Stop Running Away from Yourself

All too often, we find excuses to avoid facing our inner problems. Many people find it easier to blame their problems on other people and external events than to look for the source of the trouble within. But the fear of dealing with your issues can lead to a vicious cycle of stress and self-defeating behaviors, and, in the long run, avoidance only makes your problems bigger and harder to overcome. When you learn to stop running away from yourself, you’ll reclaim a sense of peace and control over your life.


Identifying Your Problems

  1. Practice self-awareness. To be self-aware means to have the ability to see your true self without blinders. It involves accepting yourself as you are, and recognizing that you are all fallible. No one is perfect. Just as you provide others with empathy, patience, strength, humility, and love during stressful or challenging times, you need to show this for yourself too. Everyone makes mistakes, experiences stress, and has issues that arise throughout life, and the best way to get through all of this is through self-awareness and acceptance. Through self-awareness, you can learn what you need to do to make changes in life to resolve pending issues and in turn make you a better individual.
  2. Take time to think. If you’re feeling helpless or overwhelmed, it’s a sign that you need to take some time off and reflect. Identify the practical issues you’re dealing with. Then ask yourself which internal issues are driving these problems.[1]
    • For instance, if your grades have been slipping lately, the root cause could be something like perfectionism or depression.
    • If you have persistent negative thoughts about yourself, explore them. Try to identify the underlying fear or insecurity that’s causing them.
  3. Get some perspective. Look at your own life from the perspective of a neutral stranger. See if you can identify any recurring patterns of problematic behaviors. Getting outside yourself can make it easier to be objective about the issues you’re facing.[2]
    • If you’re having a hard time viewing your life in an objective way, ask a trusted friend or family member to help you identify your negative behavior patterns. You might say, "Hey, I have trouble getting perspective about some of my issues. What are some negative patterns or habits you see me doing that limit my growth and well-being?"
  4. Stop trying to escape. Escapism can take many forms – playing video games, browsing the internet, or even working too much. Simplify your life and drop any unnecessary distractions to get a clearer sense of what your problems are.[3]
    • For instance, you could decide to cut out movies and stop working overtime while you’re dealing with personal issues.
    • A little escapism isn’t always bad, but when you’re trying to face your problems, it will only hinder your progress.

Facing Your Problems

  1. Work up your courage. It takes great strength to deal with aspects of your personality that you don’t like or don’t understand. Take a deep breath and commit to working through your issues, no matter how uncomfortable the process is.[4]
    • Remind yourself how much happier and freer you will feel after acknowledging and dealing with your issues.
    • A great way to build courage is to repeat positive mantras like "You can do this" or "Everyone was once a beginner." Then, focus on taking a least one positive step towards your objectives.
  2. Forgive yourself for making human mistakes. No one is perfect, so don’t be too hard on yourself for the slip-ups you’ve had. Focus on improving yourself for the future, not berating yourself for the mistakes of the past.[5]
    • One good way to move on from the past is to write yourself an apology note. Mail the note to yourself. When it arrives, set aside some quiet time to read it and reflect.
  3. Don’t victimize yourself. Do your best to avoid self-victimization. When you are feeling victimized, you may be at higher risk of increased isolative and avoidance behaviors. You are not powerless, you have the choice to make changes in life, and to stand up and face all the challenges you are up against. You are going to face many obstacles in life that will cause issues and you are going to have to learn from them and try to resolve. Here are some victimizing thoughts you should avoid:
    • Justifying the various ways in which you were wronged in a particular situation.
    • Frequently complaining about how you were wronged, or how you now feel stuck and helpless in your issue, without trying to look at all the things you can do to change to fix things.
    • Obsessing and only focused about how you feel sad, angry, guilt, shame, helpless, or hopeless.
  4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. See if you can find a way to laugh about your mistakes. A little levity can help you let go of the past and feel more optimistic about the future.[6]
    • For instance, if you tend to play an embarrassing memory on repeat, finding the humor in the situation can help you get over it.
  5. Reflect on the principles and values that are important to you. Ask yourself whether you’re living according to your own moral compass, or whether you’ve adopted someone else’s. If you feel like you’re living with no sense of direction, think about how you can begin to chart a new course according to your own values.[7]
    • For instance, if integrity is important to you, but you’re working for a company that uses unethical methods to make a profit, you might decide to quit your job and look for one that doesn’t conflict with your values.
    • If you don’t have a good sense of what your values and principles are, explore different ideas by learning about the world. Read widely, talk to lots of different people, and keep up with current events. Knowledge will empower you to build a moral compass you believe in.
  6. Practice self-empowerment. Observe your current situation, and how you are currently responding. Are you self-aware, holding yourself accountable, and taking action to solve your concerns? Or are you self-victimizing and hiding from your concerns with negative emotions and isolative behaviors? Build a habit of self-empowerment in your life by doing the following:
    • Letting go of all negative victimizing thoughts and behaviors.
    • Taking personal responsibility and accountability for solving your problems, and owning up to your role to accomplish this task
    • Recognizing that change requires action, and will only happen when you change your thinking and behaviors.
  7. Determine whether you need professional help. If your problems are too deep-seated or overwhelming to deal with alone, make an appointment with a therapist or counselor. A professional can help you identify your problem behaviors and come up with healthy ways to cope.[8]
    • Seeing a therapist isn’t something to be ashamed of. It takes a lot of bravery to reach out for help. A therapist can help you identify ingrained beliefs you hold about yourself and others that may be holding you back. Plus, they offer an unbiased listening ear--unlike that of friends and family.
  8. Make a plan. Once you’ve acknowledged your problems, consider how you will go about solving them. Decide what you want your life to look like after resolving your issues, and think about the best way to get there. After that, come up with a series of action steps you can take to make it happen.[9]
    • For example, if your health is declining and you want to improve it, you could decide to start exercising. Some good action steps might include getting a pedometer, taking a walk after dinner every day, and researching gym memberships.

Moving Forward

  1. Practice mindfulness. Living in the present moment will help you deal with problems as they arise, instead of running away from them. To develop the habit of mindfulness, practice focusing all your attention on everyday tasks as you do them. Notice the physical sensations you feel, as well as the thoughts that pass through your mind.[10]
    • For instance, when you walk out your front door in the morning, notice the colors outside, the way the air smells, and the sensation of your feet on the ground.
  2. Address problems right away. Dealing with challenges is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Stay alert for new issues that need your attention, and face them sooner rather than later.[11]
    • Once you’re in the habit of being proactive, it’s easier to face your problems.
  3. Keep a journal. A journal is a great way to preserve your thoughts and track your progress. Establish the habit of writing at a certain time every day. Don’t worry about spelling or grammar – just get your thoughts down on paper.[12]
    • Writing in the evening lets you reflect on the events of the day. Consider making journaling part of your bedtime routine.
  4. Be true to yourself. Live in a way that feels authentic and comfortable for you. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t, even if you think that’s what other people want. Putting on a fake persona will drain your energy and lead to emotional problems like anger or depression.[13]
    • If you feel like your personality changes depending on where you are and who you’re with, you may not be staying true to yourself.
    • You can be truer to yourself by adding a filter to your actions and decisions. Before commencing, ask yourself "Who am I doing this for?" If you frequently find that the answer is someone else, you need to prioritize your own wants and needs.
  5. Be patient. Don’t expect to overcome all your issues overnight. Bigger problems may take months or even years to deal with completely. It’s normal to fail at things and have to start over occasionally, so don’t be too hard on yourself if your progress is slower than you’d like.[14]

Things You'll Need

  • Journal for aiding self-discovery

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Sources and Citations

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