Archive for May 19th, 2008

Dealing with life

Monday, May 19th, 2008

Q: Masters, whenever I feel the least amount of stress I find myself getting involved in some mindless activity. Sometimes it involves a paper-and-pencil activity like Sudoku or crossword puzzles; other times it is a form of computer game; sometimes I even find myself spending hours in front of a television screen with a video game, blowing up things. It is almost as if I can’t help myself once I get started. Can you tell me why I feel such compulsion? What can I do about it?

A: You relate stress with being out of control. When you sense that you have no control of the things around you, you reach out to take control of something, and anything will do. Since you have success with the things that you dive into, such as these games, you retreat to them to be the Man—in control, in charge, not to be messed with!

Part of the reason you need this affirmation of self-importance is to prove to yourself that you are somebody. From an early age you have been told that you will never amount to anything or become anyone important. When you win at a game you are proving the world wrong.

A secondary benefit you derive from the violent games is a sense of getting even for all the injustices done to you. If you acted this way in public you would end up in jail or worse, but on the screen you can retaliate with murder and mayhem without repercussions. You are running away from life’s responsibilities into a fantasy world where you can write the rules while hiding from your feelings.

You can cease this non-productive use of your time by confronting the reason for your feeling of stress and dealing with it at the moment it strikes. Instead of instantly jumping into a fantasy activity, stop and ask yourself exactly what you’re sensing. If it is anger, guilt, worthlessness, or abandonment, go inside yourself to see why the feeling arose. Then decide whether or not you believe it to be valid. If not, discard the thought and get on with your life. If you feel that it is justified, choose to change so it is no longer part of your reality.