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Published on July 17, 2020

How to Stop Running Away from Difficult Problems in Life

How to Stop Running Away from Difficult Problems in Life

The world can certainly be a challenging place. Things are moving at a faster pace than ever before and problems seemingly arise from anywhere.

We fight a ton of battles every day, and it can be really easy to get overwhelmed. Those feelings can cause a person to run away from the problems they are facing.

Unfortunately, if you continually try to do this, you’ll waste your entire life running away from your problems. Eventually, they will catch up to you though.

So, how can we effectively confront our problems and move towards a life where we’re no longer scared of them? Here are ways on how to stop running away from your problems.

1. Embrace the Challenge

It might seem counter-intuitive, but embracing feelings like discomfort and suffering could be an important step to learning how to stop running away from problems.

The purpose of this is that most of the good things in life will inevitably cause us some suffering. We have to earn these things, and we need to push through the pain and suffering to achieve them.

Experiencing deep love and connection in relationships forces us to confront the problems and stresses that come before developing that connection.

Getting physically fit requires us to stick to a diet and exercise regularly.

Gaining a promotion forces us to work harder than the people we’re competing with to demonstrate that we are the right person for the position.

Most things gained come at the cost of some type of suffering. It’s going to take work. If we’re going to face the problems that confront us on our path to success, then we’re going to have to get comfortable with the discomfort and challenges that they cause us.

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Almost any type of change will be associated with some type of challenge that we are going to have to overcome.

2. Use Social Support

This is an underutilized resource – our social network.

Do you feel alone right now? Do you feel like nobody cares and that there’s nobody around who would be willing to help you?

If you do, you should look around a bit. I guarantee that there is somebody who would be more than happy to help you through this challenge.

Remember, we face a lot of problems every day. There is no reason that you should feel that you need to solve all of them on your own. That can lead you to feel overwhelmed, which can lead you to start running away from your problems.

So, seek out support from family, friends, community resources, such as therapy, support groups, or even anonymous support groups online. Do whatever feels right to you so that you can get the support you need to confront this problem.

3. Make a Plan

If you’re asking yourself how to stop running away from problems, one thing to think about is whether or not you have a plan. Have you thought about how you’ll tackle the issue?

Often, we run from our problems because we don’t know how to solve them. However, just because we don’t know how to confront the issue right now and it seems overwhelming, doesn’t mean that we can’t spend some time to process it and come up with a solution.

Taking some time to learn about the problem and how others have overcome it in the past is a great way to start. Wherever you go for information, make sure that your sources are accurate.

Based on these sessions you can begin creating goals and piecing together your plan. You can create a series of steps you can take to develop a course of action that will help you to overcome the problem and eventually reach the success you’re looking for.

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Don’t underestimate the role that goal setting can play here. It can keep you motivated and give you something to work towards at every stage of your journey.

If you would like to learn more about setting effective goals, check out this article.[1]

4. Audit Your Friend Circle and Those Closest to You

Believe it or not, your social circle is a big factor. Thus, it’s important to consider this when you’re trying to learn how to stop running away from problems.

There are a lot of negative and toxic people out there. They may undermine the efforts of others to become successful, potentially because they want to keep everyone at their level. Their intent is really hard to say, but they’re out there.

This is why it’s so important to audit your social circle regularly, especially the people that you spend the most time with. When you’re trying to overcome some type of problem, it’s important to make sure that you surround yourself with the people who are going to support you and help you through that problem.

When you do this, it’s unfortunate but you may notice that a lot of your close friends don’t always have your best interests in mind. They may prioritize their desires continually over yours.

Maybe instead of encouraging you to study, they encourage you to party with them the week before an exam.

Maybe instead of sticking to your diet and exercise routine when you’re trying to lose weight, they’re more worried about getting you to join them for a Friday night of video games and pizza.

We have to recognize that self-improvement and overcoming challenges is always going to be difficult. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. If it were easy, you wouldn’t be reading this article.

The reality is that not everyone will support you through this journey and when you begin to let go or distance yourself from these relationships, the people you’re letting go of may feel as though you’re unfairly kicking them out of your life. They may get upset at you for this. But remember, you’re doing what’s best for your personal growth.

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And this isn’t about throwing away friends or other people in your life just because their actions and goals no longer align with yours. It’s about distancing yourself from the people that may undermine your progress towards this goal. You’re reducing their ability to influence your progress along this path.

