Sources Feeding Our Minds
We fill our minds with words, sounds, and images from many sources—books, television, movies, radio, interpersonal communication, and social media. Just as it is important to fill our stomachs with nutritional food, it is important to fill our minds with high quality data. Particularly if you are a sensitive person, you might find that it is especially important to take care regarding the sources you choose to fill your mind.
I was recently reminded of this need to be careful regarding sources of “mind food” after I watched several reruns of a popular drama on television. The storylines for the long-running primetime television series are engaging, the characters are fully formed, and the plots are exciting. The actors experience tremendous highs and lows in every episode, and in between, there is intense drama—often stolen from the latest news stories to provide an added level of reality to the fictional television show.
Empathy Manifests Into Reality
What I discovered was that by putting sadness, pain, and suffering into my brain by watching these reruns, I found myself becoming depressed. My healthy mind became dis-eased. I discovered I had profound empathy for these fictional characters. It reminded me of some television show I saw a long time ago where a woman who lived alone had basically made her daytime television actors her friends. When her favorite character was written out of the series by being killed (on the show) by another actor, she came to the set of the soap opera to settle the score, because it was so real to her.
Fact or Fiction?
Our brains are amazing. However, sometimes when we feed our brain certain data—especially emotionally intense words, sounds, or images—our brains are fooled and unable to discern the difference between reality and fantasy. Since I am such a sensitive person, I have learned to be very careful about the content I watch, listen to, and read. I don’t like watching or reading scary stories because I relive the scenarios repeatedly. I don’t enjoy listening to lyrics of songs that are emotionally painful. I don’t like to read or watch accounts of abuse of any kind, because for me, I feel the words on a visceral level and feel the images as if it is happening to me. Therefore, I primarily read books and watch movies that are lighthearted throughout and music that is either benign or uplifting. I also have to limit my exposure to information regarding current events—especially if the events are violent, tragic, or cause me to have feelings of helplessness.
A Sensitive Person’s Self-Care
The difficulty for me is to balance being present in our world with protecting myself emotionally. It takes too much effort to maintain a healthy mind if I’m constantly counteracting the effects of a diet of awful words, sounds, and images, so I have to limit my exposure. However, I don’t live an insular life. Obviously, I do watch intense dramas on television periodically and read vivid books. However, these activities are like dessert—to be consumed in small amounts—not the main source of data I feed my mind.
How do you take care of yourself?