Mindfulness

Take Back Your Life

We live in a world that is plagued with fear. Television programs, especially the daily news, assault our senses with increasing violence. All around us there is chaos. We barricade ourselves inside our homes with multiple locks on the doors, nanny cameras, and security alarms. We curtail our activities because we are afraid to go out after dark or to be alone. Almost unwittingly we have allowed the criminals to roam free while we have become prisoners in our own homes. This article discusses how you can begin to live a life free of fear by turning off the tv.

A few years ago I realized that I had begun to restrict my activities significantly. I was becoming increasingly suspicious of everyone. I rushed to get home before dark because I feared for my safety. One day I found myself thinking, “I don’t like my life. It’s becoming too small. The things I used to do I don’t do anymore. The places I used to go I no longer frequent.” It’s not that I had lived a rowdy or pretentious life; rather, I lived the conservative life of a mature woman--a life that was slowly being extinguished due to the messages I was internalizing and my limiting beliefs. I was participating in talk therapy at the time so I shared my concerns with my therapist. We decided on a freeing strategy that changed my life! The first thing I did was eliminate television. That’s not to say that I never watch it, I just don’t do it often and when I do I am very selective about what I view. Prior to making this change I was a television junkie! Every day I woke up to the news, watched it throughout the day, and it was the last thing I saw at night before I fell asleep. Many nights I woke up to find the news watching me! Laugh if you must but I’m sure that I’m not the only one who has done this! How many of you have had similar experiences?

Did you ever notice that in tv-land the word “news” almost invariably means bad news? Or that the highest ranked  programs focus on crime and violence? There are very few news stories or programs about positive people or events; rather, viewers are fed a steady diet of negativity: rape, robbery, murder, war, discrimination, minimization, and hatred. These stories gain high ratings as news and entertainment and generate billions of dollars in advertising revenue. They also plant seeds of fear, anxiety, worry, intolerance, hatred, and violence in your subconscious mind that can cause you to withdraw from the world and stop living your best life. 

So how are you thinking today? Do you want to live a healthier and more balanced life? If so, take a moment to step back and refocus. What are you feeding your soul? Recognize that the storylines in television programs represent just a small slice of life and are infused with the biases and prejudices of the writers, reporters, and producers whose primary goal is to gain a bigger share of the Nielsen tv ratings. They are not concerned with your health and wellbeing. Rather, this heavy diet of negativity often demonizes others based on skin color, gender, sexual orientation, and physical and cultural differences, and portrays them as being out to get you. I am not saying that you should not take safety precautions. What I am saying is that television producers are in the business of creating illusions so that station owners can make more money. It is not their goal to show life in its more balanced and humane form. In fact, much of what we call news and entertainment is so deficient in substantive content that it doesn’t deserve to be called either.

When I gave up television I made an amazing discovery! I began to get my life back! Today I no longer live in fear caused by the subliminal messages embedded in television programs. I now have more time to do the things that I enjoy. I read  more, which I’ve always loved but never had time for because I was too busy watching television. I go for walks in nature and I meditate. I go out at night to socialize with friends. I feel more positive about life in general. In other words, I now have a healthier, more active, and more balanced life. Does this mean that I’m out of touch with world events? Of course not! Thanks to the internet I can quickly catch up on the news, entertainment programs, and events of my choice. More importantly, I get to choose when, what, and how much of the mass negativity I am exposed to.

So here are some questions for you. Are you feeling down and out about life? Is your world  spiraling out of control? How much of what you’re experiencing is a direct result of your television viewing habits? Many television programs paint a picture of who and what you should be, do, and think. If you or your circumstances are different from what is shown in the program you may find yourself embroiled in fear and infected with the disease of Not Enough-ism. Additionally, news programs that focus on declining financial markets, natural disasters, and humanity’s inhumane treatment of itself all have a negative impact on your mental and physical health.

Much of the anxiety and fear that we experience in our daily lives stems directly from our worldviews, which we derive from others. My favorite book on this topic is The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. In it Ruiz speaks about the domestication of humans--a process in which we are taught how to live, what to think, and who to be. Television plays a key role in the domestication process. Together with input from our parents, schools, churches and other institutions, television teaches us how to be human. So here’s the million dollar question for you to answer--do you love the human you are being programmed to be? Or would you like to be different? Remember, despite contrary messages, you have the power to create your own life and to arrive at your own beliefs. Who or what would you be if you weren’t infected by the negative messages promoted by mass television? What would your life be like if you were tv-free? What fun things would you have time for? What could you do to feed your soul? How would your life be different? Remember, all change begins with a thought. Change your thinking, change your mind, and change your life! If you don’t like the you that you’re being programmed to be, throw away the remote. Take back your life!

Many blessings on your journey!

~Peace
~Dr. Sue