Not Your Reality

Not Your RealitySinger Tyrese Gibson recently went on a rant about how the media portrays relationships. Especially so-called reality TV shows.

“You find yourself arguing and having issues at your house and in your marriage and in your family that are directly influenced from the sh*t that you’re seeing on TV. You don’t even know it.”

Granted, Tyrese may not be the ideal relationship coach, but he actually makes a good point. Reality TV should not be your reality. You need to focus on something more positive.

Reality TV is nothing if not negative. After all, the ‘human drama’ of reality TV tends to zero in on those times when things go poorly. Epic fights and door-slamming arguments crank up the ratings. Sadly, it seems watching others mismanage their relationships is what keeps us tuned in.

Gibson argues that the cumulative effect of all that negativity is that it seeps into our lives. Before long, all that bad juju starts to impact how you think about your man. You can’t feed on a diet of cynicism and expect to stay positive! Eventually, it’ll get to you.

And it’s not just reality TV. There’s negative stuff about relationships in just about every form of media.

This is why you really need to remove some of that negativity from your life and replace it with something more uplifting.

I know it sounds like something from an after school special, but the truth is that the more you expose yourself to negativity, the more negative you’ll become. Thankfully, the inverse is also true. If you want to be a more positive person, immerse yourself in positive things.

No one’s asking you to be giddy all the time. That’s just not possible. However, there’s a lot of wisdom in taking stock of the things you expose yourself to. Do you spend hours watching reality TV each week? Reading celebrity gossip? Eating up online articles that trash one famous person after another?

You don’t have to stop. But as your relationship coach it’s my job to point out how you might be better off without that stuff in your life.

Instead, find ways to feed yourself a steady diet of more positive stuff. You might not even have to look far. Something as simple as asking your guy if anything good happened today could do the trick. Or spend a few moments thinking about your own day and find a few things to be thankful for. The practice of intentionally rerouting your thoughts toward upbeat things will have a huge impact on you. And on your relationships.

Tyrese put it this way: “We should highlight love and beauty and things that are working versus just being so focused on the things that aren’t working.”

Make it a point to focus on the positive, especially in the next few days. It won’t take long for you to feel the effects. You, and your man, will be happier for it.


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16 thoughts on “Not Your Reality

  1. Nancy said:

    AMEN, coach! Say it again. Amen!

  2. Colleen said:

    Well done on a good job Coach! Reality TV is not the only drama travesty however, sometimes when we vent to a friend or family member, their negativity or lack of understanding can fuel a minor situation to Mt Everest. And when one is already a little indecisive or insecure, well need I say more? I’ve stopped speaking to friends completely around relationships, unless it’s a positive. Very hard lesson learnt! Carry on the work James Thank You!

  3. Judith Lee said:

    Most of television is negative. I haven’t watched tv in years because I don’t want to expose myself to the sex, murder, yelling, and darkness that spews out of the box. I truly agree with you that tv has made a mess of our society and global society, that we unconsciously absorb that which moves, talks, and is in color. our minds can’t tell the difference between reality and that kind of fiction. I love your honest and clear discourses. You are precious in a negative and crazy world.

    • James Bauer said:

      Thanks, Judith. I really appreciate that.

  4. Rachel said:

    Hi James, i work in domestic violence and i worry that all of the negativity surrounding men as perpetrators in this role will effect my thinking. I question this constantly. Do you think being aware of it is enough or is this inevitable. I would hate to think my view of men will gear towards distaste and lack of trust. Thanks, Rachel 🙂

    • James Bauer said:

      I see what you mean, Rachel. You almost need a support group of other women who work in your field. Spending time around healthy men and healthy couples will be important, but awareness of the tendency to gradually become biased through repeated experiences with pathological abusers is certainly something you want to keep in mind.

      I think the key is to build in an automatic double-check habit where you allow any red flag/caution reactions to immediately trigger a thought like, “Did I actually perceive a risk factor or am I being hypervigilant because of what I am constantly exposed to?”

      Fortunately, you are least likely of all women to find yourself in an abusive relationship, because you are aware of the red flags and you would never allow yourself to remain in a relationship that involves repeated abuse. Knowing that might help you relax into interactions with men that feel right.

