Wellness Wednesday: Staying Present Through the Good and Bad

We all find ways to escape. To avoid having to confront ourselves and the things that give us shame, pain, sadness… The things that we learn from by finding the courage to confront and live through.

Escapism shows up in subtle and varied ways. Eating, exercising, social media… drugs, travel, relationships. For me, a fine line exists between a hobby and escapism. A hobby is  “an activity done regularly in one’s leisure time for pleasure;” whereas, escapism is “the tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy.”

Whether it’s something you love to do or something you’re addicted to doing (a fine line exists between these as well), you’re turning whatever it is into a form of distraction. Distraction is dangerous because the real source of pain is deep within, and it’s not being addressed. As we continue to plaster layer upon layer of distraction, we get further and further away from our true selves. We deal with problems the same way – by escaping – instead of truly addressing what it is we’re escaping from.

I found that at times of turmoil, I was turning something I loved into something I hated. How do I tell when I’m doing something out of love rather than escaping? I keep myself in check by observing if I’m trying to stay busy in order to avoid staying still. For example: I love baking cookies. When I’m baking cookies because I love baking cookies, I make some bomb cookies. When I’m baking because I’m escaping – say, distracting myself from a breakup, the intention behind baking said cookies is to avoid the discomfort of being alone. Needless to say, the cookies that come out of “baking to escape” are never as good as the ones I make with a clear conscience. The energy behind my work and my expression is marred and negative. It’s a subtle observation that takes practice.

Why do we do the things we do if not out of love? Do we do things because the act brings us closer to ourselves, or because it distracts us from uncomfortable feelings that would arise otherwise? I think we all need to stop escaping. We need to practice being present with ourselves – ALL of ourselves in order to be the best we can be in our lives. We can’t expect to truly move forward when we spend so much energy stifling things within and behind us. It’s hard at first but gets easier with time and practice.