I couldn’t believe it was happening again! For the third morning in a row, I rolled over in bed, hit the snooze button and pulled the covers over my head. I didn’t want to face another stress-filled 10 hour day. The fact that I had to pee really badly was the only thing that got me up and out of bed. Only a year and a half into my “dream job,” why did I feel like quitting? Was something wrong with me?
The feeling of wanting to escape is one I’ve become familiar with over the years. It usually begins slowly like grey clouds rolling in before a storm. I can’t always predict when it’s coming or pinpoint the exact cause, but it’s not one that will go away until something changes.
I don’t know how many people share my experience, but I suspect it’s not uncommon. When the urge to flee our own circumstances takes root, what’s really going on? And what can we do about it short of buying a ticket on the first train out?
I’ve learned to identify the symptoms of unease and recognize it for what it is and that’s an important first step in learning how to handle the desire to run! Feeling the need to escape is an indicator that we’re uncomfortable with what we’ve created in our lives. What we most need in those circumstances is to become quiet, so we can discern the cause of our discomfort.
At first, it may seem like any number of external circumstances are the “problem.” Our job, our boss, spouse or another person in our life, our looks/body, or our financial picture can all act like culprits, causing our fight or flight response. Quitting our circumstances seems like the only answer! But is it?
One thing is true, change is needed. But changing our external environment might bring momentary relief, but it isn’t the long term cure for what’s bugging us, only a band-aid fix at best. Taking time to get quiet, to explore the symptoms with great acuity and discernment will often reveal a thing we need to change from within. Some great questions to ask ourselves might be:
What are you ignoring that is important to you?
Where in your life have you sacrificed something that really matters to you?
In what ways are you not taking care of yourself?
In what ways have you “sold out” on your big picture or vision for your life? What have you given up on?
What do you need to do more regularly to feel whole and integral?
Feeling like running away from your life can be a clear sign that you’re spinning your wheels trying to please others and make a good appearance in life. What you’re creating as a result might not be moving you in the right direction of your essential purpose. When you feel that way, it’s important not to make any rash decisions. Instead, take the time to find out what you need to change in yourself first.
Shifting gears into a more positive direction prevents us from blaming our external circumstances for our unhappiness. It gets us focused again toward our purpose and the important things that matter in our lives. In the end, we may still end up leaving a situation or persons behind, but not because they made us unhappy or caused our discontent, but because we have better, more important things to do. We won’t be running from negativity. Instead, our movement will be the result of something stronger pulling us in a positive direction.
For me, I realized I’d been putting in too many hours on the job trying to make something work that just needed more patience and time. On top of that, I wasn’t getting in my regular exercise nor was I making time for writing on a regular basis. I was too often letting work come between me and my life. Even though I loved my job, it was taking precedence in my life and that’s usually a great recipe for burnout, which I was facing every morning. I made those simple changes to exercise and write everyday regardless of what my job “needed,” and as a result, my life started coming back into balance and the desire to run faded away.