Today's life is a stressful adventure, an increasingly accelerated journey towards nothingness that often ends up distressing us. To deal with everyday problems - and the less common ones - we all practice different tactics.
You may not be fully aware of the ones you are using, but that doesn't mean you don't use them to deal with stressful and conflicting situations. These strategies have two essential objectives: to keep you afloat in the most difficult times and to solve the problem.
But not all strategies are effective, mature and healthy on a psychological level. Some can even create more problems than they solve by causing you to hit bottom emotionally. Escape from reality is one of them. And all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, are fugitives.
What is escape from reality? Psychology of escapism
Escape from reality is a coping strategy that involves a tendency to escape from the real world in search of the desired safety and tranquility in a fantasy world. It usually implies an uprooting from reality to find refuge in an imaginary and parallel universe, although it can also involve fantasies related to a better, more powerful, successful or important "me".
It is also known as Houdini syndrome, alluding to the faculties of the legendary XNUMXth-century Hungarian illusionist. However, in Psychology, escape from reality is an escape mechanism that involves running away from conflicts, problems and / or daily responsibilities.
The most common escape strategies from reality to escape from reality
There are several ways to escape from a reality that we don't like. Some may spend hours trying to unlock the next level of a video game while others get lost in the black hole of social networks. There are those who spend all their free time watching television serials and those who flee through the pages of a book or engage in activities that have no meaning or relevance when they have much more important and peremptory things to do.
It is no coincidence that a study conducted at the University of Mannheim revealed that the amount of hours adults spend watching television is an indicator of their level of escape from reality. These psychologists have found that those who feel less need for self-reflection and insight tend to spend more hours on television.
In today's world, the preferred form of escapism is the compulsive need to be constantly involved in electronic life, constantly searching for seemingly important information, playing games or peeking into social networks. In fact, several studies, including one conducted at Duzce University, have found a connection between the time we spend in social networks and the Internet in a general sense and the trend towards evasion.
Travel can also be a way to escape from reality, as indicated by researchers at the University of Surrey, especially when the purpose of these trips is not to discover a new place, but only to escape from the place where we are because for us it is unbearable. .
Obviously, drugs and alcohol are also extreme ways to escape from reality because they alter our cognitive functions, produce a disconnection from our "I" and make it easier for us to ignore reality, also causing enormous physical and psychological damage.
In reality, everyone chooses their preferred method of escape and plunges into the alternate universe that they have created to their size, to avoid an overwhelming reality that they do not want to face.
From healthy escape to toxic escape
We all have a fugitive potential inside. From time to time we feel the need to change, disconnect, reset… That's why we go on vacation, read novels, watch TV or kitten videos on Youtube.
Sigmund Freud himself believed that the desire to escape from reality was part of the human condition. "People cannot survive with the little satisfaction they can steal from reality," he wrote.
The desire to escape, in itself, is neither good nor bad. In some cases, the function of evasion techniques is to allow us to better deal with a world that is too distressing, which seems impossible to manage and threatens to destroy an "I" that is not going through its best moment.
Taking a break, relaxing, and letting go of certain worries can be healthy. From time to time it is nice to escape to a more comfortable world, without responsibilities, problems and conflicts. These moments can help us take the necessary psychological distance to solve the problem.
However, when escape from reality becomes the "SOLUTION", the ultimate non-confrontation strategy, it is likely that sooner or later we will have a much bigger problem than the one we were trying to escape from.
Stop running away and start facing
Since all of us, to a greater or lesser extent, practice escapism strategies, it is important to be aware of them. Virtually any activity can become an escape valve from reality, many of these behaviors can even seem positive. The key is to ask yourself if they are just excuses to avoid the necessary self-reflection.
Having a glass of wine while listening to music after a long day at work can be a pleasant way to unwind. But if as soon as you get home you look for the bottle because you can't manage your reality, you have to stop and ask yourself what problem you need to solve.
The more time we spend escaping, the less time we will have to reflect on what is happening to us and what we are feeling. We must be aware that always running will not take us away from our fears, on the contrary, it will only make them worse because there is no place in the world where you can escape from yourself.
A study conducted at the University of Leiden warns us that people who consistently avoid dealing with their intense emotions experience more intense feelings of anxiety and emotional distress over time. The tendency to escape psychologically can become a dangerous snowball that turns into an avalanche as it descends the mountain. The problem will continue to grow as we feel "safe" in another universe.
Therefore, it is important to remember that no matter how comforting it is, escaping through the pages of books, on social networks, watching television or doing any other activity that allows us to disconnect from worries, the problems will not go away on their own, as will the problems. stressful situations or the conflicts that generated them.
While escape from reality can serve as a technique for dealing with punctual stress when we feel overwhelmed, we need to be mature enough to know when it's time to get back to reality and deal with the problem.
As we continue to avoid the problem, the stress will remain and this will lead us to want to avoid an increasingly threatening reality, closing ourselves in a vicious circle.
The 3 questions to regain control
The first step in breaking the vicious circle of tax evasion is to recognize that we are fleeing. To do this, just answer a question honestly: will what I'm doing help me solve the problem?
The second step is to determine exactly what we are running away from, what problem is distressing us. To do this, you can ask yourself a simple question: What worries / scares me / distress?
And the third step is to find solutions that allow us to resolve what concerns us or, at least, mitigate the tension. Can you help us ask ourselves: what do I want my life to be like? And then we have to get to work.