Since I have become immobile, I’m now able to sift through exactly how I spend each moment of my time, and how it affects my mood. I have to pass the time by doing various things; reading, writing, playing the guitar, listening to music, listening to podcasts, watching movies and shows. I noticed though, that some of these actions cloud my mind and depress me, while others give me focus, and the feeling of control. Why is that important? Because achieving a feeling of control is essential when you can’t do many things for yourself. When I can’t stand for very long because my ankle swells up, and because I lack the ability to carry things in my hands that are occupied by crutches, I could submit to a helpless feeling which could be devastating.
You can break down your time into infinite ways, but I’m going to split it into two: taking action v.s. being used. I find that I can actually do the exact same thing, but depending on my reason for doing it, it can be either an action that I take, or it can be happening to me. Lets take reading an article. I can read a news article on my phone, but how did I arrive at reading that article? If I was looking for information and conducted a search, and the article popped up in my search results then my viewing it is a result of an action that I took. If however, I blindly went on to CNN.com and scrolled around looking for articles and something with a flashy picture and a semi-interesting title popped up, my reading it is the result of my basic human instincts responding to a stimulus. I am being manipulated into reading it.
Don’t read this stuff
The Republican and Democratic primaries went on this week and last, and I suppose because of a need to be entertained I followed the happenings of each. I immediately noticed a drop in my mood, and an increased feeling of helplessness. It was if I couldn’t stop picking up my phone and checking the news sites to see what new development occurred. Even when I would crutch by my phone on the charger, it would impulsively divert my physical path to walk over and pick it up before I realized what I was doing. The more I had my phone tethered to my side, the worse I felt, because even when I would resist the impulse to look at my phone, the impulse was still there, and I could feel its strong pull.
Since then I have stopped going to news websites to simply read what they provide me for entertainment, but I am now able to read articles as an action that I take. I do this by coming up with a topic for research before I pick up my phone, or open my computer. Now I am hunting for information, rather than information being fed to me, and the difference is life changing. You can do this with all sorts of activities. Did you research a movie to watch, or did amazon suggest one for you? Are you letting Pandora play in the background, or are you being active in listening to music? I can’t control most things in my life, including for the moment my physical mobility, but I can control this small area. I can resist the impulse to be entertained, reject media being fed to me, and instead conduct everything that I do as an action that I take.