As I’m writing you, I’m trying to decide if I have the exact problem or the opposite one. And I think I may have a little of both. In minor anxiety provoking situations (calling a great aunt to thank her for a gift or caling the mortgage company to reset my password), I avoid. If it has been a long time since I returned someone’s call, I assume they are so angry that I haven’t gotten back with them, that I avoid it further and eventually make the situation worse.
However, despite my anxiety, I have been relatively successful in my life and have accomplished most of what I set out to do. I think to some degree, I've been afraid to let go of my anxiety because I somehow have attributed my drive to my fear of failure. I was afraid if I let go of my anxiety, I would be less likely to prepare for the stressful events, and therefore, less successful. Instead, I obsess over the events, mostly in an unproductive way. If I have a meeting, presentation, or exam (in the past), I would obsessively prepare for the most unrealistic situations, practicing how I would respond in each way, none of which would actually ever happen! In doing so, often I would end up underprepared for the situation itself because I over prepared for catastrophe.
So now, I am trying to find the right approach.
When you are preparing for something and you feel your anxiety creep in, it’s not the preparation that is causing the anxiety, it’s your ANT about the event you are preparing for. Avoiding the ANT shouldn’t result in your avoiding the preparation (only the negative thoughts associated with it). I find my job quite stressful, but it’s not the work itself, it’s my fear of doing something wrong resulting in my supervisor’s disappointment with me. I cannot avoid the work, but I can label my ANT as irrational and try to replace it with something rational. For instance, if you are afraid to speak with your boss because you are sure she hates you, stop that thought and replace it with something more positive. “I will contact my boss about this situation. She will be glad I brought it to her attention.” Most likely, your boss doesn’t hate you, and even if she did, what’s the harm in believing she likes you? Even if you are wrong, your belief that she likes you will likely result in a more positive relationship with her in the future.
I am no expert by any degree, but I would say, prepare for the situation and when you start telling yourself that you are going to fail, stop that ANT and correct it with something like, “I am not going to fail, because I am going to be so well-prepared!”