I was 11 years old the first time I ran away from my problems. I was sick and tired of my alcoholic and abusive dad beating on me and decided to escape his beatings. I ran right through the front door and about a mile and a half to a friend's house. It was the most liberating and freeing experience I had ever had at that point in my young life. As I grew older, I continued to run away from my dad, but usually stayed at a friend's or family member's house for a few days at a time. However, the most freeing escape I had experienced was when I left my hometown at the age of 17 to go live in another state with my aunt. I spent my entire teenage years running away from something. Inevitably, I carried this mindset of running away from my problems into adulthood. Anytime I felt uncomfortable, dissatisfied, or unhappy with the way my life was, I looked for a way out. My escapes turned into drinking and partying, food, relationships, relocating, and the list went on and on. That internal nagging feeling that something wasn't right or needed to be addressed is what I was ignoring. Yet, I continued to seek external answers to my internal problems. And regardless of whatever method I chose as a form of evasion, my internal woes were right there with me each time. I was living in an endless cycle of avoidance.
I've learned throughout my lifelong commitment to a self-development journey, that when I'm desperately seeking an outside solution of some sort, or trying to run away from a problem, that I need to search within first. When I returned to my hometown as an adult to begin my career, I often complained about the size of the city I was in, the mindset of the people I was around, and the location in the country I was in. I was trying to elude something else. I spent time researching and applying for jobs in other locations, to no avail. I eventually realized I was trying to run away from the internal pain I was refusing to face. I did not want to face the fact that I had some internal healing to do. Once I came to terms with this, I began to do the inner work required to heal my heart and soul. Soon it became evident that it wasn't necessarily my external world that was causing me such angst. It was my internal world that was probing me to look within. Once I did so, I was able to experience life with a new perspective and clear heart.
Each time I wanted to change something in my outer world, it was because there was something in my inner world that I neglected to address. Nothing in my outer world could change until I changed what was going on within myself. It could have been my perception of a situation, harboring negative feelings that weren't serving me well, or any other internal agonies one can imagine that strongly influenced my way of living. I was reminded of this recently when I got the escape bug again. I wanted to escape everything; my relationship, career, location, you name it. I wanted to disappear, create a new name, and start life all over again. I know this sounds a bit dramatic, but this is exactly how I felt. Since I was fully aware this un-comfortability I was experiencing was familiar, I decided to get still for a bit to pray and meditate, and to listen to my internal cries. I realized that I was neglecting myself. I was putting everything and everyone above my own self-care. Consequently, this drove me to a point of depression, disappointment, and feeling utterly and completely drained. I took this new information and decided to do something about it. I re-prioritized my life by placing more importance and value on my own self-care. If I'm not physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally healthy, then I am no good to anyone else in my life. Had I just ran away to a new location, and forsake all that I knew, I would have carried that internal turmoil with me to a new world. Although I may have been in a new place, I would not have had the peace, joy, love, and happiness I truly desired. Let's face it, peace, joy, love and happiness is the ultimate goal in life. Without it, life seems to be meaningless. With it, life is a fulfilling, abundant, and miraculous experience. I chose to experience the latter.
I also began to practice more gratitude for where I was, what I had, and who was in my life. By doing this, my outer world didn't seem to be as bad as I thought after all. By listening to my internal cries, and addressing them accordingly, I freed myself of any pain, baggage and agony that was robbing me of my peace, joy, love, and happiness. I also gained a greater appreciation for my life and a higher level of clarity for myself as well. This approach has inevitably caused my outer world to change. By going within first and getting to the root of my problem, I am able to create a lasting solution. Running away from my problems has never made my problems disappear. In fact, it only causes them to fester and eventually, manifest in an ugly way.
Are you trying to run away from something? Recently I began reading Michael Singer's "The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself." This New York Times Bestseller has already captured my full attention! So much so that I wanted to share a passage with you, in hopes it may enlighten and inspire you on your respective journey.
"To attain true inner freedom, you must be able to objectively watch your problems instead of being lost in them.... The first problem you have to deal with is your own reaction. You will not be able to solve anything outside until you own how the situation affects you inside... This involves a change from "outer solution consciousness" to "inner solution consciousness." ..."
This passage spoke so profoundly to me that I just knew it would resonate with you too! The author brilliantly shares how the answers to our problems are not "out there somewhere" rather, they are inside of us. We just have to get silent enough to hear them. Are you getting silent enough to hear?