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10 Signs You’re an Escapist (Both Good and Bad)

10 Signs You’re an Escapist (Both Good and Bad)

If you have a tendency to avoid reality by fantasizing about your dream scenario, then chances are you are an escapist. But it is not all bad being an escapist; like everything else in life, it does have its good and bad traits.

But believe it or not, there’s an escapist in all of us. But some of us tend to take escapism to the next level and this can be quite bad. In this article, I will identify 5 good and 5 bad signs of being an escapist. So if you want to know whether you are an escapist, check these 10 signs below.

The Good Signs

1. You daydream (a lot).

If you have a tendency to daydream (a lot), then you could be an escapist. Escapists are people who want to create their own reality whilst they go about their daily routine. And these day dreams don’t tend to happen purposefully; they actually happen quite naturally when you don’t expect it. And when they do occur, you welcome them. A lot these dream tend to revolve around your deepest desires, like being a rock star, celebrity or being able to stand up for yourself.

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2. You are very creative.

If you are capable of making your own alternate reality in your mind, then you must be one imaginative and creative person. And because you developed this habit of imagining, you regularly exercise your creative muscles so you come up with new ideas all the time. If you think about it, some of the most creative works of literature or art (like Stars Wars, Batman—you name it) are all set in a dystopian universe.

3. You want to live life on your own terms.

If you are an escapist, chances are you are working in a job that you don’t really like. And you probably have this burning desire to quit your job. But being an escapist is not just about wishing to quit your job; there could be many things in your life that you wish weren’t there. They could be finance or family-related, and things which you don’t have control over. Escapists like yourself are longing to free from their shackles and live life on their own terms.

4. You love to travel the world.

You’re quick to be bitten by the travel bug. And by travelling, it is not your usual going to a beach and partying type of vacation (although you won’t mind doing that now and then). Your idea of travelling is to explore and to embrace the vibrant cultures that the world would has to offer. And since you are an escapist, you’ll be easily drawn to pictures being posted on Facebook where your friends are showing off their latest travelling adventures and you can’t help but to feel slightly envious.

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5. You enjoy reading fiction like fantasy and sci-fi.

As mentioned in one of the previous signs, escapist are incredibly creative and they’re responsible for creating the greatest works of fiction, especially in the fantasy and sci-fi genre. And as a fellow escapist, you admire their work because it allows you be a part of their imaginary universe. It gives you a chance to escape.

The Bad Signs

6. Your desire to quit your job may lead you to under-perform in your job.

This is a classic sign for anyone who is an escapist. Chances are, if you are an escapist, then you may hate your job. There’s a part of you who wants to go on to achieve greater things, perhaps a better career, or you want to do something that you love. So you continue to daydream and lose focus of what you should be doing. And because of this, you are at risk of under-performing in your job.

7. You may be addicted to video games.

Video games have evolved so much recently that you actually feel as if you are a part of their pixelated world. Like many escapists, you are probably addicted to playing video games, and that is because these games allow you to escape into an imaginary reality. Games like the SIMs are becoming more popular because it allows you to create your own alternative version of yourself where you are living your dream world. And because you are so submersed in your universe that you have created, you don’t want to let it go.

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8. You realise the world is a harsh place.

This is very common characteristic of all escapists, and it should be seen as a sign. As an escapist, you will have probably imagined this amazing future where you will be living the life of your dream. But when you go and pursue this dream, the shock of what the world is really like disappoints you. You will quickly realise this so go back to just imagining your dream world, where you feel happy.

9. You tend to procrastinate.

Although you may have all these aspirations to live your dream life, the truth is something is holding you back and it is preventing you from pursuing passion. The one thing that is holding you back is your fear of failure. In fact, you’re petrified of failure. You keeping asking all these “what ifs” and they all revolve around failure (e.g. “what if people all mock me because I want to be a writer?!”). And because of this, you end up staying where you are and you start procrastinating.

10. You can’t face uncertainty.

Similar to the last point, another sign which coincides with procrastination is your inability to face uncertainty. Your alternate dream world is where you go to escape the actual reality that you find difficult to accept. When you face uncertain situations, you tend to start procrastinating and start to fantasize. And that’s because you find certainty and security in your dream.

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Conclusion

There good and bad signs when it comes to being an escapist. The good signs tend to lead to creativity and exploration, but the bad signs lead to procrastination and not being able to accept reality. If you do have difficulty in accepting reality and pursuing your passion, you could benefit from seeking professional help. But hopefully, this article has made you familiar with signs that are usually associated with being an escapist.

Featured photo credit: Petra via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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