Days 365+102 bad newsWithin the category of Too Much Information there are the subcategories of good news, bad news, and irrelevant news.

GOOD NEWS: Although you would think that there could never be too much good news, even good news can create mental clutter. For example, how many birthdays, anniversaries, and friends’ awards do you need to acknowledge? My own rule of thumb is if they are close relatives or friends, Yes, I try to celebrate with them. If not, I’m happy for them but don’t feel compelled to do anything more.  Click on my TMI-Computers post and scroll down to the SOCIAL MEDIA part for more.

BAD NEWS: This is the primary culprit of TMI since bad news is not only mental clutter, it’s also depressing. There will always be natural disasters, wars, and  tragedies. Some of these are alarms which awaken us to changes that need to be made in our personal lives and in the world. This is “good” bad news, if we can use it that way. But too often bad news is just a repetitive litany of ills that we can’t do anything about – except feel bad. Some options that occur to me are:

  1. Limit exposure to excessive bad news. Although some bad news can be motivating, the news media tend to grab onto a captivating story and keep repeating it without any significant new information. Be selective about the radio/TV/news feeds that you listen to and turn them off when it starts to get repetitive. Sometimes a “News Fast” is required. Turn off all your gadgets, designate a “News Fast Friend” and ask him/her to inform you if a resolution happens or if something requires your direct attention.
  2. Pray the headlines. The secret weapon of spiritual people is that we always have prayer. It may feel inadequate or far removed, but intentionally using the headlines as a prompt for prayer can turn a depressing situation over to someone who can do something about it. It’s a way of letting go and letting God.
  3. Don’t just pray. Do something. As good as prayer is, sometimes the answer to prayer is to do something proactive to address the problem. Make peace with a neighbor if you can’t orchestrate world peace. Send money to a relief agency if you can’t rebuild houses after a hurricane. Sign a petition if you can’t change the government. At least recycle if you can’t singlehandedly prevent climate change. Doing something, no matter how small helps the feeling of helplessness. Joining with others, multiplies your effort.
  4. Force the bad news out. When the above is not enough, try forcing the bad news out of mind and sight by substitution. If feeling depressed, say to yourself something like, “That’s a bummer/terrible/a tragedy.” Sometimes you just have to cry. Then focus on something you are grateful for such as having food, a friend, health, pleasant weather, sleep… If one of these items is your tragedy, keep searching for something to be grateful for. Another substitution is to do some physical work, perhaps a chore you’ve been avoiding. If you’re already a Type A, overcommitted person, perhaps it’s time to take a break and substitute something fun or funny.

IRRELEVANT NEWS – Skip it. Ignore it – unless you need a mindless escape for a short time.

How do you deal with bad news? What has been most helpful?