Media, Mindsets and Muscles: How to Get your Thoughts into Shape - Christine Kane

Years ago, I was on the road and happened to catch a snippet of the news while waiting in an airport.

“…the Washington DC area was plunged into darkness this evening as storms raged…”

Plunged?  Darkness?  Rage?

Quickly I grabbed my phone and called my mom to make sure she was okay.

When she picked up, I said, “Hey! Are you all okay?”

She sounded surprised to hear from me.  “Yes. Why?”

I told her that I had just seen the news.

“Well, the lights went out. So we lit candles.”

In other words, no one plunged.  Nothing fell.  In fact, there was no descent to speak of.

In my mom’s words:  “The lights went out.”

But that’s not news, is it?  Plunging, on the other hand. Now THAT’S news!


It’s no secret that the media hooks us in with subtle twists of language.  After all, if we don’t get hooked, then we don’t need to find out more, do we?  If we don’t need to find out more, then we won’t be watching when the commercials run.

Let’s say the guy on the news tells you:  “It’s all good!”

That just sends you on your way, doesn’t it?

“Phew! Everything’s fine. Back to my day!”

But “plummeting” and “crisis” and “slumps” (oh my). Those get us every time.

Those headlines sell ads.

Here’s some breaking news for you:  The news is not a public service. It’s a business.  As such, it needs you to live your life reactively so you’ll keep watching.


Now, some people choose to look at all these media messages and get outraged. “Look at those media people! They’re just trying to get us!”

But this just keeps you hooked – only it’s from a different angle.  The media watch dog types provide another perspective – but they still remain at the level of the drama.  It’s still reaction.

There’s another way.  You can rise above the negativity completely.  And then choose to see the media and all of its doom and gloom as “resistance training” – actually helping your mental muscle to grow, and training you to get better and better at creating your own reality.

Does this sound a little stupid?

Well, consider something.

Think about your muscles.  Whether you’re a world-class athlete or just someone who works-out to stay in shape, your muscles do not grow or change without meeting resistance.   Resistance training is required for the building of body and muscle strength – even if it’s just the weight of your own body, as in Pilates or Yoga.

So, why would it be any different with creating new thought patterns and better responses to the world around you?

It’s not!

So rather than waiting for the negativity to subside so that you can feel okay about the world, use it as training!  It’s a form of resistance training.  It is helping you become a better creator, a better leader of your own life, and someone who can self-generate happiness and results.  As opposed to being someone who waits for the outside world to tell you that you’re okay, that you’re gonna be okay, and that you are productive, abundant, and peaceful.

Here’s how it works:

1 – You consciously choose the thoughts you want to think and believe.

2 – Every time you hear the news, or find yourself in a conversation with doomers and gloomers, become an athlete. See how your mind and its thoughts hold up to the resistance.

3 – Remember that no one goes into a gym for the first time and bench presses 300 pounds. (Or 100 for that matter!)  It takes practice and awareness.

4 – Congratulate yourself each time you notice that you hold your mental strength and keep your desired perspective. That’s the beginning!

When you get good at this, you’ll see powerful results.  You’ll notice that you instantly see through the drama and the language that used to hook you.

And best of all, you’ll recognize that your thoughts are far more powerful than anything that plummets, descends, or has a crisis outside of them.

  • Kathy

    We have started watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and think she’s a refreshing change from the pummelers. She calls it like it is and points out where the funny stuff is, when mountains are being made out of molehills or when something is being swept under the proverbial rug. We particularly like her “Lame Duck Watch” segment. A news cast that makes me laugh but still highlights important world events is one I stick with. It’s so much better than the rapid fire negative image hooking all the others seem to do.

  • Andy Pels

    I think I have built up the muscle you are talking about because the news doesn’t get to me, EXCEPT I do get bothered thinking that other people watching are sucked in. It’s not that I think I’m smarter than others (well maybe that, too ;)) but when I hear people just repeating the garbage that gets on mainstream media I worry. The I stop worrying, because of course I will not let them get to me!

  • amy

    In the days immediately after 9/11, I turned off all news and only allowed myself to watch 30 minutes of news each day – and only if I was in the gym on the treadmill.

    I wanted to stay informed, yet knew that the fear and rage that the news fanned in my heart was not productive. Hence, the treadmill – I figured that the endorphins from exercise would help counter the adrenaline from the outrage.

  • Anne Libby

    One important thing: the business models for newspaper and network television industries are shifting tectonically due to the internet. The credit crunch is challenging these businesses in a way that a more stable business (say, IBM) is not being challenged.

    Journalists are people like us. (And when it comes to financial journalists, most don’t have MBAs and many have never worked in the industry.)

