Learning to Discern: balancing news, opinions and being able to just let it go.

March 2021. It’s been a tough year. For everyone. In addition to health concerns, the lockdown, a contentious election (let’s just say politics in general), the past twelve months have been (insert any synonym for “unprecedented” here). For me, it’s also been a challenge to process the constant barrage of news.

As someone who likes to discuss current events and issues (and sometimes write about them) it’s been a tough edit. Will my words seem shallow or too opinionated? Will they be viewed as insensitive to others? The rules for sharing (maybe venting is a better word) thoughts and opinions seems to be ever-changing and the stakes can be high for those who speak out.

Everyone is on edge. Everyone has suffered. Some much more than others. And that has become a driving force in discussions about Covid, politics and everything else that’s intertwined.

In the midst of all of this we are also dealing with emotions and feelings of fear and frustration over what is happening in the world. The protests, the election, the election fallout, the violence, the politicians constant bickering.

It seems as if our world is in a never ending downward spiral and we are all at each others throats. No trust. No tolerance. No grace. It’s hard not to want to speak out. To stand up for what you believe in. To want to make a difference. And then there’s the dilemma of when and how to share.

What to do? How does one manage the constant barrage of negative news day after day without wanting to speak out about issues of importance? Issues that may also be divisive?

During the lockdown I found myself becoming somewhat of a news addict, always looking for more information; online, on TV and scrolling through social media. It’s so easy to go down that rabbit hole.

I subscribed to several online newspapers and found myself sharing political and opinion articles on social media resulting in some lively discussions and debates. I’d sometimes go back and delete posts when I noticed the comments becoming a bit too heated. I felt like I was on a debate team and noticed I was becoming increasingly anxious and stressed.

So much news, so many opinions..

In the interested of mental health, I decided to back off on the news for awhile and tuned into the Food Network to distract myself. I soon found myself watching back to back episodes of Guy Fieri driving around the country trying out local diners and rooting for professional chefs to “Beat Bobby Flay”. It did keep my mind occupied and my cooking game was getting strong, but I knew I had to find balance as this type of escapism wasn’t going to work for me in the long run.

I acknowledge that I’m wired to be curious about what’s going on in the world. The good, the bad and the ugly. For me, ignorance is not bliss and I’ve never been accused of being a “pollyanna” but I also know that ingesting too much gloom and doom leads to a perpetual state of anxiety.

I decided to implement some lifestyle tweaks (beyond TV programming), starting with replacing my habit of waking up to news on my ipad with opening a meditation app instead. This had the instant impact of starting each day on a positive note. (For those interested, I use the Calm app.) When I do turn to the news, I make sure it’s from a variety of sources. I also turn off the TV when I’m not actively watching a program, an effective way to go on a “news-diet”.

I’m getting better at balancing my appetite for constant news with what’s happening in my real world. Being informed is good, but it can also ruin appreciation of the present. I will always strive to stay up to date on current affairs and I will continue to share my opinion on important issues. I’m getting better at discerning when it’s helpful to share, when it’s wise to comment and when it might make sense to hit the delete button.

My goal is to stay informed, ask important questions, speak out mindfully and make a positive impact on the world. And to know when “to just let it go.” Speak your truth always. Namaste.

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