If you boil down most people’s problems, and certainly most people’s relationship issues, and almost just as certainly most people’s chronic health problems, at their root you’ll find one thing: avoiding reality.
Now, people aren’t doing this on purpose, anything but.
What happens is that most of us kind of get born into circumstances that are less than ideal, or find ourselves in a situation that really isn’t what we expected or wanted, and at that point, we are given a choice:
Either, we can take a deep breath, and face up to what’s really going on in our lives, and our relationships, and our own minds and hearts, OR, we can try to duck reality.
Here’s the thing: most of the modern world is built on that second option. Most of the stock market gains, and house price inflations is built on ducking reality. Most of Western healthcare – which tells you to just take the meds, just have the surgery, and that will solve all the problems – are built on the second option.
Nearly all the divorces in the world happen because people are ducking reality. There are literally whole industries – worth trillions of dollars – built on false science, and fake principles and certainties, that only gained traction because they gave people the option of being able to pretend that something other than reality was causing their problems.
What, people have emotional and mental issues because they were ignored, mistreated or traumatized as a child?!
That can’t be right.
What, women leave their husbands because the husband has bad character traits (all the time believing that he’s really perfect…) and the woman just can’t do it anymore?
What an absurd proposition!
And of course, the idea that our teens starting to smoke, or getting depressed, or dropping out of school, or going off the derecho, or struggling emotionally, might have something to do with how we are treating them also makes people feel very uncomfortable.
The whole world is a mirror.
Right now, there’s a bunch of people in California who are pretending that the only reason massive fires are going on in their state is because of man-made climate change.
And there’s a whole bunch of other people who think the world got here completely by random, when some primordial soup got hit by a lightning bolt 4.6 billion years ago (sic).
Can you prove that?
And what about God? Where does God fit into this picture, and all the other pictures painted above, because the most ‘real’ part of reality is that nothing is random, and everything is tailor-made to bring us back to God, and to get us to live the lives we are meant to be living.
For as long as we’re ignoring God, or pretending He doesn’t exist, or telling ourselves fibs about what we’re down here to do, or imagining that every action we perform (or don’t perform…) doesn’t have some very real consequences attached it – well.
We’ll remain stuck in the problem.
Whatever it is.
As long as we’re ducking reality, as long as we’re hiding the truth, we simply won’t be able to heal, improve, change and move forward in life.
We’ll stay blaming other things and other people; we’ll waste so much time tilting at imaginary windmills; we’ll stay shut up in our make-believe, often miserable ‘bubble’.
And that’s such a shame.
Sure, it’s scary to open our eyes and look truth in the face. Especially if we haven’t acted so nicely to others. Especially if we’ve made a lot of mistakes. Especially if the truth hurts.
But you know what?
We’re all in this together.
All of us have issues, none of us are perfect. And when we finally stand up, turn around, and face reality down – that’s when the good things in our life will really start to happen.
So, don’t be scared sweet reader. God is there to help us do all this stuff!
Facing reality can be so, so hard, I know.
But it’s the door to healing, health, hope, happiness and holiness.
Over the years, I’ve noticed a pronounced correlation with the amount of ‘news’ a person feels compelled to consume, and a marked deterioration in their mental health. Even back in the old days, before everyone was addicted to internet and iPhones and endless, poisonous ‘look at me’ tweets and Instagram notifications, news could still have a serious impact on a person’s outlook and mood.
Stocks are falling through the floor!!! (Cue to jump off a bridge, if you own stocks, or at the very least develop a very bad attack of peptic ulcers.)
Russia is going to nuke us!!! (Cue to lose all your joie de vivre, and to spend endless hours worrying about being vaporized by a Commie bomb.)
Butter is bad for your heart!!! (Cue to feel all guilty every time you put a pat of that creamy yellow stuff anywhere near your bread, or frying pan. And guess what they were pushing on the unsuspecting public instead of that ‘dangerous’ butter? Yup, you got it: margarine.)
It could be that once upon a time, the mainstream news was actually useful, contained some real facts, and wasn’t just a soap-box for big business and corrupt politicians to brainwash everyone into believing their own version of reality.
It could be.
But these days, that’s almost definitely not the case.
