I’m addicted to traveling. I know that sounds like a wonderful thing to be addicted to, but lately it’s been severely impacting my life. When anything uncomfortable happens — a break-up, job stress, parent falling ill — my solution is to hop on a plane. I know it’s a privilege to have the money and time to do that sort of thing, yet I’ve realized that I no longer travel to explore new places or culture. I travel to make my life so busy and to have it seem more fabulous than it actually is. I have even bought tickets that I don’t even end up using. How can I break this habit?
You can run but you can’t hide.
It’s not possible to fly away from your problems, you can only distract from them temporarily. And the longer you try to distract, the more pernicious your issues become. They turn into baggage — heavy pieces of luggage with split zippers and crooked wheels that weigh you down, becoming harder to repair later.
Travel is your drug of choice and I can see why it’s enticing. Full of possibility, travel can bring out different sides of us. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself in other cultures and be reminded of our shared humanity.
No longer tied to the same obligations and agenda, I often find myself more laid back on a trip, giving myself permission to explore, be creative and see things with fresh eyes. (Come to think of it, the next time you have a ticket you can’t use, send it my way.)
But in all seriousness, you are not engaging with travel in this manner; you are using it as a mighty expensive way to numb your feelings. And you know this.
Your strategy is set for a crash landing; although travel once worked to temporarily avoid confronting your problems, it’s now running out of fuel.
You don’t have to eliminate travel from your life completely. You state you have the privilege of time, so start by dedicating time on your trips to facing what’s bothering you.
The opposite of distracting is focusing and being intentional. Set the intention to spend time every day journaling. Reflect on your feelings and how stress is being stored in your body — not for the purpose of fixing or judging but to simply get familiar with a fundamental human process: learning from your emotions. Because within each one is an underlying need that you can now find direct ways to cope with or treat.
You want your life to appear fabulous to others, so you’ve become a globetrotter and created a facade. This will only leave you feeling hollow and be exhausting to maintain. The number of ‘likes’ you get on social media is not an indication of your worth or identity.
To find out how truly fabulous you really are, start a new journey — explore the nuances of your one-of-a-kind self and live authentically. Start by devoting a weekend to a staycation during which you slow down and patiently focus on your relationship with yourself — your essence, your support network and your values.
During this time, avoid social media. Avoid anything that leads you to compare or compete with others or anything that takes you away from being present. Self-compassion with your experience will be paramount.
As one of my favorite teachers states, “Nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” From the beaches of Fiji to the streets of Katmandu, wherever you go, there you are. So start befriending yourself and see the fresh perspective you can discover.
Dr. Rachel Allyn is a licensed psychologist in private practice. Learn more about her unique style of therapy at DrRachelAllyn.com. Send questions to [email protected].