In a recent post, I explained how procrastination is a control based avoidance mechanism that carries potentially severe consequences. Withdrawal is another such mechanism that can be even more detrimental to our well-being.
At times we all have had the urge to retreat and “hole up” and just escape the world. This is understandable given the burdens, responsibilities, and pressures we face today.
For much of my adult life, withdrawal was my default mode, usually triggered by strong anger, feeling mistreated, or being overwhelmed.
Truth be told, it didn’t take much for me to emotionally “leave” my loved ones.
It was often easier for me to retreat into my private world of painful thoughts than to confront vital issues head-on. Blame was often the game, as I remained stuck in my self-pity.
Indeed, I can’t think of anything positive that ever resulted from my absences.
Harms of Withdrawal
Withdrawal can become a self-perpetuating process. The longer your departure, the more difficult your return, and by the time you do return, considerable harm may have already occurred—to you and others.
At home, your mates and family may feel rejected and helpless– even abandoned. At work, it is difficult to focus on important tasks and assignments, as well as interact with co-workers and customers.
In the arts, your creativity is easily submerged. And with intimate relations, your sex drive can disappear.
Returning from Exile
Consequently, because of its negative momentum, withdrawal needs to be nipped in the bud. I learned that it is important to learn from your past history what makes you depart, and then make an effort to timely counter it.
For many, unprocessed anger and resentment are the catalysts. For others, it may be financial or health fears, or deteriorating personal relationships. Grief and sadness, particularly from the loss of a loved one or a close relationship, are also prevalent causes of withdrawal.
To return from your personal “exile,” it is paramount that these core feelings and emotions be processed; otherwise they will fester, propelling you deeper into your inner sanctum. You must “face and embrace” them; “lean” in to them, if you will. As you do, the barriers to your return will begin to thaw.
A good way to process your unsettling feelings and emotions is by sharing them with a trusted friend or confidant. Another is to write about them in some way.
During one withdrawal, I wrote the below poem about withdrawal and what I needed to do to overcome it. It is included at the beginning of the chapter titled Avoiding Avoidance in Losing Control, Finding Serenity
“Engulfed with anger,
Ensnarled by fear,
Webbed by doubts
Immersed in pities,
With no default mode.
Joust the fears,
Lose the anger,
Embrace the truth, and
Face the danger.”
Please share your experiences with withdrawal. What typically induces it? How does it impact you? And how do you overcome it?
In the meantime,
Let It Go—and Accept “What Is”!
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