When it comes to movies, TV shows and games that are all action, thriller, suspense…what does your body think about it? I can almost hear you say ‘Huh?’Some 25 years ago I became aware of the stress response in my body while watching my favourite sci-fi drama series ‘The X Files’. During an ad break I closed my eyes, and I noticed my heart racing and the adrenalin pumping. I was shocked to realise how stressed and unhappy my body was and in that moment I made a conscious choice to stop watching anything that felt like that.
Recently I was exposed to it again while I was a guest in someone else’s home and my body could not tolerate it at all, even though I was only hearing it (the volume was overpowering what I was listening to on the internet with my earphones).
While I used to love those kind of shows and I can certainly understand people wanting to watch them, now that I know what I know, I sooooooo cannot comprehend how we humans can abuse our body like that for ‘entertainment’.
When I studied NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), I understood more about why – EVERYTHING we see stays imprinted in our mind even if we’ve consciously forgotten it, and the unconscious cannot tell the difference between real and imagined, even though cognitively we know violence in a movie is make believe.
Many wise teachers have suggested not watching the news – which focuses obsessively on the negative without balancing with the positive, and which is repeated ad nauseum so we get to churn things over and over and over again. I stay informed and engaged with the latest news via the web, where I can read headlines and choose what to read more of, rather than have TV news editors decide what is visually appropriate for me. Plus I keep in mind there are a zillion incredibly special, beautiful, positive things happening in the world every moment.
I’m a far more content, heart-peaceful person these days, for a multitude of reasons, but choosing not to expose myself to the societal ‘disease’ of trauma, drama and upset as it plays out on the screen has made a huge contribution to my health and well being, and therefore my life and what I can contribute to the world.
I invite you to experiment next time there’s an ad break in a suspense thriller or violent program. Close your eyes, listen to your body. I’m sure it would appreciate the opportunity to let you know how it’s getting on.