in your body and your nervous system is exhausting. And you can’t do it for long. And after a while, the act of pushing it down and trying to suppress it is going to arouse you further. So there’s going to be a rebound. The other thing is you become more and more sensitive to what it is you’re avoiding. And it looks more and more dangerous, because you never have a corrective experience of engaging this stimulus and finding out that you can deal with it. So it’s kind of a terrible circular trap.  

Counsellors meet their clients with unconditional positive regard to join them at where they are in a genuine, supportive and nonjudgmental way in their healing journey. Counsellors can hold and sooth their clients with relentless empathy in a secure-base therapeutic alliance where clients can feel comfortable to take risk with them as their companion to go into what is foreign, strange, dangerous, scary, sad, unbearably stressful, painful or unacceptable in their inner lives and face their vulnerabilities together.

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