This is why we often end up outgrowing old relationships.

5. Prepare Yourself to Confront the Problem

Whenever you make a meaningful life change, it’s important to recognize that if you want to overcome the problem, you need to prepare appropriately. They need to commit to overcoming the challenge.

You need to be the one who decides to make this change as well. This is why trying to convince a family member to make a change, such as quitting smoking, rarely works. Because significant life changes like this, to occur effectively, need to be desired by the individual making the change. If they don’t truly want to quit smoking, chances are they won’t.

If you aren’t willing to commit yourself to confront the problem and eventually overcome it, chances are you won’t. You need to want to make this change in your life more than you want to continue running from the problem.

When you make that decision, recognize that you have the strength and resilience to overcome the problem.

6. Running Away Isn’t a Long-Term Solution

This is probably the most important part of learning how to stop running away from problems.

It’s recognizing that running away isn’t a long-term solution. And no matter how fast or how far you run, eventually, they will catch up to you and you will be forced to face them, whether you like it or not.

Running from your problems is often something that we do to try to escape them, it’s a protection mechanism. But running doesn’t truly protect us from anything.

Avoidance doesn’t solve any of our problems. It never has in the past, nor will it ever do so in the future. Our problems won’t just disappear on their own.

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Running from our problems only provides temporary relief from the pressure that our problems provide. It doesn’t solve anything. It just allows you to back away from the issue, forcing you to confront it at a later date.

This is why it’s better to just learn how to develop the skills you need to confront your problems. You will feel a lot better about your life and your confidence will begin to sore when you begin doing this.

Until you gather the courage to face whatever it is you’re running from, your issues won’t just disappear. You’ll continually find yourself struggling through similar situations over and over again in a loop. Breaking free of this cycle requires conscious effort from you.

And it’s OK if you fail a few times throughout this process. You probably will. But with each attempt to address the problem, you will learn and grow stronger. Eventually, you’ll be bigger than your problems.

When you reach that point, you become truly free. You’re no longer forced to run and hide from your problems because you know you have the skills and abilities to overcome them.

If you would like to learn more about escapism and the negative impacts of running from your goals check this out.[2]

Final Thoughts

So we’ve talked about a lot of different things today. I hope you got some real value from this topic.

If I was to leave you with one takeaway, it would be this:

Running away from your problems is never going to help you grow into the person that you want to become. So, learn what you need to do to become the type of person who confronts their problems so that they can eventually achieve their goals!

More Tips For Overcoming Problems in Life

Featured photo credit: Kevin Quezada via unsplash.com

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Mark Lynch

Featured Life-Balance, & Personal Development Author

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Last Updated on October 28, 2020

What Am I Doing With My Life? Find Your Answer Here

What Am I Doing With My Life? Find Your Answer Here

“What am I doing with my life?” As a life coach and business consultant, I hear this question – or some version of it – all the time. Those asking the question are likely facing one of a couple scenarios.

One, you wake up one morning and find yourself in a job you hate, a relationship you don’t want to be in, or a life that has little resemblance to the one you had imagined. You might be feeling low, filled with frustration, shame, or regret. This is not where you wanted to be at this time in your life…it’s not the life you wanted to live.

Or maybe you don’t feel unhappy or lost, but you wake up and realize you want something more, new, or different. You may have accomplished many of the things you’d imagined for your life, and now you’re trying to figure out what to do next.

My job as a coach and consultant is to support my clients to be happier, more successful and fulfilled. To help them get from where they are to where they want to be, uncovering obstacles along the way. This usually involves working through a process and asking powerful questions so they can discover the answers to their biggest questions – including this one.

What’s Wrong With Your Life?

One of the very first things I share with my clients is this: you don’t have to figure out what you want to do with the entire rest of your life!

You don’t have to work out what you want to be when you “grow up” or discover your entire life’s purpose. You don’t have to commit to a career for the next 20 years. I see so many people paralyzed by thinking they must work everything out for the entire rest of their lives. Of course, they feel stressed and overwhelmed!

Instead, focus on identifying what’s next. At this age, in this stage, facing your current circumstances and ideas of personal development. I’m not saying this won’t be attached to a bigger vision, but that doesn’t mean you have to have the whole plan right now. I love MLK’s quote:

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, you just have to take the first step.”

The same is true for figuring out what you’re doing with your life.

How to Answer the Question – What Am I Doing with My Life?

Back to the question. Let’s look at a couple of my recent clients.

