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Self-Care Minder

Exploring Womanhood > Mind, Body & Soul > Self-Care Minder

The Books are Multiplying, Send Help!
by Jennifer Louden

I stand by the bedroom door, warily eyeing the pile of books and magazines by my bed. Has it grown? I believe so. I'm not sure I can even get into the bed anymore. I move closer, pull out a sticky collection of mini-books. Just as I suspected! The books are breeding with the magazines, producing sound bites I will be forced to read.

I quickly back away. That's okay, I'll simply go outside to my studio and get some thinking done there.

What's this? I can't even get the studio door open? There are too many books inside, they're lying against the door, wedging it closed. I sag into a deck chair, defeated. Even if I did get inside, there is always email and voicemail waiting...

Shoot, what was it I wanted to sit down and think about anyway?

I love books, I adore learning, and I HATE the way I've been feeling about these enlightening blessings lately -- a sort of desperation about the tide of information I feel I must process.

Some days, it feels like a gorgeous comfort of excess as in, "Look at all these books/courses/magazines I'll get to read/learn from someday!" Other days, I feel a gripping in my stomach.

I find myself reading (books, emails, documents) too quickly, a voice goading me to go faster, faster.

Taking in, or trying to take in, too much information can hurt. The International Stress Management Association has found information fatigue syndrome can cause:

  • Increased cardiovascular stress and a rise in blood pressure
  • Weakened vision, resulting in nearsightedness
  • Confusion and frustration
  • Short tempers toward others
  • Short-term memory loss

I call it the "forgetful-rude-not living in the moment-heebie jeebies."

I researched this phenomena of information and encountered a familiar litany of facts:

  • A Sunday edition of the New York Times carries more information than the average 19th-century citizen accessed in his entire life
  • In the USA there are ten thousand newspapers and magazines published
  • And more than 100,000 new book titles each year (more than a million world-wide)
  • 60 billion pieces of junk mail and more than 571 spam emails (Enlarge Your Penis)

Yet if I can look at these facts as simply facts, and drop my automatic response of, "Oh my, I should, must, have to keep on top of all this info!" all I can really say is, "There is a lot of information available to us."

It doesn't mean we have to take it all in.

Are we forgetting we can choose?

And if so, why are we forgetting?

I'm forgetting I can choose. I've fallen into a frenetic fever around information because I've been believing the hypnotic stories murmuring through my mind, whispering:

"Everybody is doing it, you should, too. You'll miss something."

"If a little bit is good, more is better."

"If you don't keep up, you'll be left behind."

"How can you be a good mom/writer/creativity coach/speaker/teacher/web site owner/TV show creator if you don't know everything."

"She will think you don't like her if you don't email her back RIGHT NOW."

"If you knew just a little bit more, you would be finally be good enough."

Damn. That last bit makes me want to chew through my tongue. I THOUGHT YOU WERE GONE! Tenacious little shit isn't he, that not good enough refrain.

But I wave my wand. Be gone old stories. You are not based on facts. The facts are simply: there is a lot of information available. I get to choose how much and what information I take in! I refuse to be run by this story of more, more, more is better, better, better. Reinvent, make it new, start the new, new thing. It is a cancer of learning, personal betterment, enslavement by the information mafia.

My new choice: There is a never-ending plethora of delicious information available to me, a sign that the universe is run on an abundant model. I am choosing what I take in and at what pace.

How to make this choice a daily practice? Try:

  • Asking yourself, "What beliefs or stories are running my need to know more, more, more?" and "What is the longing that I believe will be filled by taking this information in?"

  • When faced with an opportunity to ingest a piece of information, ask yourself: "Does this concern me, my family, my business, or my community?" "If so, is this junk food or nourishing fare?" "What action can I take with this information?"

  • Consider if information overload has become a shadow comfort for you. How does taking in more information keep you from what would really strengthen you? How does certain information keep your from living your divine purpose?

  • Regard the TV and newspapers as resources, not have tos or escapes. For example, when I looked at the newspaper this morning, I read in depth 3 articles, all having to do with the possible war with Iraq. Everything else I scanned to see if it affected my family, myself, my clients, or my community's well-being. It didn't. It took me 15 minutes to read that mass of paper.

  • Get rid of magazine subscriptions that you dread or "feel guilty for not keeping on top of."

  • Drop out of your book club or investment club if it isn't serving you or your family.

  • Stop buying books until you have finished the pile you have.

  • Stop reading books just because you bought them: give them to someone who would enjoy them.

  • Unsubscribe from listservs and email newsletters (including this one) unless you are nourished by them.

  • Read Molly Gordon's free e-book The Email Edge for tips on handling the email glut.

  • Head writer and teacher Christina Baldwin's wisdom from her gem of a book, Seven Whispers: "Move at the pace of guidance"

    Declare that information can nurture you and help you thrive; organize your life, protect those you love, serve your community, be a steward of your business and gifts, and connect with Spirit. On your terms, in your time.

Jennifer LoudenJennifer Louden is a best-selling author of The Woman's Comfort Book, The Comfort Queen's Guide to Life and three other titles. You can visit her popular website at ComfortQueen.com where over 600 articles about self-care, an interactive Inner Organizer, and a wonderful CQ store await you. Jennifer also works with a few clients at a time as a life coach.

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