We Can Run But Eventually We Can’t Hide
I find it so interesting to discover the creative ways we run from ourselves and all of our “shadows.” When we develop the inner awareness to witness all of our patterns, we will uncover the ways in which we distract, escape, and run like hell from our discomforts. It took me a long time to become aware of my escape routes. Some of us use obvious distractions that help us numb out to life and avoid the feelings we don’t know what to do with. The more apparent offenders are drugs, alcohol, sex, over working, and eating to name some. But then there are some not so obvious obsessions that keep us on the run, like addiction to negative thinking, worrying, gossiping, hiding in our never-ending to do lists, social media and lashing out at others. The ways in which we distract are endless. I don’t really think it matters what the poison of choice is; yet what matters is what are we running from. Some poisons may be more toxic than others but in the end they are all just ways to avoid. I think it is extremely helpful to bring our own personal escape patterns to consciousness. That way we can recognize them more easily when we start to hit the pavement. As soon as we begin to see when we are reaching for our escape route, we can bring our awareness, open heart, and curiosity to the underlying feeling and choose to stay present. This takes courage and practice; however, it is where deep transformation occurs.
Most of my life, I have been running toward the good things. I think many of us do this. I wanted to control my outer circumstances so that I was always having fun. My go-to escape pattern is to definitely to stay busy. I was always making plans, going out with friends, vacations, etc. This is not bad. In fact, being with friends, family and enjoying our time on vacation are some of things that we cherish the most in life. The problem was that I was using these as ways to avoid the underlying discomfort that I was feeling from time to time. If I was sad or anxious, I would immediately call a friend and make plans to go out or I would start planning my next vacation. I also have the “worry gene” woven into every inch of my DNA. I was controlled by my fears and paralyzed at times by my excessive worrying. Just bringing my patterns into my awareness brings a sense of freedom and really allows deep growth to take place. Now I catch myself when I am “on the go” or caught in a “worry fest” and really tune in and see what’s going on inside. If I don’t know, I just remain curious and open for the insight to come. I have learned to own what I am feeling (without having to know why) and not run. I have discovered that I won’t die of anxiety or sadness or anger (unlike what my thoughts convinced me of at times) but instead I can be with them and eventually they will pass and I will be left with more inner space, love, and self-trust.
What are ways in which you run? Think of when you feel sad, or bored, or anxious or angry? Do you pick up that glass of wine, eat the whole box of cookies, shop or yell and blame your spouse? Write it down and really stay open to all the ways you avoid feeling (without judging yourself). Next time you feel the impulse to run, just stop and take a deep breath, even put your hand over your heart and ask yourself “what am I feeling?” “Can I be present enough to be with this discomfort?” This can be one of the most insightful and transformative steps we can make. Try it and see what happens.
“The wound is the place where the light enters you” ~Rumi
So don’t wait for the heart attack, or for the loss of a loved one, or for the divorce to bring you to your knees. We have everything we need right in this moment to wake up. We can run but eventually we will have to confront our discomforts. We can’t hide forever and while some of our escape plans work temporarily, what will work for you if you are confronted with your worst fears? When we have exhausted all of our options and can no longer hide behind our job, our martini glass, our perfectionism or our food, then we will be left with only one choice. We will finally have to surrender to what is. When we embrace our discomforts with courage and kindness, we discover that in giving up the run, the whole world is revealed right before our eyes.