How To Deal With Exposure To Negativity.
In the previous article (titled Worrying – The Truth About It), we discussed the negativity that we are exposed to on a daily basis.
To be precise, I suggested “Switch off from the media – the Black Eyed Peas said “Wrong information always shown by the media. Negative images is the main criteria.” Regardless of how positive or optimistic you are, your mindset will become what you feed it.”
After receiving feedback from more than a dozen readers about how they resonated with that suggestion, I decided to elaborate on how to productively handle daily exposure to negativity.
In an article on Mindfulness, by Kerry Song, she mentioned:
“British psychologist, Dr. Graham Davey, told the Huffington Post that exposure to negative and violent media could actually have long-lasting psychological effects. In fact, Davey maintains that “viewing negative news means that you’re likely to see your own personal worries as more threatening and severe, and when you do start worrying about them, you’re more likely to find your worry difficult to control and more distressing than it would normally be.””
Sadly, negative news is more popular and it gets more attention.
How do we productively deal with constant exposure to negativity?
Here are 3 suggestions:
- Proactively engage yourself with happy stories – there is no shortage of happy stories out there. It’s just that we are more exposed to the negative ones. Let me share an example with you. As a speaker and writer in the Animal Rights movement, I often get contacted by people who are disturbed by the amount of animal cruelty in the world. One lady contacted me via email after watching a video clip about how leather is made. She saw cows being forced to walk for hundreds or kilometres, being beaten, and then being slaughtered without stunning. She was absolutely fuming and cried afterward. My first suggestion to her was to watch a happy story about an animal rescue, which she did. That made her happy and restored some faith in humanity. She did research and found a charity that rescues cows from the leather industry, and was relieved to see many cows living a happy life after being rescued. My second suggestion was to turn that anger into a productive force – do something to help these poor cows. She donated money to that charity that rescues cows from the leather industry, she shared that video clip with her family/friends, and promised to never buy leather products again. Her commitment to me was to watch happy animal rescue stories each day for the next 30 days. She felt more empowered (instead of angered), and used that empowerment to help more animals. Please purposefully engage yourself with happy stories.
2. Focus on what you can control – while you or I might not be able to bring world peace in the next 24 hours, there are many other things that we can do to make society a more liveable place. If you start constantly worrying about the state of affairs between certain nations, or the spike in crime rates in a particular city, or the number of kids dying each day through starvation, your focus will bring more negativity into your mental and emotional states. That will not be productive. Do something that is productive. If you are concerned about world hunger, then maybe you could volunteer at a soup kitchen that feeds the homeless in your city. The point is – you always have the liberty to do something even though it might seem like it is on a small scale. Whenever you are exposed to negativity in the media, remind yourself that there are certain things that are beyond your control, and that you are better off in choosing to focus on things that you can do.
3. Become more self-aware – learn to recognise your emotions as they surface, and what they are triggered by. If you get very angry and say “I hate humans” every time you see a violation of human rights on TV, you know that anger (in this case) was a by-product of your exposure to a violation of human rights. The trigger and the effect are clear. Whenever you are exposed to similar stories in the future, quickly remind yourself that you are about to get very angry. Then, put a strategy in place to overcome that anger. It could be as simple as getting up and going for a short walk, taking a few deep breaths, or looking at a picture of something that will make you smile (a photo of your children, your dog, or your cat). The more self-aware you are, the lesser the impacts of negativity in the media will be on you. Please remember, humans have a negativity bias (this has been proven over and over again). Hence, it is your duty to feed yourself less negativity, and more happy stories.
My call to action for you is:
- Every day, make a conscious effort to expose yourself to happy stories.
- Share those happy stories with people around you. The world needs more happiness.
Quote: “There are a lot of pros and cons about media; it’s just how you choose to handle it and how you have to be prepared for the negatives as well.” Aubrey Peeples
The choice to deal with constant exposure to negativity is in your hands. You can allow it to sadden you and anger you, or you can choose to focus on the good things that are happening in the world, and use that as a driving force to do more good yourself.
Influencing you towards your excellence,