Those worn-out sneakers of yours? Take ’em off. Go barefoot. Because when your feet are naked, it’s a hell of a lot more brutal to run.
And we love running, don’t we? Running from our problems. Running from our emotions. Running from anything that makes us anxious or uncomfortable.
Hard truth: We have to stop. More than that. We have to invite our problems over for coffee and conversation.
Because let me tell you, those issues we’re struggling with? The ones that keep us up at night? They won’t go away. So we might as well try to find a way of dealing with them.
But it’s hard. Extremely hard.
For instance, we crave security, so we run from opportunities that could have big payoffs. We crave peace, so we run away from painful memories that make the hurt feel new again. We crave “normal,” even though we know the normal we’re living is stealing our joy and progress.
And these desires to hit the concrete and pretend our problems don’t exist?
They’re poisonous, and running from the three things below can greatly destroy your chance at the life and happiness you deserve.
Don’t run from the truth.
German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer states:
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Secondly, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
The problem with us is we like to vacation in the first two stages.
“It’s ridiculous to think my husband is cheating. With all his responsibilities, it’s impossible he’s seeing someone else.”
“I’m not an alcoholic. That’s crazy. Sure, I have a few drinks after work, but I still get up every day and pay my bills. Real alcoholics can’t function like that.”
“There’s no way I need to see a doctor for my depression. People get sad. I’m just going through a rough spot, and if I give it time, the sadness will go away.”
In short, we’re all freakin’ experts at denial.
A fact to consider: If these denials keep running through your mind, there’s a reason.
Maybe it’s because your friends, people you’ve trusted to be completely honest with you, are constantly bringing these issues up. Maybe it’s the nausea and guilt you get when you defend yourself against their observations and comments. Maybe it’s the fact your intuition won’t leave you alone, constantly whispering to you that your “truth” may not be as true as you think.
Important note: You have to be honest with yourself if your life is ever going to improve.
Consider loved ones’ words. Sit with them, and listen to your heart. Then, research the facts, and if you realize you’ve been lying to yourself, admit it.
Next moves: Do something about it. Take small steps if you need to go slow. Take huge steps if you’re feeling brave. Just be sure and step.
“Either you deal with what is the reality, or you can be surely the reality is going to deal with you.” — Alex Haley
Don’t run from the past.
The past is everything. It’s the reason we are who we are and do what we do. And it’s the hardest thing in the world to let go of.
Example: I’m obsessed with my appearance. Why? Because I was called “freckle face” when I was six.
Example: I’m a perfectionist. Why? Because my father sat over me as a five-year-old to make sure every answer was right.
Example: I won’t drive out of town. Why? Because my dad scared me to death about the dangers of driving in big cities.
However, I realize how lucky I am that these are relatively simple things to overcome.
However, tragically, I know that your past probably has not been that good to you.
You’ve been abandoned. You’ve been sexually assaulted. You’ve had abusive parents. You’ve cheated (or been cheated on). You’ve hurt someone (or they’ve hurt you).
You can’t change the past, and I’m sorry to say, you can’t outrun it either. However, you can confront it and realize it’s ultimately about what you choose to do next.
For example, how about writing a “break up letter” to the past? How about a phone call and an apology? How about a phone call and an ultimatum? How about looking up a good therapist?
Just don’t try and pretend it didn’t happen. It won’t get you anywhere.
“You can wreck your future running from your past.” — T.D. Jakes
Don’t run from the fear.
When it comes to things that scare me, I run like hell in the other direction. Like The Flash fast. Like Indy 500 fast.
Confession: I’m a scaredy cat. Rejections wound me. Conflict makes me sick to my stomach.
And a slew of cowardly questions runs through my head anytime I find myself face to face with fear.
What if I embarrass myself? What if I make someone mad? What if someone tells me I’m not good enough, not smart enough, not talented enough?
And “putting myself out there” online for others to see?
It’s the hardest thing of all, kind of like a dentist drilling on my tooth with no numbing medicine.
However, the truth is if we’re ever going to grow as people, we have to look fear in the face and say, “Don’t exert yourself. Spare yourself the effort. I’m winning this one.”
“One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do” — Henry Ford
And just so you know, I’m not a success story. This fear thing? It’s my Kryptonite.
I know it’s keeping me from good things, things that could change my life in dramatic, delicious ways.
So here’s what I’m going to do. Maybe it will help you too.
I’m going to imagine the worst-case scenario.
What if this risk I want to take is a disaster? I’ve survived many disasters in my fifty years. What if people make fun of me? I’ve been made fun of since I entered kindergarten. What if I get rejected? Boy, oh boy, I’m no stranger to that. But, compared to the gains I might make by “going for the gold,” the consequences I’d suffer from failure are minimal.
A bruised ego? I can handle that. A life spent wondering what would’ve happened if I’d put on my armor and faced my fear? That’s not so easy to forget.
The bottom line:
Author Seth Godin says:
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
One life. That’s all you get. And you’ll never be truly happy lacing up your sneakers and finding the nearest exit sign.
Sure, it will hurt to heal. But you deserve it. And whether you believe it or not, running towards the problem and taking steps to lessen its power is the best thing you’ll ever do.
On the other hand, you could just stay miserable.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
You may also like these posts on The Good Men Project:
|White Fragility: Talking to White People About Racism||Escape the “Act Like a Man” Box||The Lack of Gentle Platonic Touch in Men’s Lives is a Killer||What We Talk About When We Talk About Men|
Photo credit: iStockPhoto.com