Emotional Objectives: Avoid, Approach, or Attack

A year-round school that serves clinically complex and socially immature students in grades 8–12, Boulder Creek Academy helps its students to develop emotional self-regulation skills. Emotional self-regulation enables individuals such as those at Boulder Creek Academy to understand their emotions and avoid letting them take control of their behavior.

When it comes to emotional awareness, it is important to understand that emotions generally prompt humans to carry out one of three actions: avoid, approach, or attack. “Avoid” motivation refers to the desire to get away from something or lower its value. Common behaviors associated with avoidance include rejecting, dismissing, and withdrawing.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, “approach” motivation prompts individuals to learn more about something or increase its worthiness. Individuals reacting to approach motivation may try to learn from others, relate to others, or cooperate with others.

Finally, “attack” motivation causes individuals to act in a hostile way toward people or things. People experiencing attack motivation may often feel emotions such as disgust, hatred, and anger.

Although there is no easy key to achieving emotional self-regulation, understanding these responses can help one to remain mindful and balanced.