For the longest time the first thing I’ve done when I wake up is check my phone. See who’s texted me, check my emails, look at social media, see which of my friends’ life updates I’ve missed whilst I slept… Then I eat breakfast whilst watching TV or checking my phone again. After that, I’ll have a shower and get dressed whilst listening to music turned up super loud. Even though that may seem quite innocent to most, I’ve been realising lately that almost everything is a form of escapism. Smart phones, TV, music, politics, celebrity gossip… Anything to distract us from real life and our emotions.
As soon as I open my eyes in the morning I’m trying to find a distraction. But what’s so bad about just having a few moments alone with my thoughts when I wake up? It scares me that it feels weird if I don’t look at my phone as soon as I wake up or eat my breakfast without reading/watching something.
That’s just basic, every day ‘escaping reality’ but for me, and I’m sure a lot of others, it goes way deeper than that. People tend to get addicted to things that help them to escape reality- junk food, drinking, drugs, sex, pornography, smoking and a whole bunch of other things. If someone’s going through a break-up, most of the time their ‘cure’ is to go get drunk with their friends or hook up with someone new. If someone cries, people will do anything in their power to stop that person from being upset. Because these things are uncomfortable. It’s easier just to sweep emotions under the rug and focus on something else instead.
I began to notice that when I was feeling stressed, upset or angry, I would straight away search for a quick fix. Say for example eating junk food or sleeping. Something to make me feel good immediately without me having to deal with my negative emotions- and I guess that’s how addictions start. Dealing with negative emotions is extremely difficult and painful, so we try to skip the difficult part and go from sad to happy with the help of whatever addiction we have.
I’m trying really hard to just stop and think when I’m feeling down now. Instead of trying to distract myself straight away, I’ll just ask myself why I need a distraction. What am I running from? And I’ll write down what I’m feeling in that moment. Sometimes it helps greatly and other times it’s still a struggle but I’m glad I am at least aware of what I’m doing now.
In my darker struggles and my every day ‘escapism’ I’m continuing to try and just enjoy the moment that’s right in front of me at that time. Instead of distracting myself whilst eating I’ve been focusing on the food itself and appreciating how lucky I am to have food every day. Instead of blaring my music when I drive somewhere I’ve been driving in silence and appreciating the beauty around me- especially the beautiful skies Dundee has had lately. Instead of worrying about what’s going on in the news I’ve been focusing on my reality right in that moment. When I focus on now and not one second in the past or future, everything is always well.
Obviously there’s nothing wrong with watching TV or listening to music every once in a while. But lately I’ve been making it a priority to have more moments where I’ll just sit and be still. Just observe my thoughts, accept them and confront them. And it turns out that being alone with my thoughts isn’t the scary thing I’ve always made it out to be. It’s actually pretty cool.