How to Stop Running Away From Problems

52 exercises jogging

One of the things that pissed me off about going to therapy was that every time I went to see my therapist a new problem was revealed. But no matter how hard it was, I finally stopped running away from my problems and focused on learning to live with them.

I started seeing a therapist to address issues with depression. Then it transpired that I had anxiety and probably some form of social anxiety too.

Next I had issues around trust. Then addiction problems. Well, actually I knew about those. I think almost everyone’s addicted to something.

Soon I discovered I was an emotional retard who was totally out of touch with my emotions. Okay, I’m exaggerating but you get the idea. Then I noticed I was also out of touch with my body. Duh! And so it went on.

When I stopped running away from my problems I had time to notice exactly what they were.

Understandably I got fed up with therapy and all these unwanted revelations but I persevered because, even though these discoveries made me more depressed, they also make me more desperate to heal myself. So I worked hard on self awareness at home as well as on the couch.

I wrote heaps, digging down into my inner psyche and learning about myself that way. I read psychology, mindfulness and mediation books galore. I meditated and practiced mindfulness daily. And those four things are what helped me finally stop running away from my problems and accepting them as just another part of me.

But what pissed me off most was that the therapist sat there and did nothing in our sessions then, after I’d done all the hard work, he took all the credit. So annoying.

This year I have a new therapist. Well, new but not new, because I saw her in group therapy for a year So I got to interview my new therapist for a year during the group sessions and overcome my trust issues (it takes time!) before I started seeing her alone.

Group sessions are hard but private therapy sessions seem easier. I feel better now but I surprise myself by crying each time I talk with her about why I’m still going to see a therapist, how I feel and what’s making me anxious.

In my first solo session the therapist mentioned that I’ve used fantasy to cope with the bad things that life’s thrown at me. I realize she’s politely raising another psychological problem I have and calling me a fantasist. I realize that it’s kind of true.

I’ve been creating stories my whole life, weaving detailed myths about my past that are so far from the truth I actually believed them for many, many years.

I bury myself in books. I run away from my problems either by self-medicating or by actually getting on a plane and physically removing myself from them. But the problems have been following me because you can’t run away from yourself and now those problems have multiplied, ganged up on me and pulled me down.

My homework was to take note of the times I want to run away and see if it happens because I want to move towards my values of adventure, learning and new discoveries, or because I want to avoid the pain of arguments, adult decisions or standing up for myself against others.

It’s hard for me to untangle the web. There are so many threads woven into the tapestry of my life, threads that have created a pattern I know so well. Now I have to untangle them and break that pattern, start afresh with the same thread and create a brighter picture. A picture that I’ve envisioned and worked on, not one that’s just slowly built up haphazardly over time.

When you tidy your house or a cupboard there comes a stage where everything is even worse than before, where all the mess is piled up haphazardly and the muddle has multiplied. That’s where I’m at right now with my therapy, my self-awareness and my life. There’s still a lot of work to be done but it’s time for me to throw out what I don’t need, tidy up the things I do want to hold onto and enjoy having a clean house.

Travel is my favorite fantasy, my favorite escape but it’s also my favorite adventure. And I want to keep running towards adventure, I just need to make sure that I stop running away from problems or anything else.

The real world is hard and the fantasy world is so appealing. We feel safe and loved in our fantasies, we feel fulfilled and challenged. We all need to feel those four things in the real world and we can, it’s just hard to balance them all.

So I’ll probably always be a bit of a fantasist and that’s okay. Just as long as I keep my feet on the ground and stop running away, no matter what problems crop up or how pissed off I feel.

How to stop running away from problems cheatsheet:

  1. Keep a journal, write daily to gain self awareness.
  2. Read constantly online, blogs, books and magazines. Leave no stone unturned and learn as much as you can about how our brains work. You might want to start with some of the books that changed my life.
  3. Meditate every day. Ten minutes is enough to make a difference. No excuses. Start learning how to meditate right now.
  4. Mindfulness is a miracle cure for all your personal problems. Start by learning about mindfulness for beginners and reading books about mindfulness, but most of all practice mindfulness every single day.

If you enjoyed this post, please share it with any friends it would help.

Have you got any tips on how to stop running away from problems?

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  1. Sandra Pawula June 16, 2014 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Dear Annabel,

    I think that’s a great example: how everything seems more a mess when we’re in the middle of tidying up. I think you have a great approach to moving through all this. I like your four recommendations and I’m impressed with how dedicated your are.

    At the same time, I think we sometimes just need to let go too. As you suggest, just remain in the present moment and take a break from having to fix everything with our conceptual mind.

    • Annabel Candy June 16, 2014 at 9:29 am - Reply

      Hi Sandra,

      Thank you. So true that once you just let the problems be they seem to lose power anyway. Running away from problems has been a speciality of mine (I’ve lived in eight different countries!) so very happy with the progress I’m making leaning how not to run away from problems!

  2. Lisa Alexiou June 16, 2014 at 10:05 pm - Reply

    Always insightful, raw and real x

  3. Barbara June 17, 2014 at 4:32 am - Reply

    You are very brave, and awesomely generous, in sharing your soul like this, Annabel. I believe everyone can benefit from seeing a good therapist, and my husband and I have been blessed with one of the very best. And, even though we’ve sludged through all the big and tough issues, we still occasionally need a tune-up. It keeps you grounded, I think.

