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“I’m SO STRESSED OUT!” she said. “I’m really upset about what’s going on. I can’t believe what they’re doing!” Carol (not her real name) sighed, then paused. We stayed silent, giving her space. She put her head in her hands and her tone changed from frustrated to defeated: “I don’t know what to do. How do you all handle this stuff?”

As a trauma-informed professional coach, my clients often express anguish like Carol’s during our sessions. This is truer nowadays than it was a few years ago. But in this case, I was a participant in a volunteer-led support group. I could feel parts of me wanting to fix Carol, but I’ve learned that people – including me – don’t always want (or need) to be fixed. Also, giving unsolicited advice can be deeply disrespectful.

But Carol had asked for input, so when it was my turn, I said, “What works for me is boundaries. I don’t watch the news because it’s too debilitating, and almost never provides new or useful information. Protecting myself this way allows me to stay healthy-enough and show up for others.”

“But I have to watch!” Carol responded. “I feel like I must witness! The suffering needs to be witnessed by people who care.” Her body language shifted – now she was both frustrated and defeated.

I didn’t respond and simply held space for her feelings. She’d asked for feedback and in that moment, mine hadn’t landed. However, if she’d been my coaching client, I might have asked next: What part of you feels compelled to witness others’ suffering? What’s important to you about this witnessing? And then: What would happen if you didn’t witness others’ suffering? Or perhaps: What does this witnessing cost you?

I’ve been struck by how many people – mostly women – are deeply affected by current events yet seem unable to peel themselves away from the news. Right now, in late 2023, it’s Palestine, or Ukraine, or Trump’s impending trials, or environmental degradation in any number of places. Next year it will likely be another, or additional, set of tragedies, troubles, and injustices. This is the reality of the metacrisis.

But when presented with the option to not constantly consume such news, people often resist, stating either moral duty like Carol’s compulsion to “witness”, or the need to “stay informed”. What’s curious to me is that while these folks seem unable to restrict what their eyeballs consume, they are often very discerning about what their mouths and stomach consume.

However, there’s a parallel.  What we see and hear is equally toxic to our well-being as what we eat and drink. What we allow into our psyches can kill our hearts and souls just like bacteria and poor-quality food can kill our bodies.

I’d therefore like people to consider avoiding the news for the following three reasons. Read the rest on Medium

Hey! Need support or guidance with stress, boundaries, or eco-anxiety?

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