It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, and while sitting at my desk, reading the New York Times with a cup of strong coffee in my hand, I take pause. My core feels somewhat disturbed, tight, and without comfort. I realize that I am painfully being consumed by the darkness leaping from my screen.
If you spend any amount of time reading news feeds (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) or digital newspapers, you understand the overwhelming power and influence of media over perception. This week, for instance, Trump/Ryancare failed, Comey disclosed that the FBI is researching Russian influence in the United States electoral system, and London is in recovery from the world’s most recent and tragic terror attack on western culture. The media is obsessed by the new Trump reality (for profit of course). It is also a stark reminder that voters should always be careful what you ask for.
Human consciousness is insidiously being forced into the dark realities of our modern human existence, largely promoted by the media industry (tragedy sells). If you have a propensity for dysphoric mood, there is no shortage of hopelessness right within reach to influence your day.
I have a confession – For many years, I felt a duty to dive into this dysphoric experience. You can call it a kind of “honouring” of the various horrors of the world. I believed that it made me a more intelligent and understanding person. I realize now how very flawed this approach was, an approach that never served me well, no matter how often I used it.
My willingness to wade into the abundant darkness was supported by my belief that emotions were only basic organic expressions of reality. Emotions pass with time without any responsibility on myself for their existence. In essence, emotions were something that happened to me.
The Purpose of Emotion
As a clinician, my understanding of emotions, and their purpose, has shifted over the years. I have come to believe, after almost twenty years of experience walking side-by-side with patients as they work through their intra-personal challenges, that emotions are a wonderful system of feedback. Specifically, emotions let us know what is happening, both internally (driven by messages we have come to accept about ourselves), and externally (driven by what we choose to consume.)
Guided Emotional Experience
I now know the following as fact – The consumption of both internal and external messages is guided by choice. We cannot choose the specific emotional experience that we are having at any given moment. However, we can guide the emotional experiences we will have. Cognitions are internal messages that we have the power to challenge and restructure. Emotions are internal messages that we guide.
My Buddhist friends might remind me that emotions, “...are like clouds, they come and go.” I agree! However, with the heavy realities of the modern world, it becomes our duty to choose what we are in the presence of and consume.
How do you handle the powerful influence of media on your consciousness? What are the best tools to manage the powerful messaging we are regularly bombarded with?