A call for equal airtime
I would like to propose equal airtime be given to all the things that are going on in our lives. This isn’t about politics or vaccines. This is about the movie reel that is the story of our day to day lives.
It’s like when we watch the news (ok- full disclosure, I never watch the news). The first 55 minutes is about tragedy, political discord or mudslinging, scandal, catastrophic weather and all sorts of things that don’t leave us feeling like sunshine and daisies. The last 5 minutes is dedicated to some humanitarian story or something similarly uplifting.
Now before you start defending the need “to be in the know”, to be “informed”, I am not proposing that we bury our heads in the sand. Really, this isn’t about the news at all. It is about our own personal experiences in our individual lives and what happens when we apply this same news format to our daily activities.
Let me explain.
It’s natural that we gravitate towards the negative, to what isn’t right, or good, or what we had hoped for. Life has a lot of that. But what would happen if we gave equal airtime to the things that are going well? What if we changed the 55min/5min ratio to a 30min/30min ratio?
Would it make the negative stuff any less true? Of course not. But do we want to live our lives with this unequal experience? Do we even realize we are contributing to it by how we think and talk and act?
While this may sound judgy and harsh, it’s neither of those, it just is the way it is. And actually, it is really good news. We can still hold on to our tragedies AND have a better experience overall. It is totally in our control.
I’m not lobbying to change your negative thoughts to positive ones (although you can if you want to, it’s another path to the same endpoint), but rather to just give equal airtime to the things that are going right.
Here are some examples of what this has looked like for me in the last 6 months.
I often talk about how I haven’t lost all the weight I wanted to… but do I spend equal time talking about how I successfully did a 6 week Alcohol free experiment in the spring or how I have managed to not judge myself during this time? (Both huge wins by the way)
I haven’t continued with my regular business webinars as I had planned because life got busy. It's easy to talk about the disappointment of not following through on a goal I had set…but I have completed a 6 month mastermind with other healthcare professionals with coaching businesses and met some amazing women in the process. Somehow this doesn't make it into my mental dialogue as frequently.
Maybe there are times that it is tempting to complain about coworkers or schedules (maybe it’s even merited) but how often do we spend an equal amount of time talking about all the patients we helped in a day?
And the truth is, the equal airtime doesn’t even have to be opposite ends of the same issue like the examples above. It can really be as easy as being aware of where we are focusing and then taking the same amount of time to focus on something good.
Maybe for every 10 minutes spent worrying about all the errands that need to be done after work, 10 minutes can be spent thinking about an upcoming vacation, or even a past vacation.
Maybe for every 10 minutes spent on ruminating on how you are going to pay all your bills you spend 10 minutes thinking about how great it is that the kids are healthy, or that you didn’t break any bones when you fell down your garage steps holding a huge box of books (I am really happy about that one.)
Maybe for every tragic story that you read on facebook and then talk about with your friends you also spend 10 minutes talking about their favorite restaurants, or vacations, or movies. It really can be as easy as that.
With a little bit of self-awareness, we can even out the playing field. While it’s certainly true that talking through negative experiences can lead to healing and change, it is also true that talking about good things, about uplifting or happy things, has no down side at all.
What does your attention ratio look like?
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