Most of the mainstream news is so devoid of anything that you could actually call useful, or factual, or even true, and so full of pessimism, manipulation, brain-washing and opinionated craziness, that the best way to deal with it is just to stay far, far away.
Because when you log on to a news site every five minutes, when you listen to those news announcers droning on about whatever it is they are trying to brainwash you into believing and thinking, when you buy into the idea that the only ‘news’ worth reporting and sharing is bad news, and angry news, and hateful news – that has a seriously negative impact on your mental health.
It can easily bring you down. It can easily make you angry. It can easily get your paranoid. It can easily make you feel like the sky is crashing down, and send your anxiety shooting through the roof.
Go cold turkey on the news
Yes, it’s true that there are many bad things happening in the world, including fatal car crashes, civil wars, and even (shock!) Roseanne getting dumped from her own TV show.
But so what?
Do you know how many good things are happening in the world? How many nice people there are out there? I’m guessing you probably don’t, if your only source of information is the news.
So, if you’re dealing with anxiety, worry, hatred, anger, paranoid, apathy, jealousy – basically, all those negative character traits that we all have in spades, especially if we consume a lot of information – then here’s the single best thing you can do for your mental health:
Go cold turkey on the news.
If it’s really important and really relevant to your life, I guarantee you’ll find out about it anyway. And if it isn’t – who needs it?
Who needs to waste all that energy and headspace being ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ Trump? Who needs to read more scare stories about humans causing global warming, and Russians being behind ever dark and despicable deed ever known to man? (Really? They are only behind half.)
And if I can add another piece of advice here, it’s this: also go cold turkey on bloggers who are obsessed with the news.
Because most of those folks are certifiably crazy. If someone has nothing better to do with their time than give second-hand opinions about third-rate news – why are you wasting the precious moments of your life by reading what they have to say?!
Go for a walk instead, go paint a picture, call a friend, play a game with your kid, read a good book, practice the lost art of thinking for yourself.
Do something, anything, instead of imbibing the deranged viewpoints of internet crazy people.
I promise you, you’ll feel so, so much better if you do.
Because really, the only good news is no news.
"Facebook’s founders knew they were creating something addictive that exploited “a vulnerability in human psychology” from the outset, according to the company’s founding president Sean Parker." - The Guardian
The first thing to understand is that social media was made to be addictive on purpose. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp – whatever the social media platform(s) you’re addicted to, they were all designed to keep stimulating your brain in exactly the way required to create some sort of mental dependency.
Why did they do that?
Because more users = more influence = more money.
That’s why Facebook has a nasty 30 day limit before it will really let you delete your profile, because it wants to give enough time for any resolution you made to come off Facebook to crack into pieces, and make it as easy as possible for you to go back in to the addiction.
Nice, isn’t it?
So, how can you get out of it?
Cold turkey is one route, but cold turkey doesn’t work for most people (not least, because of the sneaky tricks companies like Facebook are using to keep people hooked.) So instead, the answer is to try to take the time you spend on this stuff down by small increments, on a regular basis.
[I should just mention here that I got rid of all my social media, except Linked In, last year, so I’m not 100% up-do-date on the interfaces being used now, so what I’m suggesting here are broad-brush ideas.]
How can you do this? Here’s some practical suggestions:
It’s very easy to over-ride the password if you DO want to visit these sites, but having an extra obstacle makes it much, much easier to avoid impulse, knee-jerk visits that you really are just making out of force of habit. If you’re REALLY serious about putting these sites off-limits, have someone else K-9 them for you on your PC, without telling you the password they’re using to do that.
4) Don’t do anything anonymously. Sticking to this one, simple rule will help you stay out of a whole lot of trouble online, and take down a lot of the ‘thrill’ of surfing. If you can’t stick your real name on a comment, if you can’t openly visit a certain site, or group as your real self – don’t do it. It’s just feeding the dark side of your personality that is keeping you chained to the internet.
But, as with all addictions, there are deeper reasons for why you keep logging back in, so you may also want to spend some time doing the following:
1)Figure out how much time you’re actually spending on social media every day. Make a note of when you log on, and when you log off, over a 72 hour period. The answer will probably shock you, and it will help you to get more motivated to use that time on stuff that will actually nourish your life and your soul, instead of depleting it.
