I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how we humans tend to run away from ourselves when the going gets tough. But what does that mean, and what does it look like?
I’m referring to what happens when we’re uncomfortable with our thoughts or feelings, or uncomfortable in our own skin. Maybe we’re stressed out, so we take the edge off by having a drink. Or maybe we’re lonely, so we eat a pint of ice cream while standing at the freezer. Perhaps we’re bored, so we pick a fight with someone, or launch into a project we’ll never finish. Or maybe we’re sick, but we go to work anyway, because people are counting on us.
Abandoning ourselves can take many forms, ranging from momentary zoning out to full-blown self-abuse. Let’s look at a few common ways people leave themselves in the dust.
- Anything involving numbing the mind or senses. This includes all addictive and/or compulsive behavior (over-eating, under-eating, drinking, taking drugs, excessive use of phone/internet/TV, over-focusing on work, exercise, sex, etc.)
- Procrastination, unnecessary busywork, or self-sabotage.
- Habitually putting others’ needs ahead of our own.
- Anything that distracts us from being in the moment and noticing what’s going on with us.
- Not setting and enforcing appropriate personal boundaries or limits.
- Disrespecting ourselves or allowing others to disrespect us.
- Overfunctioning or underfunctioning.
- Any kind of codependent thinking or behavior.
- Taking on other people’s responsibilities, issues, or problems.
- Neglecting our own health, finances, or wellness.
- Always trying to “rise above” or censor our authentic thoughts or feelings.
This week, I invite you to notice when (in what situations) you reject yourself or your experience, and what you do to prevent yourself from staying present and true to yourself. Do you zone out in some way? Do you engage in compulsive or addictive behavior, and then regret it? Do you disregard your own needs and then pay the price? Do you deny or swallow your feelings?
If you see yourself in the above, don’t despair. Awareness is a great first step to making simple but profound changes in your relationship with self. It’s never too late to learn how to be present. Every moment represents a new opportunity to extend kindness, patience, and respect to yourself.