Lessons from wanting to run away

There are times in most peoples lives when things are hard going, for whatever reason it just feels like life is requiring a bit more of us and it can be tough. There are things we can do in these situations, things that help us carry on when we’ve got a lot on our plate. But sometimes it’s incredibly easy to slip into fantasies of what life could be like.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking (and I’ll be honest… worrying) this week about life post PhD-funding, and post PhD itself. It’s full of possibility, which brings with it huge levels of excitement but equally huge levels of anxiety, which I’m dealing with in the ways I know how. I’ve found my mind drifting into fantasies of what it would be like to run away from all the pressures, decisions and thinking that I need to do over the next few months. It’s oh so appealing, but it really is just a fantasy. Or is it?

I spent some time reflecting on the idea of running away, how being in a mindset of escaping a situation or circumstance can be really difficult. It can make us feel trapped and highlight all the things that we’re finding hard, impossible or demanding. It put’s us into a lack mentality, where we feel like what we have isn’t good enough, or right enough or anything enough.

And this really wasn’t sitting well for me. I am a very privileged individual to be in the position I am, and I was losing sight of that. So after spending some time reflecting on what I was grateful for. I decided I needed to flip my perspective, change my way of thinking about ‘running away’.

The result was to change my language and consequently my thinking. By thinking about what I was running towards in my fantasies, rather than running away from, it put me in a very different position, one that is empowering and puts me back in control of my life.

Why? How?

Because it helped me get clear on just what it is that makes running away seem oh so appealing. I asked myself, what is it about that scenario that feels good? What am I being drawn to? What is it that feels like it would be better than this?

And in doing so, I suddenly had some road signs, rather than having to drastically change my situation in order to reach what it is I’m craving or desiring, I have been able to identify those things and I am in a position to bring them into my life now, as it is.

One of my fantasies is to run back to Bali where delicious, healthy vibrant food is in abundance. Where connecting with people is easy and carefree. Where spontaneity sparks adventure and excitement. Where it’s easy to tap into a routine of self-care through yoga, massage and a ton of other modalities. Where life just feels good!

Even at a surface level, I can see that there are things I can do in my life now which will bring me some of what I’m craving.

Falling back in love with food after a period of time of eating rather mindlessly and functionally rather than for pleasure. I can do that – a quick search on Pinterest for some recipes and I’m full of ideas.

Connecting with people, it’s a little tougher here in the UK, but it’s doable. I’ve joined websites like MeetUp in order to seek out some like minded folk, and I’ve reconnected with some friends after a busy period which hasn’t allowed as much socialising as I’d like.

Spontaneity, means blocking out some weekends with zero plans, waking up in the morning and deciding what to do on the day, being open to possibility.

And finally, it’s no wonder my mind and body are craving self-care, things are full on and it’s natural for me to be wanting this. I can bring in more yoga, meditation and me time.

In this instance, my fantasy is a reality check and a reminder that when things are tough, it can feel natural to reduce the self care to give more time for getting stuff done. But actually, the opposite needs to happen, when I feel like I have less time for self care – that is exactly the time I need to amp it up.

So a short exploration of the question ‘what am I running to?’ put me into a way of thinking that enables action and empowerment, rather than wallowing and ruminating on all the things that don’t feel good right now and that I want to run away from.

So, although wanting to ‘run away’ can seem like a ‘cheats’ option, or a ‘weak’ move to society. Perhaps fantasies of running away or a new life don’t need to cause huge amounts of upheaval, perhaps these fantasies just need to be taken under our wing and explored a little.

Maybe, like so many moments which we can perceive as difficult or dark, these times of wanting to run away are messages for us, which with a little self awareness, compassion and self-exploration can open up some wisdom that is gold and can make those tough times that little bit easier, or even, if we’re lucky, that little bit sweeter.

Until next time 🙂

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