Why Not Just Run Away?
Posted by: Stephen Rigby at 10:43, June 28 2017.

Last summer I went on a visit to Longleat Safari Park.  It was a great day out.  One of the displays of animals was a colony of tamarins and marmosets.  Their home was in the middle of a wooded area and made to look like a South American Aztec temple.  There were tree branches and thick ropes for them to climb and run around.  What was striking was that there were no bars or cage enclosing them and the ropes hung over and around the pathway.  There was, not surprisingly, a member of staff on duty there all the time.  The obvious question we asked of them was “why don’t they just run away?”

Ever Felt Like Running Away?

Do you ever feel like just turning your back on everything and running away?  Sometimes that does seem like the best solution and sometimes people do just that.  In 1976 the first series of a very popular situation comedy, the Rise and Fall of Reginald Perrin staring the late Leonard Rossiter was shown on TV.  The series, based on a novel written by David Nobbs, followed the life of Reginald Perrin (Rossiter), who, fed up with everything about his life, faked his own death by leaving his clothes on the beach and disappeared.  When I was a child a friend of the family pre-empted the series by leaving his clothes on the beach and disappearing.  Everyone feared he was dead – his wife (with a small baby), his friends, family and everyone at the church where he was a member.  Then out of the blue there was a call to his church minister from France.  The friend told the minister that he could not remember anything about the previous two weeks (his period of disappearance) or how he got to France but needed help to get home.  Everyone was happy that he had returned and nobody ever questioned him about this “odd” occurrence.  His wife maybe had a few words to say in private but what issues there may have been were obviously resolved and everything returned to normal.  He, like Reginald Perrin, felt the need to return home.

Are We The Same As A Tamarin Or Marmoset?

Why do more people not just up and leave and why having made the decision to leave do people return?  The tamarins and marmosets stay put because they are fiercely territorial.  They have their home and they stay were things are familiar, where they have friends and family.  They stay with what they have spent time and effort creating and they find any change deeply upsetting.  Unlike the tamarins and marmosets, our “familiar” can sometimes be regarded as both a sanctuary and a prison.

I had one gentleman come to see me for hypnotherapy to address his feelings of entrapment that he experienced having started a family.  All of a sudden there were others to think about and he was no longer “free” to live the “single life” he had come to enjoy.  For him, his home had become his prison.

How Do We Deal With The Desire To Run Away?

So what do we do when we are confronted by that desire to run away and “leave our clothing on the beach”?  The first thing to remember is that our lives are not static, they are constantly changing.  There will be times when we do not like the life we are living – we might feel constrained or frustrated by our responsibilities (family, work etc.) or our situation (income, location, education, gender etc.).  If there is someone we can talk to about it that sometimes helps.  Sometimes just holding tight and believing things will change is all that is required.  Sometimes one has to work from within the situation to see if one can give oneself some manoeuvrability, to relieve the pressure sufficiently to restore balance again.  Sometimes one has to bite the bullet and take action – have that conversation, look for a new job, move home or whatever is required to resolve the situation.  If you truly are at the point where you are willing to walk away with nothing, you have nothing to lose from confronting the problem head on.

The Grass Is Always Greener

It may seem that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence but, in reality, if we run from a problem, it invariably follows us.  The realisation of this is, possibly, why people who have run away often return.