Avoiding reality sucks, because no matter how long or short a time you indulge, as soon as you stop, your life is right there waiting where you left off.
And you feel even worse because you’ve lost time and energy and gained a handover from whatever you were using, no matter how benign it is. I can get a headache from watching too much television, just as easily as I can from drinking too much wine.
When I was little, the family joke was that I always had my head stuck in a book, and I did, as often as I could, losing myself in the author’s world. I didn’t hear nor see or have any awareness of what was going on around me until, inevitably someone shouted in my ear or pulled the book out of my hands.
These days when I read 4 or 5 books in a row without stopping for a break between them, all devoured in a matter of days, staying up late to read, skipping work to read, waking up in the middle of the night and reading, I know I’m avoiding something.
Sometimes it might be binge watching a tv show, and that’s so easy now as streaming services skip straight from the end of one episode into the next, one season after another. Its easy to lose a whole evening, every evening in a week that way when you’re inclined to shut out real life.
Some people get lost in soap operas, the fictional lives they are watching seemingly much more engrossing than the one they are living, or maybe its easier to tell a fictional character how to handle their problems than deal with our own.
Yesterday, on my way home from going into town, (not to stand in a queue to shop but because I had to visit my bank), it was on the hourly news that the BBC were running out of EastEnders episodes and Coronation Street was restarting filming with social distancing in effect.
That’s how much influence these devices of distraction have, they’re mentioned on the news along with national and international stories. And then when you think about it, you have to consider that there’s a whole lot of industries invested in distraction from reality and they’re making amazing sums of money from it.
Some use alcohol, drugs whether recreational or prescribed, some use television, gaming, gambling, reading. Whatever it is, we choose the thing that takes us out of our own lives, soothes us, numbs us, gives us something else to think about.
As I realised that I’d been on a trashy novel binge, I decided to stop avoiding my life and sit in it and find out what was making me feel so uncomfortable that I spent hours avoiding it. Only by sitting quietly, determined to examine and feel whatever comes up can we release it, deal with whatever issue it is and make changes in our lives for the better.
Its easier said than done. I know it. I have all the tools at my disposal and I still read five books in three days. When we decide to live in our life, then and only then can we learn from it, uncover what makes us uncomfortable, what makes us run and hide. And only then can we release it. Its good to know your patterns, know what triggers you, and then you can go on a hunt to discover the source of your discomfort and let it go.
The most important thing to start with is to be aware that you’re doing it, you’re avoiding reality, avoiding life.
Once aware, you can change.
I would rather create a life I love to live, with the occasional novel for entertainment purposes than living a life that I need an escape from into a writer’s imaginative world. Knowing all the while real life is awaiting my return, everything unchanged and likely to feel worse after my time immersed in fiction.
This isn’t to say that its not okay to watch tv or read or have a drink or whatever when it feels like something fun to do, I’m not saying that. I’m saying don’t use it as a distraction from your life and things you need to face, work that needs to be done.
Avoiding reality is a game for fools. Because we always return and feel worse when we do.
Changing your reality, that’s where our energy and attention needs to be focused.
Know what it is that needs to change for you to live here and now, without resorting to an escape valve, and then get to work on it. And you know when I say get to work, I mean inner work. The best place to start changing your life is in your mind. Always start within.
Free you mind and the rest will follow.
PS. Think what would life be like if your thought processes were upgraded so you became unstoppable. What would life be like if you were able to step up and show up as that best ever version of you that you know you’re capable of?
Picture yourself thriving in life, developing an instinct for making the right choices, knowing in your gut you’re always choosing the correct thing for you.
Imagine any addictions, old anxiety and fear melting away, no longer influencing your thinking, your behaviour, your decisions. You are free to make better choices.
Think how it would feel achieving your goals with far less resistance, whether it’s earning an extraordinary income, being a rockstar in your business or career, or excelling in your personal relationships. You can do it, you have no fears about any of it anymore.
See yourself fully present and grounded, living with total fulfillment and satisfaction with how life is unfolding for you, with zero regrets, as you fearlessly carve your own path forward.
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