Escapism can manifest itself in a variety of ways; escaping to fantasy realities through media or the imagination, by intentionally deluding ourselves into believing the world or a person is a certain way when they perhaps unfortunately aren’t, and by taking drugs or mind altering substances not to grow, but to escape the present.
Think of the Romans “bread and circuses” as a means of convincing the populace to escape the reality of their terrible living conditions and treatment through appeasing them with food and entertainment.
If we’re constantly escaping the present we can never fully immerse ourselves in it and aren’t really living so much as surviving.
To stop escaping we need to be mindful. When we turn on a video game we need to realize whether we actually desire the experience or whether what we really want is to not feel something painful or uncomfortable for a while.
Lets say you’ve just got home from work. Your loving pet runs to greet you, but you’re in such a foul mood from a bad day you can’t return their affection.
This is a small example of what emotional baggage can do to us.
Every experience, every moment we are weighed down by the heft of our emotional baggage.
Carrying all this baggage around prevents our consciousness from soaring in the present moment and being fully immersed in our present activities.
To fully adopt the mindset of the present moment we need to free ourselves of these bonds by actively identifying them, understanding their cause and their impacts on our lives, and then releasing them by embracing the growth they’ve fostered in our fighting them and freeing the judgement we have of their cause which stems from our insecurities.
Becoming an Archetype
Lets talk about Wim Hof, the Iceman. He is a holder of 20 Guinness World Records for withstanding extreme temperatures.
This guy climbed Mt Everest in his shorts and shoes.
He ran a full marathon in the desert without food or water.
He and his students have shown in a scientific study that they can consciously control their immune systems.
The Wim Hof method is essentially just a breathing exercise (read about it here) and a mindset.
The breathing prepares your body for the harsh stimulus (like the cold or heat) its the mindset one learns with their breath as a channel that gives them the ability to overcome their apparent natural limitations.
This begs the question, what else can we accomplish were we not limited by our beliefs about it.
Waiting in line we ignore our surroundings to focus on a cyclical whirl of our problems, repressed emotions and tentative future plans.
There are other humans around us we can connect to.
There are details and mysteries surrounding us that we cut ourselves off from.
There’s a whole world of experience we often miss because we don’t accept reality fully.
The appropriate fix for this, is what I’ll call the Archetype method.
I believe we all intrinsically know the most effective way to act in a given circumstance.
We all have the capacity to be smooth, sexy, inventive, engaging, humorous or any other trait you care to imagine.
But because we believe we are a certain way we don’t express that aspect of ourselves.
For example someone who firmly believes “I am an accountant” will express that belief through their parenting, their hobbies through all the activities they undertake.
Their mindset is “fixed”.
But the mindset appropriate for sorting through some dense expense reports is not the same mindset one needs to nurture a growing child or cook a delicious meal or push oneself through a challenging workout.
The shortcut to fixing that is by embodying the archetype of the situation you find yourself in.
If you’re taking a Muay Thai class imagine yourself to be a graceful, powerful warrior who’s training for their biggest fight to date.
The archetype approach will bring these to your conscious awareness. It’ll show you all the things you’ve always been capable of, like Socrates and Meno’s slave.
So if someone does commit that crime, its only because they’ve been repressing their desire to commit that crime up to that point.
We all have aspects of ourselves that we’d rather no bring to the surface (read more about that in Iron John).
But rather than trying to escape them it’s far healthier to accept ourselves as we truly are without the static idea of our capabilities and instead to express that latent aspects in constructive ways.
Say if you have latent violent urges you could take them out through martial arts training.
She explains in the video that there are two mindsets people can approach life with. A growth mindset or a fixed mindset.
As this summary explains those who have a growth mindset believe that intelligence can be improved, that our abilities aren’t static, and that effort is always worthwhile even if the results aren’t immediately tangible.
Fixed mindset holders believe the opposite and thus adopt attitudes of apathy as they believe that their efforts won’t be fruitful and that others success will always overshadow them.
These people often escape from their realities which they think can’t ever improve.
Further since they can’t change, nothing else must be able to either. So all the people who’ve hurt them must still be the same because they are. So they can never forgive or move on.
The archetype method is a way of conceptualizing how the growth mindset is practiced in daily life, by channeling our growth through our conceptual model of our heroes.
The point behind all this is that our mindsets towards our experiences shape our perceptions present and future towards them.
That’s why happiness is thought to be found in the present, not the past or future because through our actions now we create a past to be happy about and future to be excited for.
Change in Either Direction Happens in the Present
Most of the circumstances that shape our lives are beyond our control. We can’t make the sun stop burning, or the water stop lapping at the sand.
But we can consciously control our growth.
We decide how to approach our lives and we decide whether that approach will be positive or negative in the past, future and present.
Through our effort we determine our circumstances within a controlled range.
But since that range extends from the depths of despair to the peaks of joy and fulfillment it’s likely our efforts won’t be fruitless.
Thus it pays for each of us to adopt strategies such as the archetype method to control our perception of the present and create an incredible future and enjoyable present.
Start today by being mindful of when you’re escaping the present in any manner, or carrying emotional burdens around that are weighing you down.
Break free of those restraints, fully embrace your present and I guarantee you, that you will never regret it.
The ideal mindset is to exist in the present performing actions which are building your future and creating a memorable past.
An effective mindset is to experience things without external biases.
Biases like escapism and emotional baggage.
To some extent we all have them, but they can be rooted out by identifying them through mindfulness and releasing our judgement of them.
Wim Hof demonstrated the power of mindsets by teaching 12 individuals to direct their immune systems to shut down an infection which would usually have made them sick for days.
Use the archetype method to embody someone who represents your ideal growth trajectory in the activity of your choice i.e Bruce Lee and martial arts
Carol Dweck defined two types of mindsets; Growth and Fixed.
A growth mindset believe that intelligence can be improved, that are abilities aren’t static, and that effort is always worthwhile even if the results aren’t immediately tangible.
A fixed mindset believes the opposite and thus rarely tries to improve.
Start adopting a better mindset today by being mindful of when you’re escaping the present in any manner, or carrying emotional burdens around that are weighing you down and by practising the archetype method.