Most often, we find excuses to avoid the harsh realities we know are present within ourselves. The fear of facing our own fears leads to a vicious cycle of self defeating behaviors. Rather than looking within, we focus on the outside world and the externalities that we’d rather blame for things going wrong, but when it comes to introspection and looking into ourselves, we want to run, and continue running without looking back.
Avoidance of searching within for the answers to challenges and errors in our life can be a great stress accumulator, leading to compounded problems that become even more difficult to overcome the longer you run. Learning how to stop running away from yourself can make all the difference between a life that speeds along without you or a more contented life that has you in greater control.
Prison Break Action Steps
1. Take time off to think things through. When everything has started to go wrong in twos and threes and you feel incapable of dealing with it all, it’s a life signal of the need to stop and reflect. Break away from your rushed routine, which is often used as a coping (or avoidance) mechanism to avoid dwelling on any issues that are too painful, ugly or difficult to confront.
These issues will still be there no matter how tired, busy or seemingly indispensable you make yourself. At the level of your subconscious, these issues will soon crop up to be met with again and again, interfering with your regular level of functioning until you finally face them. Ways to give yourself space include:
Set aside two to four days to just get away from it all. Rent a cabin, set up a tent, live in your van for a weekend, anything to just get away and do nothing but think.
Block out time on the calendar for reflection time, perhaps even daily. Keep to this consistently without deviating and don’t allow other distractions to creep in.
Drop a few obligations to give yourself more space. If you’re over-committed, it’s likely you’re also under-performing in a number of ways and that hurts both you and those depending on you.
2. Write yourself an apology. As crazy as this might sound, write yourself an apology note. This will reinforce the respect you need to have for yourself to be able to face the internal challenges. It will also help you to acknowledge that you are human and can only manage and forestall so much before your inner needs deserve attention.
The self apology is a great way to let yourself know that you are entitled to make mistakes and as equally entitled to learn from them. It is important when making this gesture not to be too harsh on yourself. To err is essentially human. We are all not saints or prophets, so as a human entity, do not aspire for sainthood; rather, seek to be the best that you’re capable of being and acknowledge that that means knowing yourself a lot better.
Consider posting the apology to yourself by snail mail. When you open it, set aside some private, quiet time to really read what you’ve written and to see the meaning behind the issues you’ve highlighted in the letter.
3. Acknowledge the problem or patterns of problematic behaviors. Be honest with yourself. Think things through and look at your own life from the perspective of a third person. Standing outside of yourself and your current situation may be the only way you can be objective or realistic about any issues you are facing.
While it may seem a little odd at first, the more you aim to watch your life from the viewpoint of someone neutral, the more you’ll piece together patterns and even learn to laugh a little at the self that keeps trying in spite of the odds stacked against repeating negative patterns.
Some people try to occasionally view their life like a movie or as if they’re reading a novel. Putting yourself into the position of a character can help you to perceive the main themes that continue to be met by the character.
4. Consult a coach or therapist if necessary. You may be surprised at how the issues within you, once resolved, will lead to a more relaxed disposition. For many people, resistance to coaching can be grounded in feeling that they need to cope alone; however, this is an erroneous assumption.
Indeed, once you allow someone qualified to help guide you, you will wonder what took you so long to seek such support.