The human mind reacts in different ways to negative experiences with great impact. From blocking yourself to starting to spin a series of worrisome thoughts or, in some cases, creating an escape path to escape that unpleasant reality. The problem is that, most of the time, this flight, far from dissipating the anguish, strengthens and enhances it, especially if it is based on expectations and assumptions.
Sometimes the human being perceives as dangerous situations that they are not. It usually happens because you associate them with shocking experiences from the past, even if they have nothing to do with it. Like when all people are feared, because in the past some were cruel or abusive.
” The flight has taken no one anywhere .”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry-
The truth is that the mind creates these escape routes as mechanisms to protect itself and control anxiety. Here are three of those escape routes that, far from calming anxiety, end up increasing it.
1. Placing yourself in a threatening future
The reasonable thing is that if we expose ourselves to a threatening situation , we analyze it, face it and overcome it as much as possible. However, when there are negative experiences from the past hanging over our lives, we may not be able to act reasonably.
It happens on countless occasions that instead of identifying and assuming the threat, we rather look for escape routes. One of them is placing ourselves in a terrible future. Let’s look at an example. We lost our jobs and we have outstanding bank debts. The reasonable thing to do would be to work hard to find a new job and perhaps attempt a debt renegotiation with the bank.
However, if someone in the past has had a traumatic experience related to exclusion or unemployment, they might act differently. You may be overwhelmed by anxiety and spend a lot of time imagining a terrible future. She will see herself begging in the streets, or in jail. Then, neither does he assume what is in front of him, nor do the escape routes that arise lead him to solve his problem.
2. Comparing oneself with ideal models, another of the escape routes
Sometimes we are very good at blaming ourselves. And it is not uncommon for anguish to induce us to take one of those escape routes related to martyrdom. Instead of analyzing how to fix a mistake or learn from it, we begin to beat ourselves up thinking about all that we could have done and did not do. Or in everything that we could be and are not.
One of the escape routes from anguish is to compare ourselves with the models of ideals. Of course, to lose out. This is the result of past experiences that impacted us emotionally, particularly rejection or punishment for not having done “the right thing” at some point. And they are reflected like this in the present, as an excessive anguish in the face of any failure that we have.
3. Go back to the past to relive situations that are no longer there
Another escape route from anguish leads to the past. This happens when we are facing a frustrating or painful situation that we cannot accept. The most common is that this happens when we have an affective loss, either due to death or because a relationship that ended or was frustrated. As a result, we experience a lot of anxiety and try to dispel it by returning, again and again, to the memories of what once was, but is no longer.
This way of acting does not dissipate the distress of the situation either. Perhaps we do not feel somewhat comforted when we review those events of yesterday. However, sooner or later we have to return to the present and we experience anxiety again with all its might. It is a great emotional drain to go through this. However, we do not realize that we would spend less energy working to accept what happened, than going back over and over again yesterday.
As we can see, it is very important that we work to elaborate all traumatic experiences of the past. These are never forgotten, although they can be relegated or repressed. But they are still there, haunting our present. Hence the importance of facing these negative situations, working on them and getting rid of them. When we don’t, they end up seeping out like anguish. Therefore, they easily lead us to some of the escape routes, which in turn nurture new anxieties.
Fleeing is not the answer
Thinking about a flight can be a way of feeling safe elsewhere: wanting to get away from what hurts us is a common wish, but is it the solution?