Instantaneously, repeatedly, we are getting new as it happens: on phones, computers, radio and TV, Twitter, Facebook, emails, text messages…
The backdrop to our world IS bad news – climate change, pollution, war, fear of nuclear holocaust, germs, terrorism, financial failures, unemployment, loss of jobs, loss of homes, collapse of government, collapse different states.
The media reports on disasters in every little town in the world – making it available to everybody to experience emotionally — and those things are out of our control.
Just recently, for example, there were the floods in Australia and Brazil, the killings in Tunisia, the deaths in Arizona.
This constant bombardment of negative news through multiple sources impacts the psyche. It devastates us, because it’s human nature to respond by feeling emotion.
We can’t help it. After such a bombardment, we naturally begin to expect that when we walk out the door, we are going to be stabbed, killed, or involved in a major mudslide, hurricane or tornado. Those of us who carry our cell phones with us at all times, or work on the computer all day, receive especially heavy doses of negativity.
For my patients who are suffering from any disorder that impairs their ability to cope – schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder – they have to be very careful. They must restrict the news that they take in to small time periods. I also tell them to read the news (doesn’t matter if it’s on paper or delivered electronically), because that’s the best way to take in emotional issues because it has less impact. Without visual and auditory components, the news is less traumatic.
We need to keep things in perspective, too. Just because we see all those bad things happening in the news, it’s important to remember that the world is actually a very safe place. Although it appears that we are in constant jeopardy, most of us live safe lives, especially here in the United States. We live in a safe country where dangerous things seldom happen.
These things that happen on the news are not likely to happen to us.
Focus on positive things. Most of the time, people do the right thing. They do not go to Safeway to shoot or hurt people. Most people try to help. That’s the world we live in. Focus on that.
Concerning the sense of helplessness that we feel when we look at these events around the world, pollution, flood disaster in Australia, etc., it’s good to remember that we can change our immediate world. So, try making the world around you a better place. That’s empowering psychologically and physically and makes our environment a better place. This is a more helpful way to approach the news.