Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Kicking the Habit

Two months ago, I gave up reading the news, watching the news, and reading Facebook, which contains a high volume of news posted by friends and loved ones.

The results?

I feel great!

I'm sorry that I'm not responding to people's posts currently, but this has to do with self-care, self-preservation, and even care for my family and my students.

Most news is inherently toxic to our well-being, creating anxious hearts and minds, which affects our relationships with those around us.  The patterns of watching news, posting news, and getting into mental arguments or Facebook arguments is similar to any addiction.  We lose control, we feel like we can't stop, and we feel like we might die if we don't get our fix.  

In fact, when I disengaged from the news, I felt this sort of detox effect, of course in a *much* smaller way than hard core drugs, for example.  Nevertheless, any addiction, say to gambling, gossip, or news has a chemical component to it.  I really did detox to a small extent because my body was used to getting fed with certain chemicals through the addictive process.

The beautiful thing about disengaging from the news is the lessening of anxiety in my life over the past two months.  I have less fear of the world and my life falling apart catastrophically.  I can simply take in what is in front of me in the real world in real time.  In the real world, I can actually confront injustices for real, rather than just ranting and raving about them on Facebook or in my own mind.

In fact, the other day, I was talking with a Muslim man who told me that an Uber driver had refused to pick him up because he was a Muslim.  It was flat out discrimination.  He contacted Uber to file a complaint, but let's face it - it went undealt with.  In this situation, I was able to express empathy and give some advice to this man, as best I could.  I explained that I wish the man had received consequences for his actions and sorry that he got away with such a discriminatory action.  

Do you see the difference here?

I could read all sorts of news and get upset about all sorts of things, leading to lots of anxiety.  I could post all sorts of things in protest to Trump, Obama, Ophrah, or white supremacists.  Instead, I had the opportunity to deal with an injustice in real time and offer my support.

I'm not saying we all need to disengage from the news, but I guess the question is CAN I?  And, what sorts of effects is it having on my family or workplace?  To me, this is the most important.  Choosing to let go of things that produce anxiety in our lives is not just about self-care but also about our influence on those around us.  My family is more important than my supposed need to be informed.

(Taken with permission from flickr creative commons by Linda Aslund at https://www.flickr.com/photos/lindaaslund/)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Preemptive Relational Strikes

In college, I attended a presentation in my residence hall called "Dr. Love: Advice on Dating".  Dr. Love was a sixty year old man, married to his wife for many years.

One thing I remember was his discussion of routines and preemptive love.  His example was that when his wife took a shower, he always pulled out a towel and put it on top of the heating vent to warm it up for her.  Everyday, she had a warm towel when getting out of the shower.  

Recently, our two-year old daughter has been getting up a bit earlier than we would like, especially for my wife, who likes to sleep in.  I found that my daughter will go back to sleep for almost another hour if she gets a bottle of milk, which helps her go back to sleep.  When she wakes up, my wife can just give her a bottle without talking, leave, and that's it.

I usually get up early, so what I've been doing lately is making a bottle for my wife and sticking it in hot water before I leave for work.  Then, when my daughter wakes up, my wife doesn't have to scramble, trying to put a bottle together before our daughter fully wakes.  She just grabs the pre-made bottle, gives it to our daughter, and goes back to sleep for another hour.

Whether it is a heated towel or a heated bottle, the rule is the same.  Try to find way to strike preemptively with love.  Often it is found in routines that meet our partner's needs.  Study your partner, ask your partner, and find out what they need.  These "small" things can have a huge impact over time.

(Photo taken with permission from flickr creative commons by Tinou Bao https://www.flickr.com/photos/tinou/)