    Really proud of how you are not just tackling your issues, but how you are sharing the journey. You may very well help lots of others.

    • Annabel Candy June 17, 2014 at 8:58 am - Reply

      Hi Barbara,

      That’s great to hear and much appreciated.

  4. Red Nomad OZ June 19, 2014 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Hi Annabel! Looks like we have a whole lot in common!! Except for the bit about facing up to problems – I’m still well entrenched in the ‘running away’ phase. So thanks for the advice – one day I may just be brave enough to take it!!

    • Annabel Candy June 19, 2014 at 10:38 am - Reply

      Hi Red,

      The problem is that running away is so fun! So many places to visit :)

  5. Seana June 20, 2014 at 8:54 am - Reply

    This is so well written Annabel and full of relatable matters. And you’ve given me an ‘aha’ moment… I’ve often thought of my love of travel as escapism, it certainly started that way when I was a teenager, but as you wrote it is about adventure too. I used to do ‘geographics’ as they say in AA, all the time… and even living here in Oz has that involved.. but I do love adventure too and love the hyper awareness in the senses when in new places. It’s OK to have a bit of both in my longings to wander.

    • Annabel Candy June 20, 2014 at 9:03 am - Reply

      Hi Seana, love that aha moment. I’m working on noticing, whenever I start fantasizing about my next trip, if I’m running away from problems or running towards adventure. Sometimes it’s a bit of both but I’m working on being guided by towards moves and not away moves in everything I do. Hope that makes sense :)

  6. Penelope June 23, 2014 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    Those therapists have to find “something” wrong with you to keep the session money flowing. I think your daily practice that you have outlined we do you far more good at this point than seeing any more of these guys!

  7. Rita Vail June 24, 2014 at 2:33 am - Reply

    Wow. You hit a nerve. Yowser. Thank you for the deep sharing and good advice. I will take it. Yesterday my ex-husband told me that oldest daughter declared me bi-polar during her years-of-total-war with me. I think it is important to remember that mums get a lot of blame, especially the ones who care enough to hold the line. You have to wait until the kids are in their 40s before the mum can be declared sane after all, and maybe even heroic. How can anyone hold on to a shred of sanity in this crazy world while raising kids?

    • Annabel Candy June 24, 2014 at 9:19 am - Reply

      Hi Rita,

      It is hard having the strength to stand up to your kids. And in answer to your great question – no idea ;)

  8. Judy Hackett June 27, 2014 at 3:35 pm - Reply

    Annabel you are awesome sharing those details in order to help others. Thankyou.
    I can relate to a lot of what you wrote. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve moved locally, interstate and internationally! I’ve lived in friends houses, cruise ship cabins, a run down house in Ukraine, a university dormitory with international students in Hawaii, a dormitory in Montana, lived in three Boarding Schools in UK whilst caring for the students……oh the list goes on!! Maybe I need a therapist too! One day I may backtrack and count it up. It all began with being divorced 14 years ago. I have always loved to travel overseas and experience different cultures and live amongst the people. I’ve learnt so much about others and myself in those years and done things that would have been impossible had I had a husband alongside. I count my blessings that I’m still sane (hopefully!) and blessed from all these amazing experiences I’ve had. I too, lose myself in adventure books. Ha ha…me, a 64 year old grandmother doing all these things instead of knitting and babysitting. My kids really have their hands full. LOVE your blog Annabel so keep being true to yourself.
    Cheers, Jude

  9. JanDirk March 11, 2015 at 7:11 am - Reply

    I would say to stop running away from your problems is to simply take responsibility for them even though it may be difficult for you. You really need to face problems as soon as possible. Leaving problems will eat at you.

    Taking responsibility simply means you take the power back into your hands to take control of the problem.

    Being able to forgive yourself is a real big deal. Often we beat ourselves up over our problems.

    Courage is whats’s needed to face your problems and you build courage by facing things even if you are scared of them.

    Therapy usually just brings back old trauma and make you believe that you’re more broken than you truly are.

    Have you tried EFT tapping?

  10. Sarah May 6, 2015 at 4:20 pm - Reply

    This was a wonderful read. I am so glad I found it.
    Thank you for writing about how to stop running away from problems!

  11. Kartikee Elkunchwar May 31, 2015 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Reading this post was felt like it was written based on me and my life. I’m at the stage where I’m slowly realizing my problems and have no idea how to go on about dealing with them. This post kind of gave me hope that I could be better. I’m just not sure where to start.

  12. Erin Elizabeth Wells June 24, 2016 at 1:56 am - Reply

    Hey Annabel,
    Glad you found a new therapist! (Gotta say doesn’t sound like the old one was a good fit for you.)
    I love your daily practices, and one of the practices that I added to help me with mental mindset shifts was writing a daily empowering question in my journal. (You can find a blog post about it on my blog.)

    I found that starting each day by asking myself a question that focused on what I wanted to create or invite into my life helped tremendously with emotional dips and mindset challenges.

    Keep up the good mindfulness work :)… the whole world needs more mindful people.

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