A Break From Unnecessary Drama
Do you ever feel caught up in the “Media” frenzy when disasters strike? Do stories regarding dramatic weather, or planes landing in the Hudson River, or banking scandals, or babies born by “in vitro fertilization,” or even celebrities faux pas ever seem blown out of proportion by “Hype?” We news consumers are often bombarded by the media as they attempt to gain, and then hold, our attention…
Tips for gaining control of your life…
The news media is more than a source for information and current events. It has become a “roller coaster ride” of drama and self-aggrandizement. We consumers of these presentations are swept up and our visceral anxiety responses are fanned into a frenzy. But why are swept up in this media blitz of emotion?
Since the dawning of the “Information Age” in the 1970’s, we have been steadily drawn into an escalating 24/7 need for worldwide news and the media has provided us with anxiety producing excitement from every corner of the world. Technology allows this instant communication and seems to encourage our “need to know” mentality. We “need to know” because we have a very primitive survival mechanism that stimulates our external focus on any threats, even perceived threats that may exist thousands of miles away, so our unconscious minds can protect us by preparing to fight or to flee from “danger.” When the Flight/Fight Response is triggered, our reactive, survival mechanisms take priority. We can react with “knee jerk” habitual patterns that are unique to our learned responses, but are born from the survival reaction. One major reaction that occurs for many people under threat is a reduced ability to creatively problem solve and communicate effectively. We react and often do not really think things through. When this occurs, mistakes can be made. Accidents can happen. People or projects can get hurt. Relationships can be harmed. Our world can suffer by becoming a victim to poor rational thought in cases of fear or media driven anxiety. It is an extra “heaping, helping” of annoying distractions that take us away from self-care, focus on priorities, and creative pursuits that promote productivity and well-being.
Just before 9/11/2001 our news media changed. Do you remember? About 3 months prior to the terrorist attacks on New York, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania, the television news media upgraded their reporting to include, not just a “talking head” (reporter) giving us the “news” but also text messages flying by on the bottom of the screen, and often a graphic on the left of the “talking head.” Now we have to deal with 3 sources of information simultaneously. This multi-tasking creates added frenetic anxiety in coping with this increased input. Have humans evolved to keep pace with this new use of technology? When we are threatened, we have a response that NEEDS to know what is going on around us so that we can take action and survive any threat. We are often overwhelmed. We have learned to cope by becoming unconscious regarding this media craziness. The media fights to keep our attention. The media has evolved their approach to sensationalize their coverage, to yell at us even louder, with more graphic events that “demand” our attention. Even the weather news whips us with “STORM” coverage that makes weather events major news, even when it occurs hundreds of miles away!
To combat this media blitz on our senses we must do three things. First, we must become aware that we can become victims to sensationalism that may not necessarily be an immediate threat, and filter the news so that we can respond more appropriately. Secondly, as my friend Rodger Ruge suggests, we should consider a media “Fast,” where we reduce and limit the amount of media news that we subject ourselves to. For many of us, turning off the news, especially before bedtime, would be a very good option. The third necessary step is to practice self-care and strengthen our emotional foundations by eating better, avoiding caffeine, getting regular exercise, and practicing daily relaxation.
Awareness of the media frenzy can help protect us and our children from the “overwhelm.” Since the mid 1980’s, we have been deluged by new technologies that force us to react to news and information that is swirling around us. We have experienced: pagers, fax machines, cable TV with 500 channels, Cell phones, text messaging, e-mail, internet information, changes in media coverage of world “disasters,” “robo-calls” at dinner time, and huge expectations that we are plugged in 24/7 and can respond instantaneously even when we are driving our cars…. This is crazy making! Some people can handle this gracefully, in fact, some people can thrive in this environment. But most of us are just victims to our technology and can benefit from setting some limits on the ways that we use, and react to, our technologies… We need to evolve and to create survival strategies that meet our unique, individual requirements.
Please be smart and figure out how to “not become a VICTIM” to the media and our newest technologies!
When we see natural disasters on the TV, we think that we filter the visceral effects on our survival systems, but our unconscious often reacts to the possible threats that are perceive through our visual and auditory senses. When we witness “coverage” of war zones, murders, attacks, rapes, fires, or vehicular accidents, we may believe that this does not affect us at a “conscious level,” but we are still triggering the flight/fight response in some systems at an unconscious level. Have you ever noticed your heart race or your gut tighten when confronted by news or movies? Does your neck, jaw, or back react to accidents or disasters that you witness in person or on TV? Do thoughts of “media images” ever pop into your conscious mind as you try to sleep? We are bombarded by negative media attacks almost everyday.
Do media pundits ever whip you up with their “news coverage” or editorials so that anger or fear seem to rise to the surface of you or your loved ones? This can be emotionally and physically hard on our systems…. Be aware and do not get caught up in the media circus, if at all possible.
Final note. Many people are studying and applying the principles of the “Law of Attraction” believing that goal setting and positive attitudes toward achieving these goals is essential to success. World class competitive athletes have been using these “Sports Psychology” techniques in their training regimen for decades to achieve advantages in mental preparation in their events. When we get caught in the sensationalized, negative reporting by the various media we are sapped of our positive thoughts and energy. We lose our focus on attracting success and positive outcomes. In fact, we can be overwhelmed by negativity. This can strip you of your ability to problem solve in positive and creative ways. Negative thoughts can attract negative outcomes, mistakes, and ill health. Avoiding negativity (and negative thoughts) can be a path to better health and lead to positive outcomes. “Dwell in the Light” (Choose “Joy”) and when you feel overwhelmed, consider turning off the negative newscasts and immerse yourself in a book or audio program, or a video that will inspire you with positive; thoughts, actions, and emotions.
L. John Mason, Ph.D. is the country’s leading stress management expert and the author of the best selling “Guide to Stress Reduction.” Since 1977, he has offered Success & Executive Coaching and Training.
Please visit the Stress Education Center’s website www.dstress.com. If you would like information or a targeted proposal for training or coaching, please contact us at (360) 593-3833.