Fantasy. Daydreaming. Resting. Rusting. Ignoring and avoiding. Fleeing. These are all kinds of escapism. If you’ve fallen prey to it, this PsycholoGenie post will tell you how to overcome escapism.
Understand, it’s never been easy to live,
when we’re trying to escape ourselves.
― Kelli Russell Agodon, Hourglass Museum
Get a load of your life. Is there anything that you’re trying to run from? Maybe some responsibilities … some need-to-mend relationships … something from your past … some work-related taut … it can be something as trivial as exercising … The fact is, no matter how good you have it, at some point or the other, everyone feels the desire to escape! Take my word―we’re all escapists. It’s just that the degree to which we escape and the nature of our escapism differs.
So tell me, do you escape reality? How do you do it? What is it that you’re addicted to, that takes you to your own little fantasy world, and makes you feel home there?! The human mind, instead of dealing with problems, likes to pretend they don’t exist. We start looking out for ways that would make us forget the reality, relieve us from the stress that problem’s been causing us. Alcohol, drugs, keeping busy on networking sites and the Internet, sleeping excessively, etc., are some of the common ways to avoid reality. For the time being, they do uplift us―giving a pleasurable sensation of being aloof of the problem―making us forget the pain. But the bad news is, that’s all temporary. ‘Cause when you wake up after a really long sleep, when you have to face your boss after bunking office for a week, when you shutdown your PC, when the effect of your temptations get thinned and all you’re left with is the hangover, you’ll see your problem sitting right there in front of you!
At the end of the day, you still suffer and feel like you’re trapped in a hole. It’s like an ostrich which buries its head in the sand at the sight of danger―as if turning your head away and pretending everything is okay, will make it okay. But that doesn’t happen. The pleasant feeling diminishes. The problem stays. And in fact, might have grown worse.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines escapism as, “habitual diversion of the mind to purely imaginative activity or entertainment as an escape from reality or routine.” It is the avoidance of reality by engaging self in entertainment, or living in an imaginative world where one can feel safe. It is important to understand that not all escapism is bad. There are stages of escapism―from using it as a rejuvenation technique to getting obsessed with it.
How To Deal With Escapism
Following are the ways to do away with escapism and embrace reality. It should be noted that some of these may be short-term techniques, while some will help you in the long run.
Take up meditation
I know you’ve heard this a million times before but trust me, meditation works wonders. At first, meditate just for like 10 minutes a day―start a simple practice of sitting still for a few minutes, taking deep breaths and watching the breath. Try to focus. You may tend to lose focus, don’t worry, get back to your breath. Meditation will not just calm your mind, but help you in gaining control over your thoughts.
Observe your thoughts
When you start meditating, or (at first) sitting stagnate for some time, you are bound to get thoughts. A number of thoughts may come and go. Start observing your thoughts. Just notice as each thought passes by. Experience it. Remember, no judging or fighting it. Tell me, how does it feel?
Question your thoughts
Thoughts are herculean. They have the vim to affect the quality of our experiences. As you start observing your thoughts, you will notice the ones that keep coming up. Again and again. If they are positive, cherish them. If they are negative, question them. If you start paying attention to one, it will fade away and a new thought comes by. Let it come. Just go with the flow. Being aware of our thoughts is very essential. It will make you realize your potential and bring you at peace.
People live in their fantasy world, because they find that world to be more comforting, more accepting, where nobody can judge them, and they can live their life the way they want to. Now it’s time to map the route from your fantasy world to the real world. It’s time to accept yourself, accept your flaws. Get over them. It’s okay to be imperfect. It’s humane to make mistakes. It’s okay to fail and fail again. But it’s not okay to get stuck in the failure, run away from things because they didn’t happen as they were expected to. Don’t be hard on yourself. Accept the failure, work over it. Let go of your past. All you need is a little forgiveness and a little acceptance.
Stop pretending it’s okay
As they say, change is the only thing constant―practice and preach it! Accept, it’s not okay. You’re not okay. Accept the change introduced in your life, and the way it has affected you. Have faith in life and allow the circumstances to unfold. I know, it’s easier said than done. But eventually, life will teach you to accept it the harder way. So why not be open to changes?
Start writing a dairy. Call it your gratitude journal. Make a note of things that make you happy―that you’re thankful for. Make an effort to practice gratitude on a daily basis. Think of the good things in life. Let go the thoughts that make you feel low. It is not something that you can incorporate and master at in a day. It will take time and practice, but it’s gonna lead you to self-acceptance.
Take up Talk Therapy approach
You have friends and siblings, or someone with whom you share a close bond. Talk to them about what’s troubling you. Someone who’s empathetic and will listen to you keenly. Someone who’s gone through the same, and has exulted. Release the unpleasant emotions. You may even look for self-help groups, surf the Internet, find groups that let you interact with people going through the same phase, and have managed to overcome their fears.
Ditch the electronic world
Challenge yourself over this. Live phone-less for a day. Dump the Xbox. No browsing the Internet. No WhatsApping, no Facebooking, no gaming. For this world thawed with technology, it’s difficult to eliminate all electronic usage for a period of time, but you can at least limit it.
Seek medical help
As I said earlier, do not pretend to be fine. Recognize your problem and seek professional help. Decide, that you want to better yourself. Step outta that hole, and choose the path to well-being. Break the isolation, find a therapist who understands your problems and help you find solutions.
The best tactic to escape a problem is to deal with the problem. No postponing. No avoiding. Face it! And trust me, you’re the best and only person to deal with it. Times when you feel like fleeing away, remember this quote by Confucius. No matter where you go, there you are.