You may have heard the phrase “catching flights not feelings.” It means that catching a plane and going to a new exciting destination is better than developing and strengthening the feelings you have for someone. Sometimes the person saying it is saying that they prefer to run away than to confront what they are feeling and why they are afraid of commitment.
So why is the idea of catching flights so appealing?
Not meaning to use one proverb to pull out another, but it reminds me of “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Other places, other cultures, other lives always seem more mysterious and more exciting to us.
But as I learned when I was helping in a drug and alcohol rehab center many years ago, “doing the geographical” is never a real solution to any of the issues you are confronting in your life. “Catching flights” is just another sexy way of saying that going somewhere else is going to help. It never does, because “we” catch the plane with ourselves. There is no running away from our inner reality.
That’s not to say that travel doesn’t broaden people’s horizons and allow them to get over bigotry and racism. But chatting to people on the bus that obviously have accents different to your own can achieve the same result.
But what should you do if you don’t want to be overwhelmed by feelings?
One thing a counselor can help you learn is that feelings are not the enemy. Learning to just sit with your feelings and experience them fully is actually the best approach.
Witnessing them, letting them flow and rise and fall is part of life. If you close your eyes and feel your feelings fully, sometimes after a while, you may notice that they are connected to physical part of our body. Be aware of that. By simply being aware, the feelings sometimes resolve themselves.
Or taking up a pen and writing whatever thoughts come into your head, can also help.
Any of the crutches we use to run away from our feelings like catching planes, eating mindlessly, drinking mindlessly, scrolling social media, gambling, watching porn, using drugs, and so on – they are the real problem – not the feelings themselves.
And if you really can’t cope with your feelings, talk to a counselor about it.
Why can catching planes be harmful?
One of the main problems in modern society is loneliness. No matter how many friends we have on social media, if we can’t call a friend and see them face to face, then we may be suffering from loneliness.
Going to foreign lands can actually make this worse. It is hard to have deep meaningful heart to heart conversations with people you have only just met. And it’s even worse if you have to use Google translate every few minutes to even work out what they are saying.
After a while many travelers find the superficial conversations they have with people about “where are you from” and so on, just aren’t fulfilling. Sure you could meet someone while you are traveling, but the likelihood of forming long term relationships is pretty low. And if you do connect with someone, then you have the difficulty of deciding who’s home country you return to as a couple.
Maybe we should travel in groups like ancient nomads
So if you get the travel bug, instead of “catching flights not feelings”, why not ask a few friends to travel with you? Become real nomads. Then you will have people you care about to share the experiences with and it is by doing things together that we deepen the bonds that lead to long-term fulfilling commitments.