Television addiction can develop when life is tough going, viewing is easy we don't have to think too much, but if you have a feeling somewhere that you can change things for the better the problem usually is “where do I start”.
“Where do I start” can go on for a long time – even years - and the constant pressure to achieve, defend what we have and deal with the fear of it all can create a feeling of being overwhelmed.
Depleted by this worry and fear, for many the answer to escape the feelings is to watch television.
Television addiction is so much part of our culture and watching TV is such a routine activity that it is often automatically associated with relaxing.
Usually while watching television the mind goes blank; for a while worries recede and you become absorbed by the images and sounds – the almost hypnotic effects of television.
Reality becomes suspended for a while with the experience of watching television replacing real experiences.
We spend roughly one third of our lives sleeping, if you are lucky enough to have a full time job you spend another one third working (hopefully enjoying this experience) or managing the home and family.
So that leaves another third for “us”.
How much of that third have you spent watching television?
Go on - work it out, be honest, translate it to years and remember to include your childhood, and then take a look at this -
If you feel you are in phase 3 or even phase 2, TV may be leading you into switching off from your ability to create the space for the changes you most likely want to make.
You are not alone in this as millions of people use TV as a form of relaxation, feeling that switching off from daily worries in this way is helpful.
The truth is what is really helpful is switching off the TV more regularly.
Television Addiction -The Good
All this is not to say that all TV is mind numbing; this is far from the truth because as we know there can be life changing, life affirming and very funny shows on TV- the good.
Television Addiction - The Bad
We also know that a large portion of programs are mediocre to say the least – have you watched a”canned laughter” sitcom through without laughing? – the bad.
Television Addiction - The Ugly
There is also some programming that can have you questioning why such a show was even made in the first place – the ugly.
But if you are in phase 3 or phase 2 above you know it’s possible to sit for hours surfing between the good, the bad and the ugly and “relaxing” your precious hours away.
But don’t feel bad or guilty, the good news is that if you really want to stop there are many ways of “baby” or even abruptly “stepping” your way out of TV addiction.
If you do feel there is more you want to do with your life but are stuck in the “where do I start” treadmill – good news- you are aware of your situation.
In this situation bring the “where do I start” down to one simple thing you want to do and decide to switch off the TV and just do it.
This could only take 15 / 20 minutes – clean out a drawer, read that letter you’ve been putting off, delete those emails you’ve been looking at for ages then go back to the TV if you want.
But be alert- you
may not really want to go back to TV and even if you do switch on again
examine the feeling you had when doing this.
Was it a slight feeling of reluctance or relief? - Don’t question this – just feel it. - But now you’ve started and it’s over to you!
If you feel “baby stepping” your way out of television addiction is not for you try committing yourself to do a project that is really important for someone you know.
They will be relying on you to complete and you know you will have to cut hours off TV viewing to do it.
You may have to do this on the spur of the moment and may feel immediate regret – but now you’ve started and it’s over to you!
When you have succeeded – and you will - in switching off the TV, even for a short period, use that time to look at the bigger picture of “where do I start”.
Initially it is useful to use the freedom you’ve given yourself to quietly allow any dissatisfaction about your life to come to the surface.
This can be very uncomfortable but stick with it - one really interesting way to do this is through meditation.
After a while just pick a starting point – it doesn’t have to be perfect – but try to pick something in line with a goal you may have for yourself.
Remember it is persistence in building momentum with change that’s important – missing a day or even a week is not important – just start again!
And one last really important thing – in your “good” books learn about ego and how it contributes to confusion around “where do I start” in this case with television addiction.