It’s the easier option to chug along and plaster over the deepening cracks of life if you have them. You might be in a relationship that has lost it’s joy and connection. You may have withdrawn from the world – just existing rather than truly connecting with others around. It’s often easier to be superficial, never letting anyone get too close. That would mean making yourself vulnerable…that’s scary to many of us.
Some of my clients are very good at pretending that they have their live’s together when in fact they ‘wing it’ every day. We can all ‘put on a face’ when we leave the house and then retreat back to the person we truly are when we get home, away from prying eyes. The extent to which people live fake lives, existing rather than really living is immense. It’s easier to live ‘on the surface’ I like to call it…not really digging any deeper or asking yourself the questions that you know really need answering…
Am I in the right job/relationship?
Am I happy, truly happy?
Do I spend most of my time doing things that inspire me and engage me fully?
Do I spend time with people whom I really care about or are they just the ‘right’ people to be seen with?
The list goes on and many are happy to deny themselves the real stuff that’s in line with their true values. It’s often easier to live a life, like shallow breathing – it gets you around, you exist but but it doesn’t fill your entire being, it just helps you to survive. Are you a ‘shallow breather’?
Ways you may be avoiding the depper stuff in life
If you fear rejection or getting hurt, you may avoid dating and/or relationships. Esther Perel, a relationship expert talks about “stable ambiguity”. This refers to the tendency to want to meet people but to remain free and open to the vast array of options. Fewer want to truly commit due to the false ideas that there will be something better out there. This is a form of avoidant behaviour – not wanting to decide and staying on the periphery. The danger of this approach is that you may end up alone and not connected to anyone.
Many of us learn to disassociate from a young age – particularly if their home life was difficult. Numbing emotions is a defense mechanism to feel less. Feeling less emotions means less hurt. It also leads to existing rather than fully living. I liken it to being ‘unplugged’. Think of a lamp plugged into the wall – while it is plugged in it is susceptible to power surges or a lack electricity – kind of like the emotional ups and downs in real life. If the lamp is unplugged, they are not impacted y the electrical current but they cannot fufil their true function either and it’s the same in life. When you are ‘unplugged’ you are merely existing. Plug back and and learn how to FEEL again. The rewards far outweigh the disadvantages.
You can’t deal with a problem if you deny it even exists. Many people prefer to turn a blind eye to problems and act as if life is fine. You can only do this for so long before the issues come to a head. Ignoring issues is a short term strategy. You have to shut off from yourself to live a life where part of your existence has to be ignored or avoided on a cognitive level. Are there issues you are in denial of? Usually, we have an inkling that thing’s are off but we distract ourselves rather than dwell on it.
How to adopt approach-behaviour and live a connected life
Learn to connect with your emotions. Regularly check in with yourself and identify emotions. Ask yourself whether you are happy or sad and what makes you feel that way? The more often you do this the closer you will get to understanding yourself and bringing more of what makes you happy into your life.
Connect with others – stop avoiding. Take it one small step at a time. You don’t have to go out straight away and become the town social butterfly. Join an online forum to begin with, maybe meet a friend for a coffee date. Work your way up to spending more hours per week with others. Go listen to interesting talks in your area or join a yoga/art/pottery class.
Talk more about what you’re feeling – share this with others. It’s one of the greatest feelings in life to connect with another like-minded human being. It’s a game of numbers, the more people you get to know the more likely you will be to find someone similar to you that really gets you.
Be true to you – don’t suppress who you are to keep others happy or to fit in. Those that care will like you as you are.
Figure out what you tend to avoid and do the OPPOSITE – face your fears. Baby steps will do it. Constantly keep ‘attacking’ that safe comfort zone of yours. It’s safe and predictable but it’s also monotonous and can be lonely and isolating.
There is a world out there interesting in relating to you and finding out more about you. I am sure you too, have a lot to share with others. We all have our unique stories, skills and talents to share.