A couple of weeks ago I voluntarily locked myself in a room full of zombies. My family and I got 75 minutes to figure out a bunch of clues before the zombies were going to take over the world. Ever heard of this? It’s a concept called Escape Rooms and it’s gaining popularity.
The topic of wanting to escape reality, it’s interesting to me. It seems we western people love to escape from our lives sometimes, don’t we? We escape for example into watching endless TV series (love that), drinking a bit too much alcohol (did that), smoking, shopping or fidgeting with our mobile phones (not my thing), even sleeping (on the very top of my escape list). You name it, it seems we all sometimes engage in some form of numbing behaviour in our own way.
The definition of escaping is to break free from confinement or control. So I wonder, is this how we view our lives? As something that confines and/or controls us and that we want to break free from?
For years I wasn’t really aware of the fact that I was sometimes choosing numbing behaviour to escape from life. Instead I lived parts of my life in some kind of victim-mode. This is what that looked like, using a metaphor of waves in the ocean:
When I was awake, I felt like life consisted of waves of different magnitudes which pushed me and sometimes really knocked me over several times a day. These waves came in the form of people at work who vented their own personal frustrations over me, of my small children who refused to sleep at night, of irritating car drivers while commuting to work, etc. Big waves and small waves, over and over again.
What I was doing felt a lot like struggling to survive each wave and waiting for the next one. In the gaps between waves, I chose something from my escape list and indulged myself in that for a while just to take a breath until the next wave came. I felt entitled to the things on my list, whatever they were. Because if I was struggling so much to survive the waves, I surely sometimes did deserve this break from it all?
Someone once said:
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
In the end I came to a point where I was just tired of living my life as a victim of the waves of life and numbing myself with escapes in different forms just to get through it all. It somehow felt that this was not the meaning with my life. So I decided to actively work on myself and over the course of time slowly changed my way of living. Since then, different results have been coming my way.
The key to unlocking the contents of my escape list turned out to be awareness. Not just awareness of the nicer things on my list of numbing behaviour, but also total awareness of the not-so-pretty things on it. Owning up to everything on my escape list and exposing myself completely somehow freed me.
Do I still choose to sleep when I feel overwhelmed sometimes or sit for hours and watch Netflix series? Yes I do. It’s not that my escape list just magically was erased. It’s just being aware of it that for me makes all the difference. Being aware of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it at any point in my day simply makes it easier to catch myself going into numbing behaviour or victim-mode. And the moment I’m aware again, I am free to course-correct and choose another path. I really love that about life! It reminds me of something a wise man called Praful once told me and that I since then frequently remind myself of:
We are never stuck, we can always move.
Photo: Nick Hidalgo – unsplash.com