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Escapism (Understanding) (Part 1)

As this is an article on Escapism, it may trigger some discomfort and resistance as you read it. If so, do not resist it — be aware of it, understand the source of this resistance, and confront it.

Take a good look at your life now. Is there anything that you are trying to avoid dealing with? Your work? Your responsibilities? Your relationships? Your singlehood if you are single? Your deteriorating health? Your poor dietary habits? Your poor exercise regime? Your negative financial status? Your goals? Your aspirations? Your personal issues? Your past?

Escapism occurs when you are trying to avoid something. It can come in different forms. Some people escape by seeking out alternate activities, such as sleeping and playing. Some drown themselves in work. Some immerse themselves in addiction, like emotional eating (binging), smoking, alcohol or even drugs. Some physically run away from their homes. Some may even go as far as to migrate to a new place where they can start “afresh.”

In life, many people try to escape from various things. No matter what they are trying to avoid, these things ultimately ladder down to their fears, their deepest sorrows, their pains, their past, and their disappointments.

In relationships, you see escapism come into play when people rebound after painful breakups. Rather than deal with the situation, they seek solace in someone else. The feeling of being wanted and desired, by someone — anyone — covers up the pain of their breakup. While the person may seem to have escaped dealing with the pain head on, in reality this wound has not been properly addressed nor healed. It is just there, dormant, throbbing silently until the day when it resurfaces in a different manner.

In other areas of life, you see people escaping from other things. For example, socially shy people who stay away from public spots. People who stay put in passionless jobs because they are afraid of failure from pursuing what they love or because they are afraid to know that there is something far better for them elsewhere. People who avoid challenges because they are afraid of supposed “pain” and “suffering.” People who avoid their past because they are reminded of their deepest sorrows. People who avoid their issues because they think they have no strength to face them. There are even some who basically spend their whole lives trying to escape from their issues.

As a coach, I work with many people to achieve their life goals. Some have progressive, forwarding goals. Some desire to overcome their personal issues. No matter what their objectives are, it would eventually come down to having to confront their personal limits.

In the process, it is not uncommon for some to become resistant and start displaying escapist behaviors. The level of resistance depends on the severity of the issues and the level of consciousness of the person. The deeper these issues are, the stronger the resistance; The lower their consciousness, the more they seek avoidance behaviors. It is then my job to bring them into a heightened level of self-awareness, reconnect them with that inner-self which drove them to engage a life coach in the beginning and enable them to overcome these limits.

However, there are times when their resistance and fears are so strong that their escapist sides kick in big time, to the extent where they become lost in their mental struggles and are unreachable through coaching. Some may start finding different reasons to avoid the sessions; some start avoiding contact or even request to terminate the coaching prematurely. This is rare, but it happens.

When that happens, it goes beyond my means as a coach. My coaching and personal life philosophy is that free will and personal choice supersede everything at the end of the day. When my clients want to avoid being coached, it’s not the coaching they are trying to avoid. It’s not the coach either. It’s themselves. As a coach, I cannot force them to deal with their personal issues if they, as the owners of their lives, have decided to give up and avoid them. Accountability is a key component of a successful coaching relationship and this means the coachee being directly accountable for their lives. In such instances, I can only let them go, send them my well wishes and positive energy, and keep the communication channel open for them in the meantime.

In the next article i shall write about Dealing with Escapism.

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