Self-care Starts with Boundaries - My secret for protecting your heart & mind.

Note: Vague spoiler for Warcraft, but you weren’t going to watch that…were you?

My car is a Frankenstein creature from the turn of the millennium, with bits and bobs replacing old parts. There’s an aluminum water bottle that was converted into a coolant reservoir, for example (Don’t worry. My husband’s a professional.). But we also have a touchscreen in the radio slot. The touchscreen operates a computer under the passenger seat. Our head unit is actually in the glove box. Normally there’s a switch in the dash that turns on the computer, however that isn’t presently hooked up. That means we have to crane our hands under the seat to turn on the computer, or we’re stuck with the radio.

I keep the radio off.

I need maintain boundaries with my music. We live in a rural community, so we need to drive nearly an hour to our family and friends. In an hour, I could hear around 15 songs, each one spreading all kinds of messages.

Driving can be a hypnotic experience, and when coupled with a steady stream of who knows what messages, a mind can be shaped all sorts of directions.

Knowing this, I can’t just listen to any song that comes on the radio. That would be irresponsible, and could negatively impact the mental work I’ve been doing.

It’s not just radio, however. I set boundaries for all media I consume. The form doesn’t matter – all that matters is the message.

Encrypted Messages

This week was hot. My husband and I needed to have a date, but many of our options wouldn’t have been enjoyable with the heat (Hiking with the hills on fire in 103F is not a good date.). As such, we decided to go to the movies. This past week was upsetting, for many reasons, so we thought we’d see something predictable, hopefully with a happy ending.

We went to see Warcraft.

While it didn’t disappoint with all the expected tropes, it’s not what I would call a happy ending movie.

It is a war movie and clearly based on a video game. I always watch action movies with my peace education in full gear, but with this, I found myself dissecting messages with more intensity.

It wasn’t a good movie. The writing was predictable. The characters were predictable. We knew more or less what would happen after the first few scenes. I don’t think a lot of people in the US would see it and take any of the messages to heart. On the other hand, it pulled from a library of tropes that are tropes for a reason.

How many times do we need to receive a message before it leaves it’s mark on our hearts?

A Guardian of Hearts

Self-care comes in many forms, but one of them is guarding the heart and mind from negative messages.

To keep my heart and mind safe, I do a few important things:

  1. I practice mindfulness – appreciating what is wonderful in the moment, no matter how small.

  2. I screen media content for positive messages and nurturing focus.

  3. When media content is negative or hurtful in some way, I practice media literacy dissecting the intent in creating the media, seeking its benefit (seen best in posts like this).

  4. I meditate.

  5. I create and share content with positive intent (such as featuring intentional writer interviews).

Even when content has a positive intent, sometimes it can be hard to digest. For example, I just received an author review copy of How Fast Can You Run, by intentional writer Harriet Levin Millan. This book really should be required reading for any class talking about war, as it is a fictionalized narrative of a Sudanese refugee and does incredible work building empathy. I read the first chapter and was blown away by the power of the story – but I also realized with everything going on in my life I could only manage about a chapter a day.

Part of this was related to the time I have in a day, but also because of the weight of the story. I feel things so deeply, I knew there was only so much I could manage without spiraling.

I gave myself boundaries while continuing to wrestle with important issues. By doing this, I am able to broaden my understanding of human experience, build empathy, and maintain continued work for compassion.

The Challenge

This week, I’d like for you to practice some self-care. Set some boundaries and guard your heart.

Take a hard look at the messages impacting your heart and mind. Examine song lyrics. Take a look at your favorite television shows and movies. Are they sending negative messages? Are you practicing media literacy and talking about the intention and messages of the media you consume?

Pay attention to how media makes you feel. When you need to, take a break from negative media. Turn off the radio. Turn off the news. Take a break from social media. Just a little time away will restore and refresh.

Have you taken breaks from the news? Social media? Leave a comment below!

Self-care Starts with Boundaries
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