The other day I was scrolling through my news feed on Facebook and I came across an event invitation for a group trail run.
My feeling of effervescence about possibly joining this activity changed to indignant rage at the end of the post I read the words: “Don’t binge on Netflix this weekend, come running instead!
Oh no. You. Didn’t.
I will binge on Netflix or whatever other pastimes if they so please me, thankyouverymuch. We’re talking about my precious free time and how it gets spent. Since the majority of my time is traded for money by working, I make the rules and decisions about how that free time gets used. So you can go tie your attempts to shame me for the ways I spend my free time to your ankles and go jump in a lake.
While I fully understand the reasons behind encouraging physical fitness and I support campaigns to get more people to engage in healthy activities, I believe it’s more important to teach people to trust themselves to have the answers about what’s best for their bodies, their health, their sanity, and their free time.
This belief in the power of human autonomy is why I’m a life coach and not a consultant. A life coach asks powerful questions to elicit truths and answers in relation to the client-stated agenda. The philosophical belief behind coaching is each person has the answers which they seek within themselves. A consultant provides answers for a client which can also be valuable, but I find that there’s much more truth and resonance in individual realizations attained through life coaching as compared to information being fed to a client via consulting. When a person can state exactly what they want, they gain deep clarity and become efficient versions of themselves, aligned with their most essential values, and fully ready to do what they are here on this Earth to do.
And you know, shaming someone for how they spend their free time might work really well on someone. Some people need and want external motivation in order to take action. Some people work best when they’re told what to do by someone they trust. I want to emphasize: there’s nothing wrong with this approach! It just doesn’t jive with me.
I need no such external motivation. I’m fortunate (or maybe cursed?) to have a Drill Sergeant in my head. She’s in cahoots with the FOMO (fear of missing out) part of me that desires to do and try all the things in life. My Drill Sergeant has her shame game down to a fine art after honing it in years of practice. She tells me: “If you sit down and binge watch, that’s time you could have spent exercising, reading, writing letters or emails, calling your friends and family, learning about marketing, cleaning your house, laundry, grocery shopping, or any other task that would improve your life and connect you to your people. Clearly, you don’t care about being healthy, having a nice home, bettering yourself, or being a good friend or family member, you lazy bitch.”
I told you. She’s harsh.
The good news is her power to motivate me is sharply waning. In my 20s and 30s, I let my Drill Sergeant run the show. I didn’t know any other way to motivate myself to get important things done, like pay rent, do homework, and get to work on time, so I let her tell me I would be unworthy if I didn’t do those things.
Through my own experiences receiving life coaching, nowadays there’s a part of me that’s been speaking up and gaining strength. Let’s call her my Voice of Wisdom. Discernment is her game. She still motivates me but differently. She’s like a kind and experienced older sister. She’s also well-acquainted with my FOMO. Her conversations around motivation look like this: “It looks like we have a lot of ways to spend our free time which are equally effervescent: trail running, binge-watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix, making plans with friends, or maybe we could even try that thing called “taking a nap” that we hear other people talk about. What feels most alive for you today?”
My big sister, my Voice of Wisdom, is like a coach. She doesn’t talk me into anything. She asks me: “What do we want? What would be the best option for us today, right now, in this body and mindset?” She lets me make the best decision for me based on my intuition, my current physical and mental states of being, priority, and desire. We can’t go wrong in our decision making because hooray: there is no right and wrong way to spend one’s free time.
So binge watch your shows if you so desire. Take rest. Do three sports in one day. Just always be asking yourself: “What am I doing, when, and why?”
I don’t know about you, but watching TV provides me with such a quick and accessible release to the residual anxiety of life.
Would meditation be a better way to calm my mind? Perhaps and I do like meditation as a calming tool. But I also know there are far more destructive things I could do with my time to manage my anxiety. Binge watching seems relatively innocuous to me. And there’s so much artistic talent in television these days and supporting creativity is one of my highest values. Studies done by the University of California and Scientific American also support the idea that binge-watching can be healthy in moderation.
Have you ever felt irked by someone trying to shame you for taking a mental and physical break by watching TV? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Breathe and believe (and binge as necessary!)