The Illusion of Darkness
In this fast-paced, opinionated world we live in it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. We’ve all been there. An election just won (or stolen depending on what you believe) has inflamed a country already teetering on the edge. Throw in a disruptive virus and you have a cauldron simmering with hate and malice. That annoying post on social media you must comment on or the email you get from someone that gets your blood boiling. The ignorant comment overheard at a gathering. Your mind is racing in rebuttal or the comment simply made you angry and defensive. You feel you MUST respond because:
Your feelings are hurt
You feel disrespected
You feel judged
You’re smarter than everyone
You know what is right and wrong for humanity
You’re having a bad day
You’re opinionated and angry about something
It gives you some kind of “shielded” power trip
Blah, blah, blah
Social media has given many, who normally wouldn’t have a voice, a voice. This can be very good at times yet can also be a breeding ground for people already unhinged to become more unhinged. Over the years I have practiced two strategies that have saved me from wasting tremendous amounts of valuable time and from enduring colossal amounts of embarrassment. These self-imposed methods are simple yet very effective. Frequently during the year, I take a “media boycott” and I also practice the “24-hour rule.”
A “media boycott” was something I imposed almost 20 years ago. It’s very simple as to the “why” and over time has become a sacred protector of my time and has given me back my attention to my life and those most important to me. At various times during the year, I simply shut off everything related to the news, sports, politics, business, etc. No TV, radio, or social media, I tune it all out. It humors me when people post that now that they are on vacation they can “get away from it all.” Why does it take a vacation to do this? Your TV has an off button, you don’t have to scroll thru news feeds online. It’s a choice. I have never understood why it takes a vacation to do this? With all this free time you can:
Read a good book (non-business, political, sports, etc.)
Call a friend you’ve put off calling
Work on that “big idea”
Tell someone you love them. Verbally.
Start the book you’ve put off writing
Write a “thank you” letter to someone. Ink and paper.
Work on your Will
Exercise, meditate, yoga
Dump unhealthy food and replace it with healthier options
If you think you’ll be “missing out” on something I submit to you, what you imagine you’re “missing out” on will take a far heavier toll on you than what you think you’ll be missing with a media boycott. Trust me. You won’t be missed as much as you believe and everything will still be here when you return. I find it better to be in awe of life rather to think life is in awe of you! My second strategy is The “24-hour rule.” The “24-hour rule” is one of my favorite sanity savers.
Almost, without exception, when I draft an email to a response or I type a comment to send, if I wait till the next day to send, I never regret waiting, ever. Imposing a “cooling off period” has saved me a tremendous amount of embarrassment and rarely a need to apologize. Often after drafting a response or opinionated comment I will simply wait to send it until the next day. The majority of the time I never send and if I do it’s a massively scaled down version.
150,000 Americans died last year from suicide, overdose, and alcoholism, an all time high. Many of us are in the dark, alone and afraid. Do you think quick-tempered, negative responses and a fixation on the news and politics is advancing your personal quest for well-being? Now go back to my list of what I do with my free time. What do you see? I see light. I see hope, joy, and inspiration. Darkness doesn’t have to have an existence. It’s just the absence of light. Like a nightmare once the light turns on and you wake up and the darkness is gone. Darkness can become an illusion if fed by light.