Many years ago, a genius marketer came up with the foam brick. It seems that the news was making so many people angry that they were striking their televisions in frustration. The brick was sold as a solution to the countless televisions that were being broken during the evening news. In fact, foam bricks are still available for purchase on amazon.com. You may find you need to keep a few by your recliner just in case. Even though your anger may not require a foam brick, the news still can have that sort of emotional impact on all of us. There has to be a better way to deal with the non-stop barrage of blurbs, headlines, and breaking news. Below are three steps that you can take to help work through the anger and do something productive.
How To Use The News To Get Involved With Issues You Care About
Step One: Self examination:
Why am I so angry about this particular situation? There are gross injustices and horrible events that take place every day, and we digest those events along with our evening meals. Other news stories involve an athlete, politician or celebrity saying or doing something that is crude, rude and pointless. So we must ask ourselves why we are so angry about this?
This step actually takes some preparation in that you must know what the values are that you really believe in. While you have a neutral emotional moment, while not angry, create a list of the values and character traits that you would be willing to die for. Obviously this takes some thinking ahead, so if you are already upset about something on the news it is too late for this step. Bummer. Time to order those foam bricks! You will simply have to be angry for this round and plan ahead so that when it comes up again you will be ready.
You need to write your deeply-held values down.
Making a list forces you to focus on how your really feel, it hones exactly what it is that you believe. These traits don’t have to be permanent. Later if your values change or you realize that you forgot something you can add to your list. The point is that it is good to examine your heart regularly to see what makes it tick. Creating the list will help you focus your thoughts and help you stay rational. Think of it as training your brain to hold on to what really matters in response to difficult situations. Now that you have your list, and you feel yourself getting worked up over a news story you can throw a foam brick or you can perform a self examination. If you are angry for a violation of those values go on to Step Two.
Anger is said to be a secondary emotion.
If the situation in scrutiny does not violate one of your values, the culprit emotion is likely fear. Political activists on all sides of any issue use fear to manipulate and inspire us to take action. Ask yourself what the whole truth is. Is your fear legitimate? If it seems legitimate, go to Step Two. Examine the fear,and ask, am I being manipulated? Does someone have something to gain from a fearful response? If so, manipulation is likely at work. Run, do not walk away, turn away from all stories related to the situation.
Step Two: Take action:
This news story has violated one or more of the values that you have listed, it is an unjust situation. There might be people involved that you relate with or that you know are effected by the unfolding events. You could gripe and complain. You could create and spread countless memes stating your case. You can create storms on peoples’ links on Facebook. But ask yourself, what lasting effect would that have? The best solution is to take real action.
Take on the cause of your heart.
Advocate, write a letter to your government representatives. You could take action by volunteering, organizing a way to collect needed funds or goods. You could join an existing community group that is currently working on the cause close to your heart. If there is no group, establish one, enlisting friends, family, co-workers to work together on a shared concern. If for some reason you cannot do it yourself, support organizations that can do so on your behalf.
Research the truth of the issue and then find ways to get involved.
Be careful not to jump to solutions; often the problems of our society are complex and require a well-crafted response. Be willing to get to the root of the problem and not only offer a quick fix. Do your research and support only those organizations going for a long-term solution.
Make sure that your actions match your ideas and values. Be careful not to be someone who drives an SUV to a green earth protest of the local oil refinery or be the sort of person who defends prolife by killing people.
Being involved in addressing these issues means you are invested, not just talking about it. Send money, put in time, and share your talent. There is no point expending emotional energy on an issue that you are not willing to invest blood, sweat and tears in! Defuse the anger with purpose!
Step Three: Relax.
Once you have done your part, there is no reason to argue and work to make everyone else agree with you. If you have done what it was in your power to do, you have done well. You can smile as everyone else rants and raves and loses their minds. Your body cannot bear the constant stress of high emotion and anger. You have to find peace. If someone puts up a meme that you agree with, feel free to share a link to whatever organization that you have chosen to support. Nothing more. Relax and remember throughout the process to breathe. Oxygen is your friend.
Sit in a quiet room and simply allow yourself to think. Try to remember what news story made you angry in the past. Unless it was something that was a particular injustice like the planes running into the towers, most likely you won’t remember. Even if you remember, the emotion of that news story is long gone, Realize that six months from now the story you are angry about right now, won’t be remembered either. Relax and surround yourself with positive people and enjoy their company. Sit in the company of friends and regain energy and enjoy life. Our lives are too short to fume and fret. Focus on the things that you are joyful about, on the people that you love and the potential for good that is within you.
Don’t be left with a stack of foam bricks! Use your bricks to build a bridge and get over it. You can control your anger, or it can control you. The choice is yours!