  5. Angela said:

    Hi James, I totally agree that Reality TV shows should not be our source for facing real life challenges and yes we should channel our time and effort in reading a good book and reading articles like these to enhance our relationships in the home.

  6. HardyMarbles said:

    What if your guy never finds anything positive to tell you about work? I’m always pointing out to him what happened that was good. I’m not sure it’s a good idea that I fill in the “good” about his day, or is it?

    • James Bauer said:

      Usually not. He will quickly become polarized, telling you why the good things you point out are actually not good…and arguing the point that his day was lousy. Don’t reinforce it by arguing the positive side of things or else this will just keep the pattern going strong. He is likely looking for something from you (like sympathy). When you find yourself trying to help in this way, ask yourself, why is he pulling for this side of me to come out in our interactions? What does he get out of it? Sympathy? Admiration for his hard, painful work? Or something even deeper related to his personality.

      • karena said:

        doesn’t help if he’s a negative person. what does she do for herself or, if anything, for him?

        i generally try to avoid negative people so they don’t drag me down into it, but if you live with a negative person you can’t do that. i have that problem with my father, i can’t avoid him – as I used to before my mother died, limiting my visits in time and frequency – and luckily i don’t live with him, but it’s tough going, having to bring myself back up after each visit (which i unfortunately dread, and have now limited to once a month). i got to the point of just telling him i was tired of his complaining, as ignoring him wasn’t working either, but then he sulks or we have an argument. i will not play into his negativity nor will i try to build him up – he’s a big boy, he needs to do that for himself.

        i also try to refrain from being around people i like a lot, including a guy i’m interested in, when i’m in one of those processes of bringing myself back up after a “negativity weekend”, so i don’t come across as a drag. makes life exhausting and complicated.

  7. m said:

    wise words from a wise man

  8. Jenny said:

    “Reality” TV?? Don’t viewers realise that it’s anything but “real”? The situations are deliberately set up to be disputatious. The producers pick the participants precisey because they’re likely to quarrel, dislike one another and cause trouble. That’s what makes for good viewing figures.
    Soap operas? Again, tensions and disputes make for a good story. It’s fiction, folks! It’s the stuff of drama and always has been. A story with no suspense, mystery or surprise would not attract many fans.
    I avoid watching these shows because they’re just depressing – except for costume dramas, I have to admit. Downton Abbey and dramas about the Tudors are irresistible to me, but I know they’re really just tarted up soap operas!
    Thanks for your wise advice.

  9. sara said:

    Very good point James! Watching reality shows is indeed not only waste of time, but also dangerous for own relationship because of all those negativity, bad drama and non-realistic presentation of relationships. Similar like porns- they influence a lot our idea of how sex has to be, although sex in porns is far away from what specially we women desire. But people are obviously having the tendecy to consum negative and unrealistic stuff like that.
    I made following experience many times- when I focus on the positive features of my boyfriend and thanking for them and telling him how I love this an that on him, he gives much more effort to make me happy and to be a “good guy”. If I point on some of his quirks or not so pleasant traits of him, I start to feel more and more unsatisfied and he acts exactly in this expected negative way. But if I see him as a man who is doing his best to be a good partner and a person and who is having many loveable features, we both are much more happy and positive. Very simple.
    He once said to me- “how are you doing that? You always see so many good things in me, although I’m such an imperfect guy. But the way you think about me is making me more eager to try to earn your high opinion about me.”

  10. Dee said:

    So true. I have been so much happier since I stopped watching TV and spending time reading Facebook posts and started focussing my attention on finding new and interesting things to do.

  11. CG said:

    I always find watching “60 Minutes” to be uplifting. There is always at least one piece about people, real people, doing wonderful, heroic, inspirational things. It renews my faith in people and makes me look at life from a higher ground. But maybe a lot of people like reality shows because it makes them think their own lives don’t suck as much as other people’s do!

  12. June said:

    Hi James
    Thanks for that advice. Reality TV is never been something I watch because, it is just so dramatic. I like the advice of immersing your self each day in positivit. I am going through a rough patch in my relationship but will try this suggestion.
    Thank you for the great advice always. I truly enjoy reading your articles.

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