Who Are We Running Away From?


Who Are We Running Away From?
Many people attempt to fill their emptiness through some external means which leads them nowhere.

Every day there is another tragic story in which someone has ended up dying or destroying their life due to drugs, food, sex or just plain despair. One week we discover Amy Winehouse is dead at 27. The week before the Olympic skier, Jeret “Speedy” Peterson had violently ended his life. In another story we read about a 700 pound woman who is on a quest to gain another300 pounds. Two years ago Tiger Woods, clearly one of the greatest golfers, went on a sex binge and has pretty much destroyed everything he valued and still hasn’t recovered.

From my perspective in being a psychotherapist and a relationship doctor for many years, I propose that all of these people and many more like them have more in common than you might think. In order to see this commonality, you have to look beneath the usual easy, superficial answers that we typically attribute to these tragedies such as grew up too fast, couldn’t handle fame, depressed, bad parents, or exposure to drugs. There also needs to be a realization that behaviors such as drugs, obsessive eating, and chasing sex in all its forms are not problems, but in truth, are the solutions to what all these people dread and consider worse than any of the consequences resulting from their addictive styles. Yet unless we are willing to face this so-called negative aspect of our humanity, we are left living on an endless treadmill with the same deadly results.


What is our greatest fear or our worst enemy?

This fear is always present but it is the last thing we want to look at. It is the fear of emptiness. Can we think of anything more painful for us to hear from others than,“You are nothing”? From the moment we are born, we are directed to become SOMETHING. We chase one thing after another in hopes that we don’t have to experience the dreaded sense of emptiness, and we find the holy grail called happiness. There are some of us who believe that they have found “it” and will never have to feel empty again. In the case of the people I mentioned in the beginning of this article, they were possibly under that illusion, only to discover that the nagging emptiness had returned and was alive and well. Yet many others never even reach that point and just feel lost in the despair of their consuming emptiness.

The running from emptiness is the reason that we see so much divorce in our culture. People often marry in hopes that their spouse will forever fill that deep loneliness and emptiness. At first it seems like they will, but then after several years, we feel the emptiness returning, and we assume that there must be something wrong with our choice in mates. We begin to believe that our real love lies elsewhere, and before long we are divorced and off on our search.

The great influence

This article was originally published at The Relationship Doctor Bruce Derman. Reprinted with permission.
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Doctor Bruce Derman


Bruce Derman, Ph.D.


The great thing about my books is they provide you with a core understanding of relationship based on my 43 years of being a psychotherapist. They teach you how to move through your impasses without spending countless hours in therapy with the wrong therapist.                         

Location: Woodland Hills, CA
Credentials: PhD
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