2)Find out what negative emotion is ‘pushing’ you to use social media. Here’s a few of the most likely culprits:
c.Apathy & despair
e.Sadness & depression
g.Frustration & anger
Once you know what negative emotion is triggering your social media use, then you can take steps to try to deal with it in a more productive way.
EG, if a sense of loneliness is causing you to feel you need to ‘grab some attention online’ by doing or saying something risqué, aggressive, ‘edgy’, or outrageous – think about what real, positive activities you could be doing with a real person instead. Doesn’t have to be anything to set the world on fire – could just be a walk in the park, or a bit of window shopping, or meeting up for a coffee.
(If you really want to take this up a level, try visiting an old age home – I guarantee you’ll find tens of people who would be only too happy to have someone to talk to, and to take an interest in.)
Meanwhile, to take another very common example, angry and frustrated people are just looking for some opportunity to knock someone else over online, or to make a ‘clever’ comment at someone else’s expense, or to try to blow a hole in someone else’s sense of well-being.
Doing this gives them a sense of feeling powerful, and important, and in control. And ironically, it’s exactly this that is actually missing in their REAL life.
So, the idea is the fill the ‘hole’ in your life that is currently full of social media with other, real, more productive things that will really give you something tangible back. But before you can figure that you, you first need to know what negative emotion is triggering your surfing habits.
3. Find productive REAL ways of doing whatever gives you a kick on social media. If you like debating ideas, consider taking a course somewhere that will enable you to do that. If you like finding new recipes online, go buy yourself a gorgeous cookbook (or borrow one from the library).
If you like knowing how your friend’s holiday really was – call them up and ask them!If you still need a bit more of a ‘push’ to get off, take a look at this video. It kind of hits the nail right on the head. (This has a couple of shots of women in it, buyer beware).
And the last thing to say, as always, is to pray on it.
God can turn anything around - even a soul-destroying addiction to the internet.
Another stunt the backseat driver likes to pull is telling you about stuff that happened to other people, that is highly unlikely to happen for you.
You’ve met the girl of your dreams, you’re ready to pop the big question, and here he pops up with a million examples of people whose marriage went sour to try and convince you’re making the mistake of your life. But those people aren’t you! And even if they come from similar backgrounds - even if they come from the same family - they still aren’t you.
So what that you grew up in the same home? Do you like exactly the same things? Do you work at exactly the same job? Do you have exactly the same personality, abilities or goals in life?
Nope? So don’t listen. That advice is talking about someone else, it’s not talking about you.
When you’re dealing with a healthy personality, the other person gives you space to express your views, put across another opinion, and generally listens in a respectful way to the points you’re trying to make, even if they don’t necessarily agree with them.
You won’t find any of these things happening by the backseat driver. The BSD doesn’t care what you really think and he’s not interested in having a real discussion with you. Remember, this is all about who gets to be in control, and while you’re the one actually steering the car, there can’t be two of you setting the direction.
The backseat driver wants you to see the world the way he does, and to act and react the way he would. Full stop. There’s nothing to talk about here. And the way he’ll pull you around to his way of thinking (once you’ve figured out that he is not you) is by grinding you down with an incessant monologue about what he thinks should be happening.
“You shouldn’t be so nice to people, they’re taking you for a ride. You should put yourself first, because if you don’t look after number 1, no-one else is going to. People are just looking for a chance to stab you in the back and pull one over on you. You can’t trust anyone. You should stop making an effort with those people. Everyone’s just in it for themselves, they’re all selfish, self-centred people.”
Is there a place for to respond, during a rant like this? Nope. Understand that trying to bring the backseat driver around to your point of view is a complete waste of time. So then, why bother arguing with him in the first place?
It’s because you’re not having that argument to persuade him of the truth.
You need the argument to persuade yourself of the truth.
Which is when the backseat driver will try another strategy out on you: As soon as he sees you’re starting to pull away from all the mind-control and automatic obedience to what he thinks you should be doing, he’ll try to rush you into making rash decisions.
