I'm in need of a bad news intervention. I read Facebook and Google News like an addict in need of a fix. I can't help myself. I click on headlines that promise a hefty dose of fear and I read what follows insatiably. If only I can stay informed and on top of all the bad news, I’ll be able to rest easy. WRONG!
Filling yourself up with bad news is like filling yourself up with sugar. The more you eat it, the more your body craves it, and the worse you feel as a result. Frankly, all this fear is giving me a stomach ache.
The world is full of bad news right now: contagious diseases, mysterious viruses, sex offenders, car crashes, shootings, stabbing, natural disasters, and global warming. It's enough to make anyone crazy, especially a mother who’s trying to make sense of the chaos she’s brought her kids into.
But there's something important we've got to understand. The world is also full of media outlets, bloggers, and news networks, all vying for our attention. They all need us to click on their headlines, to consume their bad news, and to come back for more, because they all need to remain profitable to stay in business. There is a very powerful machine turning out a lot of fear, and it’s our choice as to whether we’ll buy in or not.
We’ve been lead to believe that we must click, and read, and refresh so that we don’t miss out on something "really important." We're working for these media outlets. Every time we read a bad news story and we share it with our networks (online and offline) we're perpetuating the cycle of fear. It's not enough that we feel utterly terrified and helpless; we need to ensure everyone else we know feels the same way.
We're contributing to a culture of fear—and frankly, it's got to stop!
This week I called my life coach, Ellen White, for a fear intervention. Ellen is a mother too, and because she helps people all day long, she's also subject to all of their fear and bad news. These are the strategies she's developed to stay sane, and happy, amidst the fear.
1. Tune in and know when you've had enough. If you're binging on sugar and you start to feel sick, you probably stop eating. The same must be true for bad news. Know when to unplug, turn off the television, disconnect from Facebook, and tune in to the here and now. Most of what you're reading, you can't do anything about anyway, so why not focus on the things you do have control over. There’s nothing wrong with unplugging for a week or two. If there’s something really important that needs your attention, you’ll find out about it, I promise. Focus on what's in front of you and you'll likely have a lot more fun and feel much happier.
2. Get informed. When something scares you, search for unbiased, balanced information about it. Rather than relying on one news source or the links your social networks are sharing, do some digging of your own and find out everything you need to know. Then make a decision as to whether this issue needs your concern or not. Do everything in your power to protect yourself and your family. Then let it go and have some faith that you will be okay!
3. Exercise discernment when sharing. Stop the cycle by committing to think before you share. Like the worst diseases, fear can be fatal. You wouldn't want to spread illness to those you love, so stop spreading fear. Instead of clicking ‘share’ every time you read something scary, consider instead how you can cope with what you’re feeling in a more healthy way. Talk about how you’re feeling rather than sharing the source that induced that fear in the first place.
4. Focus on what you want rather than what you don't want. Mother Teresa said it best: "I was once asked why I don't participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I'll be there." What you give your attention to becomes your experience. If you focus your attention on the things that scare you, you're going to get a whole lot more scary things showing up in your life. If you focus instead on the experience you want to have, the peace, then you're more likely to get just that. Read good news stories and share them like crazy. Focus on the positive things happening in the world. Make a donation to a cause that worries you. Find out how you can help. Bring as much positive energy to the things you're afraid of and watch how the world around you starts to shift.
Bad news may be inevitable, but how you deal with it is very much in your control. It's time we all take back our power and our newsfeeds. Are you with me?
If you liked this post, you should really read these: Why You Should Put On Your Rose Coloured Glasses and How To Get Happy Now: Three Steps to Transform Your Mood