I was recently facilitating a webinar on taking care of yourself in the digital age when a question came in around how much news you should be watching. Beyond any answer to this, the question itself reveals a lot about not just what we are up against with 24 hour news cycles, but also lots and lots of essential awarenesses to be had around what we feel we need to watch. Or perhaps, more to the point, endure, in order to be part of the world. In order to be informed. In order to know what is going on.
In order to belong.
The question asked speaks volumes about where we go to find our answers. In other words, how often we look outside of ourselves to tell us not only what we should know, but also how we should feel about what is going on. More to the point, whether or not we actually have a choice. But the truth is, to live well in the world we currently inhabit is to cultivate a sense of sovereignty over our own life when it comes to where, when, and how much information is in our best interest to take in.
This requires a deep sense of self-trust. One that gives you the permission, the fortitude and the strength to opt out of what is not working for you. Believe it or not, this can be simple. This can be something you determine without an expert or some culturally accepted metric. And it is nothing more, or less, than posing one simple question to yourself:
“Is this helping or hurting?”
Sound naive? Maybe. Sound like an out-of-touch-with-your-head-in-the sand approach? Perhaps. But what if deciding what you take in and what you do not graduates you to the position of someone who has taken full responsibility for how they feel. Someone who has recognized that to be on constant overwhelm is to harm both themselves and those around them. And that to decide your own mind, what it is that you will put into it and what it is that you will not, is to make you a trustworthy source in the world.
Think about it. We believe we need to watch the news to know what is going on. But in the process we often lose touch with, or override the reality of, what is going on within ourselves. And when we are lost and disconnected from ourselves, how can we possibly believe we are in any position to make wise and discerning use of what is coming at us from across a screen? As a matter of fact, from this place all we can do is to spread the contagion of overwhelm and fear.
Just how many times do you need to see images of places burning and out of control to know what is happening for others? Just how many times a day do you need to watch the maps and follow the numbers to be aware of what we are up against in terms of world health?
Watch yourself. Feel yourself. Trust yourself.
Are you more or less empathic after the umpteenth image or news report? Does what you watch leave you paralyzed in your own life? Are you left afraid to be alive?
These are your answers.
Puzzle this out for yourself. Do not look to anyone else. And when in doubt? Get truly single-celled amoeba intelligent as in move towards, move away. Move towards what is life-affirming. Move away from what is toxic or depleting. It is that simple.
P.S. And when the rational mind comes in to tell you why you must do something that feels harmful to you, I will leave you with what someone once said to me; “Two drowning people are not better than one.”
Save yourself and you are now in a real position to help others.