Why Ditching My Tv Was an Act of Self-Kindness

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The beginning of 2014 marks five years since I stopped watching TV. In January 2009, I didn't have enough money to renew my TV license (which is like a "TV tax" we have to pay in the UK), so I decided to deregister and officially declare myself TV-less. As the nice folks in the TV licensing department like to conduct stealth checks, this meant I was really ditching my TV, lest I face a hefty fine or even a court date (all in the name of keeping the BBC advert-free...).While ditching my TV might seem like a low-impact decision, it forced me to re-evaluate how I was spending my time, how I was using TV, and how it's such an integral part of our society. I thought my TV diet would be temporary, but the longer I've gone without it, the less I miss or want it.I still watch TV programs online through various services like Netflix, but I'm only watching programs I really enjoy, I have more time to watch interesting and informative material, and, as I describe below, it's no longer an emotional crutch.Here are five ways that ditching my TV has been an act of self-kindness:

1. It's one less numbing factor in my life

During my TV days, I would get home, crash in front of the TV, and numb out. Some people drink, some people eat, some people take drugs, but I think most of us use TV as a way to zone out and escape our cares.While there's absolutely nothing wrong with desiring relaxation or wanting to catch up on our favourite shows, the tipping point occurs when this becomes compulsive. I used to watch the same episodes of the same shows over again (one of my favourite soap operas showed the same episode at lunch time and dinner time—sometimes I would watch both). I would also watch programs that I didn't even like just to watch something, because I'd had a long day and, dammit, I'd earned my TV time.When I stopped watching TV, I realised just how much I had used it to zone out and disconnect from myself, my life, and the world around me. It had become a coping mechanism. Without the default response of plonking down and pressing the power button on the remote, I was able to see just how much this had become a habit that stunted my personal growth.

2. I have more time

According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day.Yet, so many of us complain that we don't have enough time to do the things we really want to do! I know for sure that if I was watching four hours of TV per day, Becoming Who You Are would not have become what it is, nor would I have been able to read, learn, explore and enjoy other activities and hobbies as much as I have done.[Tweet "How we spend our time is a direct reflection of our true values."]I also know that, at the end of my life, I'm going to look back and be a lot happier knowing I've spent my time on projects like this rather than if I looked back and saw years filled with re-runs of 24.

3. I'm comfortable with my own company

One of the reasons I used to watch so much TV was that I found it hard to be in the presence of my own company without distraction. At the time, I wasn't very kind to myself, and no one wants to hear someone criticising and nagging them 24/7, right?Just as finding myself without this distraction helped me see that TV had become a coping mechanism, it also forced me to start paying more attention to why I was finding it so hard to be with myself in silence. This awareness was the foundation for taking my self-kindness up a level.

4. It fits my no-drama policy

One of the biggest changes that comes from ditching my TV is that I no longer have much idea what's happening in the news. Contrary to popular belief, I've found that I don't need to keep abreast of what's happening in the world (not that the news is really an accurate representation of that) to feel happy and whole as a person. In fact, I'm much happier not knowing.I'm connected to enough people who share my values and interests through social media that I trust I'll hear about anything important, and, so far, that's been the case.

5. I'm free of TV-related FOMO (fear of missing out)

So much office and social conversation revolves around TV.While I had a TV, I would feel like I had somehow missed out if everyone else at work or in my social group was discussing a programme that I hadn't seen. Although it was a teeny tiny anxiety, it tapped into deeper fears around not fitting in and being an outsider.After ditching my TV, I found that this solved the problem for me. The benefits of not having a TV far outweighed the anxiety I felt around missing out, and my response of "No, I didn't see XYZ, I don't have a TV" usually generated further conversation that left me feeling more connected than left out.Although this post focuses on TV, really it applies to any lifestyle choice that's a social norm but isn't actually healthy for us. I've found it so helpful to question what I'm spending my time on and why, and I hope that by sharing these benefits, you'll be inspired to engage in a similar inquiry of your own.Have you considered ditching your TV? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.