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Can you relate? I've worked on self-awareness, healing and personal growth for many years now. This year, though, through a powerful program offered through my church, I realized that I am still running from unacknowledged pain and the pain comes from both old and new sources.

I hadn't seen some my favorite pastimes as being compulsive routes of escape, but they have been and often still are. It's easy to see that eating an entire cake, or drinking wine when stressed or anxious, could be an addictive form of behavior. But watching hours of Netflix? Living for the next vacation?

Art of Living Happy: After the Loss of a Loved One: A Real-Life Awakening (Unabridged)

Check, check. One of the basics that this program suggested was to intentionally sit with your pain. Connect with it and acknowledge it instead of numbing it, and see if you can identify the source of it. Pray for help in facing it and healing it, particularly if you have no idea where it's coming from. I started noticing that during certain stressful moments, often while having a conversation with someone, I would get a "pop-up" in my brain that urged me to stop at a bakery on the way home and buy some cake.

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Rather than just knee-jerkedly responding to the call for cake, I learned to understand that this was a sign that stress or pain was being triggered in me, even if it wasn't obvious. It actually had nothing to do with cake, though cake and other sweet treats had been a way of numbing my discomfort and loss since I was a girl. Instead of obediently marching to the store, I have learned that the proper response to the "pop-up" is to go home, sit on my sofa, and try to connect with what I'm truly concerned or grieved about.

And pray about it.

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Or journal about it. It's not about entirely avoiding food or wine or entertainment, but rather to notice when you're using it as a means to numb out or escape. If you're honest with yourself, you'll start to notice this. In the last couple of years I've been going through a particularly stressful situation, and without realizing it had pushed me into habitually using various behaviors as means of escape. Other than when I was working or actively engaged with key people in my life, it had recently gotten to the point where most of my free time was spent escaping reality in some form or another.

This month, one of my closest friends suggested that we "fast". She is fasting social media. I am fasting Netflix, which had become my favorite way of relaxing and escaping reality. I feel so awake, so free. Not always comfortable, though. When a difficult day's events bring up that familiar ache in my chest, I long to boot up a great movie and escape. Accountability is a powerful tool, as knowing that I'd let down my friend by caving in is usually what stops me from giving in. I also really don't want to lose the fresh awareness, and the feeling of participating in real life that I've recovered.

I'm quite sure that my escapist patterns have progressively been shutting down my creativity and other gifts, and now that I've woken up I refuse to let that happen again.

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In addition, I am doing my best to only use food as nourishment, not as a form of distraction or numbing out. If I suddenly crave a glass of wine, I ask myself why. I am reading lots of books again. Ward : Recent studies find our first impulses are selfless… …More. In this passionate call to action, year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg explains why… …More. What The Fall Equinox Means. Bulerias Improvisadas Bandaluzia Feat. Old film of Paris, France taken by Burton Holmes in maybe earlier. Set to a natural rate and added in sound for ambiance. The Queen Going Underground.

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