Dealing with challenging emotions is an inevitable part of life, and it’s natural to want to escape from the discomfort they bring. In this article, we will explore common strategies people use to flee from their feelings and why it’s important to confront them. By learning to face our emotions as they arise, we can foster self-awareness, healthier relationships, and a greater sense of peace and contentment in the long run.
Avoidance: One common way we escape difficult emotions is through avoidance. We keep ourselves overly busy, filling every moment with activities and noise to distract us from what unease of solitude and stillness can bring up for us. However, by doing so, we miss the opportunity to acknowledge and process our feelings.
Over analysis: Escaping into our minds and overanalysing situations is another tactic we use to avoid confronting our emotions. We intellectualise what we’re going through instead of allowing ourselves to genuinely feel it. This can create a disconnect between our thoughts and our emotional experiences.
Blaming Others: When our feelings become too overwhelming, we may resort to blaming others for how we feel, rather than taking responsibility for our emotions. This avoidance tactic prevents us from exploring our own emotional landscape and finding resolution and can often cause relationship ruptures too.
State Changing: Many people turn to external substances or activities like drugs, alcohol, food, or excessive exercise to temporarily change their emotional state. These distractions offer short-term relief but do not address the root causes of our emotions.
Empathetic Overload: While empathy is a valuable trait, sometimes we become overwhelmed by the emotions of others, using it to avoid our own feelings. It’s essential to distinguish between feeling other people’s emotions and our own. If you cry easily when faced with other’s tears, this could be a sign that you are not allowing space for you to cry your own tears.
The Consequences of Fleeing Feelings
Ignoring our emotions for extended periods can lead to physical symptoms such as headaches and gastrointestinal issues, as our bodies signal the need to address our feelings. Additionally, emotional avoidance can hinder effective communication and strain relationships, as we react impulsively rather than responding thoughtfully to external triggers as we are not in tune with our own feelings.
Embracing Your Emotions
Leaning into challenging emotions can be uncomfortable but is essential for long-term emotional growth. Imagine your emotions as a ball you’ve been submerging underwater; it can only be held down for so long before it resurfaces unexpectedly. Instead, practice allowing your emotions to surface gradually as they arise, noticing what they are trying to tell you. This will help you regain control over how you express them rather than them exploding in damaging ways.
Start by being curious about your emotional responses. Recognise when you’re using one of the ‘fleeing feelings’ strategies mentioned above, and consider the triggers. Ask yourself what you’re avoiding, protecting yourself from, or needing in that moment. Tune into your body; are there areas of tension? Focus on those discomforts, and take slow, deliberate breaths. What thoughts, feelings, and sensations emerge? Remember – emotions are not the problem, they are the messengers trying to make us aware of issues in our lives. We need to listen to them.
Seeking Professional Help
If your emotions become overwhelming or you feel unable to confide in friends and family, consider speaking with a professional, such as a counsellor. Trained therapists can provide a safe space for you to explore and address these challenging emotions without fear of judgement.
Fleeing from feelings is a common response to emotional discomfort, but it’s not a sustainable or healthy solution. Confronting your emotions may be daunting, especially if it’s not something you’re used to doing, but it’s a vital step toward self-awareness and emotional well-being. By embracing your feelings, you can regain control over your responses, improve relationships, and find a greater sense of peace and contentment in your life.