Sabine* was a smart, successful, vibrant woman. She already had several successful jobs during her career, traveled the world, had a family, and was settling back in a new city. While she originally called wanting to take her business to the next level, we soon realized that wasn’t what she really needed or wanted.

She was trying to figure out what she was doing with her life. For her, this meant realizing she had lost her sense of self. While no one would know from the outside, she was feeling overwhelmed, lost, and unsure of herself. She was doing all the “right” things for everyone around her, but she wasn’t doing all the right things for her.

Together, we were able to help Sabine:

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  • Get a clear picture of what she wanted for this next stage in her life.
  • Align her life and actions with her value and priorities.
  • Remember who she was and feel more like herself than she had in years.
  • Regain confidence and take action on things she had been avoiding.
  • Gain motivation, self-trust, and security in her decisions.

Then, there’s Max*. Incredibly smart, fun and motivated, Max had successfully climbed up through his career ladder and was happily married with his first child. Life was good.

He came to me because he was in the second scenario; Max was trying to figure out what he wanted to do next. Even though he had a great job, he was looking for more – something new, different, challenging and interesting.

In our time together, Max was able to:

  • Identify his priorities and what was important in this next stage of life (and what wasn’t).
  • Pinpoint several new career options.
  • Uncover and work through old, limiting beliefs and thought patterns.
  • Start exploring potential new careers.

Here’s the process and the questions I walked through with Sabine and Max. Following these will help you make progress towards identifying what you’re doing with your life too:

Step 1: What Do You Want?

Whenever you’re asking “What am I doing with my life?”, it’s important to take a step back, look at the big picture, and identify what you want. Frankly, if you don’t know what you want, how do you expect to get it?

This seems simple, yet it’s often quite hard to address. When I ask this question, people often tell me what they don’t want or what’s not working. They’ve gotten into the habit of making decisions based on what’s best for their career, friends and family, or others and forget to think about what they want for themselves[1].

Sabine originally thought she wanted to “take her business to the next level,” but when she dug deeper, she realized there was so much more. She ultimately found that she wanted to feel like herself again; to feel secure, trust and assert herself, and regain her sense of self.

Max wanted to love what he was doing. He wanted to be in a career (or role) that he was energized and “jazzed” about.

Your Turn:

What do you want? Get specific.

Is it a new career in which you feel excited and energized? A relationship where you feel honored and loved? To be confident and happy with yourself? To live in a particular place or to explore the world?

Maybe, like Sabine, when you think you have your answer, ask yourself, “what else?” and see what comes up.

Once you are clear on what you want, you can move to the next question.

Step 2: Who Are You?

Self-awareness and a little soul searching is critical for success – especially when you’re trying to figure out what you’re doing with your life.

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Understanding yourself at a deeper level and making decisions based upon those insights will ensure that whatever you choose to do next is something that will make you happier, more successful, and more fulfilled. It will make sure that your next step is a step in the right direction, not just another step.

While I take my clients through a series of many questions, here are a few of my favorites:

  • What is most important to you right now?
  • What are your core values? What are the beliefs, guiding principles, or ideas that are deeply important to you? Which ones are you off track with?
  • What are your passions? What gets you engaged, motivated, excited?
  • What are your skills and talents? Which would you like to use going forward?
  • What is your wish list? What do you want and need in your life/career/relationship? This might include the type of environment you thrive in, people you want to be surrounded by, or something you want in a role.
  • What is the impact or difference you want to make? How do you want to serve, contribute or add value?
  • What do you NOT want? While you don’t want to spend too much time in this space, it’s as important to be aware of what you don’t want as much as what you do!

In her soul searching, Sabine identified that she needed to find and surround herself with her “people,” uncovered what she needed to feel safe and secure, learned she needed to delegate more, and discovered that her direct approach was getting in her way.

Max realized what was most important to him at this stage of his life, identified the limiting beliefs that were getting in his way, learned to stop comparing himself to others, and realized how important it was to infuse humor and joy into his everyday life.

Your Turn:

Grab a journal. Ask yourself these questions and allow the time and space to discover the answers.

Write everything down. Then, review what you wrote and highlight or circle what stands out or resonates the most. These are what you want to pay attention to as you move forward and think about what you’re doing next with your life.

Then, with a little soul-searching under your belt, it’s time to move on to step 3.

Step 3: What Are Your Options?

