9 Ways to Escape Being Present

Sometimes it’s just too painful to be in the present moment, right?

Just in case you don’t have a good repertoire of ways to escape the present, I’m going to share some of my tried-and-true methods, plus some that I know work for others.

These are all very effective ways to avoid the now.

1.  Think, think, and think some more.  Try to figure everything out.  Use your head. Ignore the rest of your body.  Intellectualize.  If you think hard enough, you’re sure to forget where you are and how you feel right now.

2.  Surf through, swim in, deep dive into the internet.  You can avoid the present for hours and hours and hours!  Watch YouTube videos.  Read about alien abductions. Research cat facts.  Browse StumbleUpon.  You’re learning all kinds of things that might be useful – certainly more useful than feeling your emotions at this moment.

3.  Binge on television, Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, whatever source you use for shows and programs.  Watch a Kevin Spacey character manipulate people in totally unrealistic ways.  See “real” housewives back-stab each other.  See how a seemingly vacuous and obscenely-rich person lives in his or her narcissistic world.  Watch anything. Avoid your world.

4.  Eat and/or drink too much.  Chips.  Sweets. Soft drinks.  Coffee.  Wine.  Cake. Whiskey.  Cookies.  Chocolate.  Beer.  Potatoes.  Bread.  Ice cream.  Pick your favorites and eat or drink until you feel miserable.  That misery is better than being present with this misery, right?

5.  Run and run and run some more.  Or go the the gym every single day for hours at a time.  Push your body until collapse every weekend.  Ride your bike, climb rocks, do any physical activity that wears you out so that you don’t have to be with whatever is bothering you, so that you only have to feel your physical self.  No need to feel emotions, too!

6.  Stay busy every second of your day.  Working, driving, texting, cleaning, shopping, talking, cooking.  Never stop for a second until your head hits the pillow. If you stay busy enough, you’ll be tired enough to fall asleep at that instant.  Who has the energy to deal with now and its pain if they’re exhausted?  Nobody, that’s who!

7.  Go somewhere.  Out to eat.  To church.  To a concert.  To a meeting.  To synagogue.  To a club.  To a rehearsal.  Any place or event can take you away from your pain for a few hours.  It’s even better if it’s a do-gooder kind of place like a religious organization, nonprofit, or the like.  That way you can pretend that your avoidance is for a higher power or good.  Surely that higher power won’t see through you, right?

8.  Sleep.  For hours and hours.  Sleep late.  Take long naps.  Go to bed really early. Your body needs the rest – week after week.  Who’s going to question good ol’ sleep?   Not you!

9.  Argue.  With anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with you.  Use Facebook, Twitter, comment sections to set people straight.  Argue with your spouse, your parents, your family, your friends, your enemies.  After all, they’re all ignorant and need to be set straight.  After all, you are more insightful and intelligent than they are.  You are RIGHT!!  No matter that they are just like you, just on the opposite side of the coin.  Ignore their obvious shadow qualities, the ones that reflect your qualities, the ones that you refuse to acknowledge.  After all, you’re avoiding pain here!

Yes, use any of the suggestions on this list to avoid the present and its pain, the discomfort that it might bring.

I’ve personally used each of these strategies to avoid a painful present.

And you know what?

They worked.

For a while.

But eventually they quit working.  And I had to confront what I was avoiding.  I was just older and more set in my ways.  It was harder for me to change than if I’d been present to begin with.

I have to say, though, thank God they quit working!  Even if I was middle-aged or older when they did.  I needed to be a better, more real, less judgmental, more present person.

Not that I have completely quit trying to use these.  I still find myself zoning out with my favorite escapes.

And not that they’re all bad, always escapes.  Done with awareness, with presence, most – if not all – of these activities can be ways to be in the now.

That’s where self honesty comes in.

Because no one, no one else truly knows your motivations.

But you do.

Only you do.

You may have to do some digging to get to the bottom of your true motives.  Actually, you will.

Because, you see, it’s very easy for us to fool ourselves!

I had to do lots of digging. Through rocks and mud.  And more rocks and mud. Layers and layers.  And more layers.

And I’m still digging.

Because when I feel that pain, I don’t want to be with it.

Even when I know that presence is the best choice.

It’s a deep hole.  But somehow the deeper I dig, the more freedom I feel.

You’d think it would be the opposite, wouldn’t you?  That the hole would feel confining, claustrophobic.

But it doesn’t.

Maybe because I’m getting closer to another side?

I don’t know.  I just know I have to keep digging.

Even when I don’t want to.

Yeah, I often put one or more of my nine escapes to use.  But at least now I’m starting to recognize it when I do.  I may not be able to stop right then.  But at some point I do . . . .

I get out my shovel.  Or I use my hands.

And I dig a little more.  And a little more.

And a little more.

I’ll just keep digging. For a lifetime.



Prairie dog in Moraine Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, May 2010





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