Running to stand still

By John Rahme

“And so she woke up, Woke up from where she was, Lying still, Said I gotta do something, About where we’re going.” are the opening words to a song written by U2, the song named – Running to Stand Still. These lyrics came to my mind as I sat and listened to a group of men share their story. All from different backgrounds, race and nationality. All had suffered and were still suffering from addiction of one type or another. Their stories of people, places and things all had differences, but similar chains of feelings, emotions and self-hate were similar and familiar amongst each other. Their chains were drugs, alcohol and gambling.

I had known these men for a period of six months. In these six months I had been training these men to prepare for a 1000km bike ride. A ride which consisted of riding on mountain bikes with an average of 80 – 120km per day. Each day arriving at a new destination, a new school where these men spoke to the children at the school about the turmoil of their life at the hands of addiction.

Chaos and madness were the main and familiar ingredient within each one of their tales. Insanity was not far away in any of their accounts. Days of sadness and despair. Moment after moment of letdown. The continuous struggle to be clean and sober. The devil perched on their shoulder with complete power over each life and each day spiralled lower, hell was a fun park in comparison to what each man was going through daily. Each gentleman would describe a trauma that had occurred, then continued to describe how they relentlessly attempted to get over this scenario. Only to find themselves in another situation much worse off. The story would continue down this very track. Each step with even the best of intentions drove them deeper into a dark place of despair and self-loathing. Clutching at straws in the hope of finding a resolution to be disappointed time and again.

Whilst listening to these men’s stories I could see and feel anxiety, uncertainty and confusion. They were doing their best to get through a part of life which had become unbearable and they tried so damn hard to get out of the hole they were in. I could envisage a figure frantically moving trying to solve a problem, running from one spot to another praying to find an end.

Running to stand still.


Running to stand still I use as a description when you are doing your best to climb a hill or get over an obstacle with oil spread over the ground. This causes you anguish and frustration, as you try to move forward but slip and slide as you can not find traction. Clouding your mind and judgement, with every slip; anger comes to the forefront of your emotions. You know that you have to keep moving but have lost sight of how you can move forward.


In these times of despair, it is hard to recognise what is happening to you both physically and mentally. Your thinking brain has conceded and your feeling brain has taken over the ship as captain. This is not a healthy scenario to be in.

When your life in that moment becomes as I have described and you have become aware of it, I suggest you try the following;

  1. Do not try and reason with your feeling brain with logic, it does not respond to this at all.
  2. Get to a place or area where you feel safe and peaceful.
  3. STOP EVERYTHING…. regather yourself with breathing.
  4. Strip yourself of all thoughts and focus on one problem. No other.
  5. Suggest to your feeling brain that the emotions and feelings it is attaching to this problem are not helping you physically and mentally.
  6. Remind the feeling brain of a time where you both quietened yourself down and during this process found a resolution to the problem which served you well.
  7. Focus for a moment on the good emotions and feelings which your feeling brain gave you in resolving your problem.
  8. Now that you have both, your feeling brain and thinking brain been satisfied and negotiated in the process of resolving a problem, attend to the problem at hand.


We mostly love to feel our way around. This is not a bad thing, as it also allows us to move forward in a cautious manner. Being careful not to jump right into something which we are unfamiliar with. If we allow only the feeling part of us to control us, we may end up in a bit of strife. Finding a good balance is what we are all wanting. I do hope that my suggestions do help you in some way.