“Do it now! Buy that massively overpriced house now, because if you don’t, someone else is going to step in and get the deal of the century! Tell your sister what you really think about her now! After what she’s just done you will never have an opportunity to tell her the real truth about herself, and if you don’t set things straight, how is she ever going to know how much she hurt you and how horrible she really is? Quit your job now! You can’t stand it anymore, it’s such a grind, the journey in is so tedious and horrible. Who cares about money when you’re so miserable? There’s more important things in life!”
Notice the backseat driver is hugely convincing, at least in the moment. But what’s missing here is the necessary give-and-take that will enable you to really explore all sides of a decision before really making your mind up. Sure, the decision itself is important, but what leads up to making it is probably even more so.
Because once you’ve explored all the angles, and really thrashed things out, and taken the possible consequences into account, only then can you really make a decision that you’re probably not going to regret, however it ends up turning out.
If a real person showed up and started trying to fill your head with nonsensical doubts and worries; or started picking holes in everyone you know and everything you’re trying to do, you’d (hopefully) run away pretty fast.
Who wants to take advice from someone like that? Who wants to have someone like that in control of their decision-making processes and view of the world? The guy is nutso! So the first and crucial step to breaking free from the backseat driver is to stop automatically agreeing with everything he’s telling you.
How do we do this?
After we’ve spent a bit of time really noticing the sorts of things he says and when, and how we start to feel after listening to one of his monologues or rants, the next stage is to start challenging the argument.
Try this: When the backseat driver is trying to convince you of just how terrible a particular course of action is going to be, or why you really are the ugliest person in the world and you’re never going to get a girl-friend, start to challenge the narrative.
Think of all the ugly people you know in the world who are in a relationship right now - there’s millions and billions of them. So many people with bad skin, crooked teeth, excess poundage and terrible haircuts have found their other half. Many of them have a thriving home life and happy families.
Why couldn’t that be you too?
Warning: the backseat driver will not take to this at all kindly, especially at the beginning, and will try to cower you into silence by going into a big list of ALL THE THINGS THAT ARE WRONG WITH YOU.
“You don’t have the job or the bucks that guy’s got. You haven’t got his group of friends, or his batting average. You don’t know how to ski. You live in the wrong neighborhood. Your family is way more messed-up than his is. You come from a broken home and no-one ever loved you right…”
On and on it goes. And the key to withstanding the backseat driver’s onslaught and to finally breaking free from his control is to not take him seriously. Remember, you are dealing with a loony tune here, a nutjob.
This is not someone that you want or need to take advice or opinions from in any way, shape or form.
Again, the only reason that you’re listening to the backseat driver is because you and him are the same person. But that’s not true! The real you, the true you, is so much wiser, smarter and nicer. And we’re going to learn how to get the backseat driver out of the picture so that real you can start to find their voice, hold on.
Because the real you is the only expert you really need, and the only source of advice you should really be listening to.
So, how you can tell the difference? Understanding when it’s the backseat driver talking or when it’s the real you talking is the key to starting to think straight, and starting to tune out all the chaos, upset and ‘noise’ that the backseat driver, or BSD, is filling our minds with.
Yes I can see, just keep backing up. You’ve got plenty of room behind you.
You should just drive down to Eilat; it’s so much easier than flying.
You should dye your hair blond.
You should dye your hair black.
You should take the overnight bus — its 11 hours but you’ll sleep practically the whole time.
Just glue it back together. She'll never notice the difference.
Tango Orange is a perfect shade for your bedroom, because it’s so happy!.
You can’t get chicken pox twice.
Don’t bother checking where it is on a map, I'm sure it's really easy to find
Shake it off. It doesn’t look broken and a sprain actually hurts worse than a break.
They always put the sell-by date really early, so people will throw it away and buy more.
Go running later, when it’s dark — that way the park will be less crowded.
You don’t need an electrician for that — just do it yourself.
You shouldn’t eat more than a couple of grapes at a time, it’s so easy to over-do it with fruit.
Next time the chatter starts up, with all its doubts and judgment calls, ask yourself if the backseat driver is qualified to give you his advice on this matter?
If you’re trying to buy a new sofa, what does this guy know that you don’t? Does he work in the business? Did his grandparents craft sofas by hand back in the old country? Is he a fine furniture connoisseur?
Nope? So don’t listen.
It’s not coming from a credible source.
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