by Catherine Pratt
Are you dreaming of being able to escape your life by just going to the airport and taking the next flight anywhere or thinking how great it would be to move and not let anyone know where you went? I used to have these all the time. I would dream about just walking out of my job and going to the airport and heading off to the most tropical place I could imagine. I could see the deep, turquoise blue waters and the soft sand beckoning me. "Escape, leave now, you can do it," they'd say. "You don't need to put up with this crap. Just leave." And on would go my escapist fantasy. Then one day, I actually stopped and asked myself why I wanted to leave. What was bothering me so much that I wanted to walk out on my life? It's when you ask this type of question that you suddenly realize these escapist fantasies could actually be an opportunity for you to change your life. Here’s how:
Instead of dwelling on the fantasy of walking out, ask yourself—What do I want? At first you’ll probably start with the minor things like “I want some peace and quiet” or “I don’t want to work anymore”. Move beyond the “noise” or the minor irritations that are bringing you to this point and really dig deep.
Even if at first, the answer sounds crazy, “I want to be an acrobat in the circus”, don’t instantly dismiss it because you’ve been told a hundred times “that’s not a job” or “you can’t make a living doing that.” It’s important to respect your deepest desires. There’s a saying that says, “If you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, it kills you to see people who are.” What’s killing you? The corporate job may pay the bills for now but it’s not ever going to satisfy your soul. What do you really want? Your feelings of frustration are a gift to take a look at your current situation and figure it out.
Is something bothering you but you just don’t want to face it because you either don’t like conflict or you feel like you shouldn’t be annoyed by it? Running away isn’t going to solve the situation nor is ignoring it. Figure out the true issue and take steps to address it.
Moving beyond our current skills can be daunting. Believe in yourself that you can do it. The “fight or flight” response can be intense in new situations where we may feel overwhelmed by the learning curve. Take it one step at a time. You’re bright, you’re smart, you’ll figure out how to learn all that you need. Facing this temporary fear leads us closer to where we ultimately want to go.
Feelings of frustration can occur when we think we’re stuck with absolutely no other choice. There’s always options and choices we can make. We just need to figure out what they are. Brainstorm and write down every idea you can think of. No censoring. No matter how crazy they sound, write them down. Maybe you can’t quit your job tomorrow and become an acrobat but you can certainly join a gymnastics group or even take a Club Med vacation where you can try out the trapeze. Once you start thinking about it, you’ll be amazed at how many possibilities you do come up with.
Once you figure out what you want or what’s bothering you, you now have a starting point of where you want to really go. Listen to your heart and you’ll be amazed at how fast the feelings of frustration are replaced by a feeling of relief or even excitement when you suddenly have a direction to go. No longer will you want to escape your life, you'll want to start living your life.
Escapist fantasies are important wake up calls. They’re a sign that you need to leave the world of “auto-pilot” and become conscious of what you’re doing now, what you want to be doing, and how you could be doing them. If nothing else, asking yourself the question of “what do I want?” will give you the opportunity to learn more about yourself. Understanding the desire to escape your life can end up being a turning points in your life. It's a gift from your subconscious, take it.
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