Home Health Want to disappear or run away: what it means, how to manage it

Want to disappear or run away: what it means, how to manage it

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Want to disappear or run away: what it means, how to manage it
want to disappear escape psychology

Photo: Joshua Earle, Unsplash.

“He was finally free, emancipated from the suffocating world of his parents and peers, a world of abstraction, security and material excess, a world in which he felt severely cut off from the raw heartbeat of existence,” wrote Christopher McCandless’s Jon Krakauer in book (and then film) Into the Wild – In the extreme lands.

The book tells the true story of McCandless, who gave up his material properties to hitchhike to Alaska and disappear into nature. Not everyone has the same enthusiasm for the wilds, but it seems that many people share a desire to leave it all behind. Social media is full of memes about wanting to disappear without giving an explanation. It is not a question of vacationing or dying, but more of escaping from suffocating situations or situations that appear hopeless.

But what does it really mean to want to disappear, and is it possible to do so?

“It’s normal to fantasize about wanting to run away from time to time,” clinical psychologist Therese Mascardo told VICE. “The escape fantasy is a widespread mechanism for superficially relieving some of the pressure of more difficult or complicated feelings.”

Psychologists say the human brain is built to react to stress in four basic ways: attack (fight), freezing (freeze), complacency (fawn) to bloom (flight). The attack reaction expects the perceived threat to be dealt with aggressively. The freezing reaction uses stillness to avoid danger or renders the subject unable to act against it. The complacency reaction is the attempt to please the other person in order to avoid a conflict. And the flight reaction involves immediate escape from the dangerous situation.

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Running away, then, is simply one of the ways humans have to deal with life when it gets tough. “It is installed by default in our survival instinct,” Mascardo explained.

Oftentimes, the desire to run away comes when you are feeling overwhelmed and in need of relief. According to Mascardo, many things are happening in the world and many people feel more isolated than ever.

“When you think about issues like the environment, violence, pandemics or the economy, many people feel helpless and hopeless, which leads to a sense of hopelessness. I have noticed this in my patients in sessions when they say things like: ‘What’s the point if the world is going to end in 50 years because of climate change?’ ”

Wanting to disappear, therefore, is often an indication that there is something wrong with your life and you need to give it proper attention and care.

Those who say they want to disappear could actually mean: I feel lonely and I need love, I feel sad and I need comfort or things that bring me joy, I feel ashamed and I need to know that I am a decent person, I feel tired and I need to rest. I feel overwhelmed and I need a plan, o I feel lost and I need a purpose.

“Ultimately, the idea that running away can solve any problem is a distortion of thinking, but it can give a momentary sense of comfort to imagine having the chance to escape for a while,” Mascardo said.

Of course, few can afford to leave an entire life behind and disappear for long periods, but the psychologist shared some tips with us to manage this feeling.

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Get some space for yourself

In stressful situations, walking away and distancing yourself for some time can help reduce feelings of overload and helplessness. It can also be as simple as getting up from your desk when work gets too stressful and taking a short walk before replying to the next email.

Relax

“Today’s work culture wants to convince us that rest is for the weak, but the truth is that rest is essential to achieve our results,” Mascardo stressed, stating that taking a break from pressures, activity and from pretending that everything is fine is essential. We need naps, we need vacations, and we need time without facilities where no one expects us to be productive.

Practice mindfulness

According to Mascardo, mindfulness meditation is one of the most accessible and scientifically sound practices for improving personal well-being. Those who don’t know where or how to start can find tons of online resources. One of the easiest ways to start practicing mindfulness is to pay attention to your breath and count.

Laugh and play

The obsession with productivity and profit has made us forget how to play and have fun just for fun, ”noted Mascardo. She suggests painting, singing and laughter in company to calm anxiety.

Get moving

The benefits of movement aren’t limited to weight loss or body modification. Mascardo said certain types of exercise, such as walking or dancing, are particularly effective for reducing stress.

But he also pointed to another way to manage the urge to disappear: tackle the chest problem.

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“The most effective thing a person can do to get rid of the desire to escape is to address the root cause of their distress. In other words, identify and act directly on the need for him, whether it is a need for support, love, kindness, joy, rest or purpose. “

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