It’s been my experience that it is much better to be moving toward something great than moving away from something awful. Obviously a single situation often contains both sides of this equation, but it is important to recognize our perspective in the matter.
For example, addicts will often seek out a “geographic” solution to their problem. They’ll say, “I just can’t take this anymore. I need to go somewhere (anywhere) else and start over.” A client and I once had a good laugh when he related how he tried this once. He decided to move to the “middle of nowhere” USA to get away from the drug scene. Unfortunately, he met a dealer on the bus he was riding and was so high by the time he got to his destination that he was promptly arrested. A similar situation is faced by the victim of an abusive relationship. Its common that he or she will focus exclusively on getting away from the current abuser… only to land in the arms of the next abuser.
When you hear yourself say, “I just need to get away from ,” stop and ask yourself where exactly you are going? Obviously, when one finds oneself in a dangerous situation it is necessary to get to any place of safety as quickly as possible. But sooner or later, you have to start thinking about what you really want that place to look like.
Actively pursuing solution-oriented goals is much better than passively reacting to negative situations. One should not give undue power to negativity by using it as a guide for life – habitually moving away from one bad scene after another. Instead, we should preemptively seek out and pursue the places and people that best fit our personalities, talents, and desires. Moving forward in this way is the best way to avoid negativity. But in order to do this we must first find an internal drive – the nucleus of power and inspiration that can push us forward to grow, create, and nurture.
We are all born with a profound motivation to explore and discover. Each of us has innate likes and dislikes that draw us to certain types of people and environments. Picture the wide-eyed wonder on the faces of children as they enter a place they’ve never been before. Meditate on your inner sense of comfort when you have a conversation with somebody that really “gets you.” Unfortunately, this sense of wonder and awareness of our personal preferences can get lost in the process of growing up.
There are many opportunities to get hurt when we are out exploring the world – especially during adolescence. Someone may make fun of our awkward first steps into a new activity. A best friend today may be completely disinterested tomorrow. An unkind or thoughtless statement about our looks may hurt us badly. Many people learn to shut down during this time and not care – because caring seems to be a set up for getting hurt. This leads to what I call whatever-itis. As teenagers we learn that it’s cool not to care and it hurts less to live in this numbed state. But in the process our essential selves are lost and we begin to increasingly identify with the various personae, or masks, that we wear to keep us safe.
We can reclaim our sense of wonder at discovery – our internal drive – by finding people who accept and love us for who we really are. This may require developing new relationships or reaffirming connections to people who have always been around but not appreciated. A grandparent is an archetype of this kind of person. However, if we’re not yet ready (or able) to connect so deeply with another person we may want to do something like getting a pet – dogs are fabulously non-judgmental! If being in nature makes you feel at peace with yourself then get outside on a regular basis and explore. Do whatever it takes to learn how to be fully present and emotionally available so your innate desire to create and transform your world is awakened. You will soon discover that wherever you “are” can be a great place – and others will likely want to join you there.