    So as we read and watch, remember that we’re seeing the projection of people who might feel doubly “in crisis”, because their industry is shifting and the they don’t understand the financial crisis well enough to explain it. (Um, neither do I, which begs a lot of questions, since I have a graduate degree in finance.) Andrea, I’ve also stopped listening to NPR in the mornings. I can’t even believe I’m saying this.

    Shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center, security expert Gavin de Becker wrote about managing our own fear, and our responsibility to manage our relationship with the media. He advises reading the news, and not watching it. I’ve heard that in conversation we get, what, 70% of our information from non-verbal cues? If this is true, it goes to reason that there is more going on in a newscaster’s tone of voice and facial expression than just the “news”. So this makes sense to me — even if the printed news is sensational, it is stripped of some of the emotion, and I can decide whether I believe that a storm was actually “raging”.

    Thanks, Christine. (And also thanks for directing me to Lisa Call via your blog. I got two of Lisa’s small quilt artworks — beautiful, beautiful — for Christmas.)

    Be well, all.

  • Andrea

    My husband just asked me tonight if it would be OK if our bedside alarm started with soft music instead of NPR news. He said he has been feeling it was a bad way to start the day with the current news of wars, economy and politics.
    I was happy to agree. I will show him this post and comments. Nice synchronicity.

  • Peggy Lucas

    Thanks for this – today when I heard something about casey or calee (whatever) back in court… I wondered why we had to hear about one individual who did something terrible – why can’t we hear something wonderful – like my neighbor across the street having a beautiful baby boy… Thanks for confirming – I don’t need news…

  • irene c.

    Thank you for the post.
    I do not watch much tv. I stay away from the news as much as I can. Beside they like to repeat it every hour and my muscle is well pratice which in turn most of the time I do not hear what they talk about.
    I still get hook at times and I learn to change the channel quickly that is the internal one.

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks all! (Mimi, i’m much better now, thanks! and i wrote this post in December – so it’s all good!)

    Remember that the news is now a 24/7 thing. They HAVE to keep generating more news more news more news! So, what they’re doing is CREATING more drama more drama more drama! (Have you noticed that even all the liberals who were SO happy about Obama – have found a constant stream of stuff to complain about him even though he’s not even in office yet?)

  • Keena

    What a brilliant post, Christine!
    It is said that we suffer when we offer resistance to something that we don’t like instead of acceptance. So now we have resistance training for resistance! I love it.
    Negative news (which is all of it, isn’t it?!) is a good, obvious place to start. From there we can apply it to other areas of our lives.
    There’ll be no stopping us!!! 🙂

    Happy New Year to you, Christine!

  • Angelica

    Good one Christine — it made me remember my Mother calling me from Omaha, NE (I lived in Hilo, HI) and sobbing, told me that the city of San Francisco had been destroyed by an earthquake … and my sister was probably dead. I quickly turned on the TV to see pictures of the devastation … and called my sister. She hadn’t answered the phone when Mother called because she had driven down to the one small part of the city to see the damage. Yes, a bridge had collapsed, people were dead or dying, but it wasn’t the whole city!

  • Erin

    Happy New Year, Christine and all readers. This is a good post and so are your earlier ones on “hooking”. I stopped watching the news a few years ago and reading the paper online in an attempt to see the world in a more positive way and generally be happier. We can be so bombarded by all the terrible things that are happening all over the world that you can start to think the world really is a terrible place. Bad news sells! It totally worked and surprisingly, I’m not much less informed than when I was a daily news watcher/online newspaper reader. I decide what I’m interested in and choose what to tune into, and always with a jaundiced eye (or ear).

  • m

    avoiding the news is definately a mental health improver ! And why isn’t it reporting that all my friends with mortgages are now hundreds of pounds better off each month?

  • carolyn

    great thinking! i’ll imagine myself a pole vaulter and the negativity as a new hurdle, and see it all as a game, all for fun. thank you christine! love, carolyn

  • Mindful Mimi

    Hi Christine,
    Shouldn’t you be in bed taking care of your cold?
    I am not a news fan and if I watch/hear it I tend to only half listen (which explains why I have no clue what’s really going on in the world :-). I do not let it take hold of my life or thoughts.
    And in my life I try to be conscious of my thoughts. I try to abstain from instantly judging people when I meet them, from thinking negative thoughts. And since I am not a machine, I try at least to catch myself when I think those thoughts and correct them.
    Here’s to a 2009 full of good thoughts!

  • Martina Wald

    Hi Christine,

    I just want to say Thank you. You are helping me a lot.

  • Tim

    Great post Christine! Between the doom and gloom of the economy on the news and some layoffs that have begun at my company, my training is begining. It is easy to complain and fret about what is going on in these very uncertain times, but it is better to face this stuff and have a good attitude anyway. About a year ago, I wrote a personal manifesto to capture how I wanted to live my life on a daily basis. One of my most important things is to keep a sense of humor no matter what is going on in my life. It is difficult, but you are right – we must build those muscles.