Chances are, if you are reading this article, you already understand the danger of escapism. You know how crappy it feels to be around a fair weather friend. You are irritated by bypassing. Chances are you already know that running away from things that cause you discomfort is not the way to create a feel good life. But there is danger at the other side of the pendulum as well. You run the risk of becoming attached to pain and thus being unwilling to resolve it. The name for this danger is “Endurism”.
Endurism is every bit as unhealthy as escapism is. Endurism is a coping strategy. Endurism is a coping strategy that we use to deal with the perception that we are helpless to get our needs met. But Endurism is a coping strategy that means we will spend our life merely coping with pain instead of creating a life that feels good.
Society is full to the brim with sayings like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?” Or “No pain, no gain?” Or “It is what it is?” These sayings have one thing in common… They help you to feel relief about a situation in which you feel helpless to get out of pain. Feeling relief is a good thing. But the harm in these sayings is that they can become justifications for avoidance. They can enable you to avoid actively making changes so as to move beyond a painful situation. In other words, they can keep you stuck in pain.
We live in a world that tends to glorify struggle, pain and suffering. For example, all the medals and trophies are awarded to the people who struggle and self sacrifice or who take pain upon themselves in various ways. Essentially, we live in a world that believes there is virtue in suffering. Many religious communities teach this both directly and indirectly. Religions are primarily concerned with morality. They seek to instill a sense of right and wrong. And so, people often learn to stay in situations and perpetuate situations that are causing them pain so they can be good and do what’s right. This is a form of martyrdom.
To expand further, many spiritual people forget that in the physical dimension, action is in fact an essential part of the change process. If we fall into this kind of physical passivism, we end up telling ourselves that we just have to learn how to allow whatever is happening to happen and trust that the universe will eventually take it away and take that action step for us. This is a form of denial. In reality, a critical part of the path of improvement involves literally taking actions towards improvement.
At face value, it is tempting to think that endurism is the opposite of escapism. However, when we are engaged in endurism, we are in fact escaping something. That “something” is the fear of making a change and the responsibility that inevitably comes with actually making that change. Our subconscious fear is that by making the change that we need to make in order to feel better, we will become a bad person. And if we become a bad person, we will lose connection with the people and things that we want to and need to be connected to.
When we were young, for the most part, we were powerless to our parents and caregivers. If we were in pain or if we had a need or a desire, we were completely dependent on the people in charge of us to remedy the pain or meet the need. This means, that often our needs were inconsistently met, if met at all. All too often, parents give their child the message “sorry kid, there is nothing I can do about it, you’re just gonna have to put up with it.” We were not enabled or supported to find ways to actually improve the situation or meet our needs or reach our desires or find alternatives to doing what we didn’t want to do. So what is the result? We learn that we just have to put up with feeling bad.
No parent means to disable their child in this way. It’s just one of those things that unintentionally happens. All too often, parents feel trapped in their own life and so they teach their kids that they are trapped too. This is the perfect foundation for endurism. This is why so many adults walk around saying “I hate my job, but I have to go to work anyway” or “I hate my marriage but I’m just gonna have to put up with it until the kids go to college.”
We need to change the conversations we are having in our families from “We can’t” to “There’s always a way so, how can we”? All that happens when we give each other the message that we have to endure something and can’t make any change to remedy the situation is that we cause the people in our lives to develop an attachment to enduring.
In the self help field, there is an age old analogy that is used over and over again. It’s the analogy of elephants who are tied to a tree trunk when they are babies so they cannot move. When they grow to a size where they could easily move the tree trunk, they do not even realize it. So they remain unnecessarily imprisoned by the tree trunks they are tied to. This is an example of a learned limitation that turns into a self-imposed limitation.
It is necessary to see how you are practicing endurism in your life. But beware that when you have to admit to the “endurism” you are engaged in, you are most likely going to become very defensive. You are going to be able to find all kinds of reasons why it is good or right to perpetuate your painful situation. You are after all a reasonable person. But reasonability is the arch nemesis of progress. You are not wrong. In fact, you have plenty of incredibly valid reasons to justify your endurism. No one, least of all me, is trying to convince you that your reasons are not valid. I just want you to consider that your valid reasons aren’t good enough to justify living a miserable life.
So watch this video to find out how to put an end to the edurism in your life.
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