Have you ever caught yourself binging a TV show and noticed the crum-covered blanket crater you’ve created on your couch? Or have you ever told yourself before turning on the TV, “I’ll just watch one or two episodes”? Before you know it, hours have gone by and you’ve accomplished nothing.
We all have a default setting. That thing we turn to when we’re:
- Or feel overwhelmed
TV is a major default for me, and making it to the couch at the end of long day can feel like a small victory.
I am a self-proclaimed recovering perfectionist, and it can be a real challenge for me to stop work and let myself relax. On the other hand, I also know that there are times where I have important things to do that I’d rather NOT do. It’s in those moments of resistance when I start to hear the sweet siren song of the couch calling to me, the remote slips into my hand (seemingly by magic), and before I know it I’m three episodes into a show on Netflix.
So, the real question is, what’s my Netflix binge trying to tell me?
What’s the difference between wanting to relax and unwind, and/or avoiding life’s responsibilities watching 8 episodes of “The Great British Bake Show?”
The answer – The way I FEEL when I do them.
When I’m watching TV by default, I feel a combination of guilt, tension, lethargy, and even though the TV’s on, my mind is still focused on the 1,000 other things I should be doing.
When I’m watching TV as a form of self-care, I’m engaged, uplifted, and connected to the story.
At face value there is NOTHING wrong with watching tv, putting the to-do list aside, or resting. The difference is that when I’m mindlessly binging a show out of default (or sometimes in my case – watching the same show 100 times; Friends, The Office, etc.), odds are, I’m avoiding something else; an important project, a tough conversation, an unpleasant emotion.
A default behavior, like watching TV, offers temporary relief.
The problem is… it’s always temporary.
The next time you find yourself lost in a TV binge, take 30 seconds and ask yourself:
- Am I avoiding something?
- If so, is there anything I can do about it right now?
- If not…carry on! Enjoy your show. Maybe it’s a rainy Sunday afternoon, and you deserve a break.
- If so, is there something small you could do for 10-15 minutes towards addressing what you’re avoiding? (talk to a friend, make a counseling appointment, fold a load of laundry, etc)
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