Much has changed in the news over the past couple of decades. The old days of reporting facts: Who, What, Where, Why, and When have changed. Facts are still reported but are buried in the narrative. You can form an entirely different opinion based on the convincing reporting of different political sides. This has caused a divide based on the fear that our country is falling apart. Both sides (Democrats and Republicans) are blamed for being evil. Addiction thrives on fear. It can’t live without it.
As documented in early American history, politics has always had a dark side, and there’s always been a political divide. With improved media, we’re just more aware. With the expansion of government, there are more opportunities for corruption. It’s only natural to have reactions to injustice, especially if our country’s well-being is at stake. But if we want to stay mentally healthy, we must not fall victim to imaginary fears stoked by drama instead of facts. If something is missing in your life, you might be getting a charge from excessive exposure to politics.
When Nancy and Fred wake up, they tune in to their favorite news stations and stay tuned throughout the day and night. They can’t watch much else unless it’s something that has to do with politics. If they miss an essential report, they’re upset. If someone disagrees with their viewpoints, they think the person is ignorant or uninformed. Their children refuse to come over because they can’t believe their parents voted for a candidate they hate.
It’s one thing to be passionate about something and another to be addicted.
Almost anything can be addictive. If you continue to engage in a behavior that causes negative consequences, chances are, you might have become addicted.
Here are three signs of political addiction and what you can do about it:
- You binge-watch – You live to watch the news, and if you can’t, you get upset. Just like any addiction, you find yourself living for it. You eat, drink, breathe, and sleep the news. You tune in regardless of whether it makes you late, depressed, angry, or scared. No matter what the negative consequences are, you can’t stop watching it. If someone doesn’t want to discuss politics, you’re bored.
Solution: Treat it like a reality show. Recognize that the news stations are keeping us intrigued and entertained. Why? It keeps the ratings up. Instead of watching the news, watch something that makes you feel good. Or get out and do something fun. Engage in a hobby you’ve always wanted and never had time for. Limit political discussion to five or ten minutes.
- You feel obsessed with what you hear. You can’t get it out of your mind. It affects your happiness and peace of mind.
Solution: Don’t believe everything you hear. Factcheck: If your source is the internet, don’t just rely on the top headlines. Dig deep. Make a point of listening to different radio and television stations. Yes, listening to things you don’t want to hear is uncomfortable. But how else will you learn?
Also, when you get upset, ask yourself, “Is this true?” Also, look around you. Is any of this affecting you right now? Stay in the real, not the imaginary.
- It causes personal problems with family, friends, and work. There’s volatility and separation because every person is convinced they’re right.
Solution: There’s nothing more wrong than making someone else wrong for their thoughts and feelings, even when they are wrong. If there is a conspiracy to bring the country down, this behavior falls right into it by separating families and loved ones. Rise Above. Learn to be comfortable with lively and passionate conversations. If you feel upset, try taking a deeper look within and get to the root of what’s underneath the injustice you feel. Then you can heal it and remain neutral when discussing hot topics.
We can’t change the world; we can only change ourselves. Be informed but refuse to fall victim to being obsessed. If you’re concerned about a political issue, let your ballot be your voice and get involved in a cause instead of complaining or remaining apathetic. But maintain balance and perspective. When we allow outside forces to affect our serenity and relationships, it’s time out. Nothing is more important than love – for yourself and others. As long as there’s real love, there’s no room for addiction. Nothing is worth robbing your peace of mind.
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Dr. Donna Marks has been an author, consultant, public speaker, and psychotherapist for over thirty years. She was licensed as a Mental Health Counselor in 1987 and then certified in Addiction, Gestalt Therapy, Hypnosis, Sex Therapy, and Psychoanalysis. She currently has a concierge psychotherapy practice in Palm Beach, Florida.
She has appeared on numerous podcasts and local television. She is the author of two books, Learn Grow Forgive – A Path to Spiritual Success, and Exit the Maze: One Addiction, One Cause, One Solution (revised), and winner of multiple book awards. Her next book, The Healing Moment: Seven Keys to Turn Messes into Miracles, will be released in 2023.
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