If you’re asking “What am I doing with my life?” you’re clearly not happy where you are. You know you want something else. But what is that “something”? This question allows you to explore your potential options.

At this point, it’s not about deciding the one thing or making the right choice; it’s about allowing your creative mind to expand and see all the possibilities.

If you hate your career, what new potential careers are on your mind? If you’re unhappy in your relationship, what can you do? If you’re feeling like you need change or an adventure, what could those possibly be?

Brainstorm ALL your options without worrying about whether they are possible or not (just yet). Make a list and keep asking yourself….what else? This allows you to dig deeper and see opportunities you might have otherwise not explored.

Your Turn

What are all of your possible options at this point in time? Don’t limit them if you can’t see how it’s possible, just get all your ideas out on paper.

Once you have your list of options, then you can move to the next step.

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Step 4: Which Options Are the Best Fit Right Now?

Okay, so you have your list of options and possibilities. Now it’s time to narrow it down and explore those options in a little more depth.

Once Max had a complete list of potential career options (including advancing in his current role), he narrowed the list down to the top most interesting and compelling opportunities. We then worked through each of those in greater depth.

A fantastic way to do this is to envision your life “as if” you were in that new role/situation/relationship.

Max imagined himself living the life in his new career options. First, he imagined himself as an REI employee. Yes, he had grown a beard and was drinking from a metal mug.

But the next question was even more important. I asked him how he felt. He said while he was excited to be outdoors more, he realized he wouldn’t be fulfilled in that role. He definitely didn’t feel “jazzed.”

We went through all his options, envisioning what life would be like in each role until he found the one in which he felt the most connected. We could both feel a shift in his energy immediately…he was on to something.

Your Turn

Go back to your options list and circle the 1-3 that you feel most connected to, energized by, or engaged with. You’ll want to make sure those options fit what you want (question 1) and who you are (question 2).

Once you have a short list, imagine your life as if you took that as your next step. What would you think, feel, hear, and see? Does it feel good? You can also do some research at this point to learn more about each of your options.

Then, armed with information and an idea of the next best option for you, it’s time to move on to the next question.

Step 5: What’s Stopping You?

This is a big one. As you explore your options, it’s likely you may come up against some barriers.

Perhaps you have fears or limiting beliefs of what you can or can’t do or what someone said you were capable of. Maybe it’s lack of self-esteem or confidence.

When these come up, it doesn’t mean the option is wrong; it just means you need to dig a bit further to find out what’s going on. It’s important to explore what’s getting in your way.

With Max, he was being held back by a deep, long-time belief that he wasn’t good enough – that he wasn’t capable of taking on a higher level, higher risk role. We worked together until he could move past this perception and on to his next step.

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Your Turn

Think about what’s getting in your way or stopping you from moving forward. Once again, don’t stop at your first answer. Ask yourself “what else?” until you identify what’s getting in your way.

Then, it’s time to move to the last question.

Step 6: What Can You Do to Move Forward?

You’ve narrowed down and explored your options, and now it’s time to take action to get past asking yourself “What am I doing with my life?” I know this part is hard.

What if it isn’t right? What if there is something else out there? What if it’s the worst decision I ever make?

These are all real and good questions, but not if they stop you from moving forward towards a more fulfilling life[2]. If you’re feeling hesitant about taking the next step, let me give you a different way to look at it.

If you’re unhappy where you are now, what is the bigger risk: staying where you are out of fear of doing the wrong thing OR moving forward and seeing where it leads you? It’s better to rock the boat than to die sinking in it, right?

Once you’ve decided, it’s time to act. What’s your first step? Take it.

Give yourself a deadline, a timeline, or a goal to make it happen so you can move from ideas to reality.

Your Turn

Make a decision about which option is best for you to move forward into the life you want. Then, take the first step towards that option. Then, the next and the next one after that.

Take a look at these 10 Strategies to Keep Moving Forward When Feeling Stuck.

Final Thoughts

So, what are YOU doing with your life?

Just the sheer fact that you’re asking yourself what you’re doing with your life is a step in the right direction. A mentor of mine always said that 90% of solving a problem is awareness that it exists. You know you need to do something.

Now, if you’re serious about moving forward, it’s time to take the time and put in the effort and answer the questions above. Then, like Sabine and Max, be willing to take action, even if you’re not exactly sure how it’s going to play out.

It’s your life, and, yes, it can be everything you’ve imagined.

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Featured photo credit: Abigail Keenan via unsplash.com

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