The heart needs guarding
Girlfriends Tessa and Ginny meet up for their monthly lunch date. They look forward to this special time to catch-up and share laughs. Today Tessa opens up to Ginny about worn-out themes replaying over and over in her head:
Oh Ginny, where is this world heading? Every day I see or hear something on social media or in conversation that ignites my thoughts and emotions. They zoom from high to low. One minute I’m in despair, and the next I squeal with delight watching an animal video that revives my heart.
I want the best for our world, but it feels as if it’s spinning out of control. Maybe constant exposure to social media and information-seeking has crossed a line. I’m having a hard time sleeping.
When I go to the gym and walk the indoor track, other members chat about happenings in the neighborhood. They opine on the state of the country, political opponents and global health threats. Their remarks are often negative, and despite my best intentions, I find myself joining the Sky is Falling pity party!
Why do I feel paralyzed by the world’s suffering which feels like we’re swirling in deep confusion? Can I stop attaching to these “stories”? By adding my two cents, do I contribute to the noise?
My intention to practice Peace, Love and Joy is constantly challenged. Our efforts to calm my mind fruitless? I’m feeling unsure if I possess enough emotional bandwidth to rise above feelings of personal powerlessness. How do I live and trust moment by moment, challenging forces which obstruct my peace and equanimity?
What is The Exposure Factor?
E-factor is what happens to body/mind/spirit/emotions when exposed to someone or something. In the example of Tessa, the exposure to events on social media and personal interactions is consuming vital energy vs. generating positive energy.
Although Tessa’s intention is to practice Peace, Love, and Joy throughout her day, the E-Factor targets a vulnerable internal landing spot within Alexis, thus opening her head to rumination, heartache, and distortions.
With today’s 24/7 access to news, stories and “talking heads”, we are inundated with hundreds of corrupting influences – so-called “experts” – for every topic under the sun. Who do we trust? What do we believe? How do we sort it out?
Based on personal values and interests, we select “favorite sources”. These “sources” show up in our inbox, flash a device update, or disrupt our evening walk with a friend’s grievance or rant. Alert or response messages appear unbidden on our screen. We have effectively given these “outside voices” free access into our personal domain. It used to be said, and today may ring truer than ever – “Someone is messing with my head.”
When we go online to search or scroll, a random headline may catch our eye. We click on the link and an hour later have forgotten what we were looking for in the first place! These off-path diversions often tempt us to look for and expose ourselves to more troubling news.
We realize too late we’re hooked on something new to add to our overwhelm pile. We can certainly access information, but it’s essential to monitor the exposure we permit into our lives. We must train ourselves to take guarding the heart and mind seriously.
After conversing with Ginny, Tessa concludes she needs to be mindful of her E-factor and commits to these ideas.
- Choose positive generating energies. For Tessa, this means unsubscribing from alerts that don’t produce positivity. She now seeks interaction with groups who focus on a positive global future, positive lifestyles and healthy dialogues.
- Gain clarity in heart and mind. Tessa reminds herself that if she doesn’t view her exposures with Peace, Love, and Joy she needs to consciously choose to eliminate unnecessary diversions.
- Purposefully set boundaries. Tessa brings her headphones to the gym and schedules gym-time at hours when she sees fewer people she knows.
- Carefully select information. Tessa loves to advocate for the underdog. She carefully chooses two causes that she is passionate about and activities that make her feel good.
- Monitor approved topics at friend gatherings. Tessa texts friends prior to their date and asks what they want to discuss. She sends them wellness and spiritual articles to spark ideas. She doesn’t judge or impose her own standards on others who do not share similar aspirations.
- Remain focused. Screen-out distractions. Tessa makes a list of what she wants to search online and sticks to it. She sets a timer to keep on track. If time is up and she still has things to look up, she shifts gears and does something else for a few hours before returning to the task.
- Get professional help.After writing out her ideas Tessa adds one more suggestion to the list – talk to a professional. If she continues to feel overwhelmed, stressed and unable to manage her screen life and maintain healthy boundaries, she will reach out to someone for support.