2024 has got to be the year that I break my addiction to watching TV.
I’m embarrassed to even talk about this because I don’t consider myself a TV watcher. I actively distance myself from identifying as such. I pride myself on not owning a TV. But that doesn’t really matter when you have a laptop and you can still watch anything you want on there. And I prefer it that way. I can curl up. Headphones on. No one need know what I’m doing. Private viewing experience. Hidden pleasure. I don’t think of myself as a TV watcher, but today I’m realizing it may actually be my deepest addiction.
I don’t consider myself to have a very addictive personality. I can give things up pretty easily. But TV has been with me my WHOLE LIFE. And I think I don’t realize how deep that relationship goes. How much of a comforting presence it has been for me. How much I use it to dissociate, to distract, to numb, to “feel better.”
My earliest memories are of TV. I remember so many movies and shows from childhood. So much nostalgia.
I remember commercials.
I remember what we had on VHS.
I remember waking up really early in the morning and eating cut up cantaloupe & Honeycomb cereal watching Zoobilee Zoo at my grandma’s house.
My fondest memory of me and my other grandma is watching The Golden Girls together in bed.
I remember watching certain shows as a family, like Star Trek Deep Space Nine, all together in the living room.
I remember the summers where my days were filled with television — soap operas, The Price is Right, talk shows. One after the other nestled in their individual time slots.
I remember mapping out my evenings around the TV Guide schedule. Using it to write out all the shows coming up each night during those primetime hours so I never missed the newest episode of the shows I HAD to keep watching. I HAD to know what was going to happen next.
I remember bringing up a collection of musicals, my favorites, to my mom’s room when she was dying. As a sort of gift to show her that I knew she was still there, in pain, that I still cared. A gift of comfort during a really difficult time when she couldn’t access that herself. It meant a lot to her, I remember.
While she was sick or after she died, I can’t remember which, maybe both…I remember practically living in the basement. I would stay up til 1 or 2am watching movies. They were my escape. They let me not feel anything. They let me have as few waking, conscious hours as possible. I would wake up again around 2pm the next day, grateful the day was already nearing an end.
My relationship with the screen goes way way back. And I think it’s far deeper comfort than I realized. Any time I feel anything negative or uncomfortable, I feel bored, I don’t know what to do in this moment…I can put something on. It’s like magic: instant gratification.
But here’s the kicker. I don’t want to do it.
That’s the thing. If you want to watch TV, if it brings you joy, that’s fantastic. But I don’t want to. It does not bring me joy. When my life used to be ruled by the TV Guide as a kid, it brought me stress. I remember the overwhelm! Sometimes I watch something now and I’ll fast forward 5 seconds by 5 seconds through it. Because I don’t actually give a shit about what I’m watching. That’s insane!
Every single time I finish a series, I no joke go "that’s the last one. There’s nothing else I want to watch. Truly! I do not care to watch anything else. We’re done. I can stop." And yet without fail, I sit down for a meal or a break….well, what else am I going to do? I might as well put something on. I deserve it. I deserve to have pleasure. I deserve to rest. And then I just fall right back into the habit again.
TV takes me away from myself. It takes me away from being mindful. It takes me away from my purpose. It takes me away from the work I wanna do. It takes me away from creating the things that I have dreams of creating. It takes me away from considering others. It takes me away from this wild connection to Spirit I’ve got going on. It stops me in my tracks. It kills my motivation & forward energy. It paralyzes me. It often makes me feel like shit about myself.
The loop of turning to TV perpetuates a cycle of me being so damn hard on myself. I’m super motivated, but I did so much, so I take a break, I get lost in the break cause it feels good, I get stuck and content, I lose my momentum, I feel like shit for not completing what I was so excited to complete. I meltdown. I kick myself for being a failure. Over and over.
This is a sticky, old, deep pattern that needs to be unraveled.
It's a bitch to let go of something so deeply rooted within you. I’ve been aware of this for a loooong tiiiime. I’ve wanted to stop watching TV for a looong tiiime. But you know what I’ve never done? Admitted this to anyone.
You may even be shocked that this is a problem for me. Cause I’m really good at only showing you the successful parts of me. The energetic, motivated, hard working dynamo that comes out when I’m social or leading trips.
This unmotivated, stuck part of me that needs comfort because she’s scared or feeling too much? I don’t want to show you that. I don’t want to admit to you how often I am overwhelmed & scared. I don’t want you to see that the reason I don’t “need” anyone else’s help or support isn’t because I’m good, I’m happy, isn’t because I’ve figured things out. It’s because I am always able to turn away from reality, escape my feelings, distract myself until I’m soothed.
Not only does TV keep me distanced from myself…it keeps me distanced from other people. I don’t rely on others for help. I rely on distractions in isolation to make myself feel better. In the long run, it doesn’t work.
The dread. The insecurity. The unknown. The fear. The hopelessness. The boredom. The discomfort. The not knowing what to do about it all. Those things don’t go away when I watch something. They stay in there. Unexamined. Unacknowledged.
I have to confront these things if I don’t want them to control me anymore.
I have to pause & reset this programmed behavior within me.
I have to learn to turn to myself, to Spirit, to nature, to my friends & family instead of turning to fantasy relationships & false realities.
TV, you gotta go.
This sounds like the easiest & dumbest resolution to me when I have to write this out. It feels like such a small, insignificant commitment, such a tiny sacrifice. Such a stupid thing to struggle with. I feel the privilege oozing out of me right now. But I have to admit that this small commitment opens up my energy, my time, my resources to committing to so. many. other. things. And that’s what’s gonna make the difference. I have more important things to do this year. The world needs me to be more present, mindful, and intentional this year. My comfort isn’t worth it anymore -- people are suffering while I luxuriate.
"When I dare to be powerful, to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid." ----Audre Lorde----
Is there anything you’d like to confess as we enter this new year?
Any secret part of you you’ve been hiding?
Consider choosing as a resolution not something that you want to do, but something you simply must do. What has to go because it's keeping you from moving forward?
2024 is a year of Strength. Inner resources. Owning your gifts & seeing how they can help others. Latent inner power rising. This is the perfect time to get unstuck.
May you commit this year to stop trying to change who you are. Commit instead to unraveling all the beliefs & behaviors & stories that keep you from knowing & adoring yourself deeply.
Lots of love,