Those of us who aren't practiced in the art of mindfulness or presence, often (unconsciously) believe that we can't handle the ups and downs of life, such as experiencing disappointment, loss, rejection, insults, etc., so we do any number of things to numb or distract ourselves from what's in front (or inside) of us. Some of these behaviors include drinking, eating, smoking, spending money, pursuing romance or sex, nail biting, skin picking, working, and being glued to one's phone, computer, or television.
The funny thing is that a lot more time and energy are spent avoiding ourselves, our authentic feelings, and life, than it would take to look at what's coming up and deal with it. So why do we do it?
As infants, we had zero protection from incoming energies. All we could do for ourselves was close our eyes or turn our heads away if someone got in our face or something felt threatening or overwhelming. As a result we developed defense mechanisms to cope with these intolerable intrusions. They were important to our emotional survival when we were young and helpless.
But then we grew up and acquired some skills and smarts for dealing with life. And that was great, except that the inner-defenseless-baby-protector (in many of us) never got the memo. It continued to behave as if every stressor or difficult emotion had the power to destroy us. The numbing out, distracting, or running away mechanisms (fight, flight, freeze) continued to react to everyday challenges as if we were incapable of dealing with them maturely.
Do you know a strong, competent person who refuses to deal with his/her emotions? Or maybe a friend (not you!) who eats or drinks at night to zone out? Or maybe someone who is always too busy or problem-stricken to relax their weary body or mind? Addictions or obsessive/compulsive behavior, of course, are extreme forms of running away from oneself or life.
So, what about you? Are you peaceful and balanced, or do you have a tendency to run away, zone out, or try to control or rise above your feelings in any aspect of your life? If you're an escape artist, you might still be operating under the outdated assumption that you're not "big" enough to stay present and deal with what's going on in your life.
This week, I invite you to view yourself as strong enough to deal with whatever feelings or situations come your way, and to see what happens when you stay present in those moments when you would normally distract or numb yourself. If you feel overwhelmed by what comes up, by all means reach out for help, but know that in the long run you are better off facing whatever's there than running away.
Good luck, and have a great week.