In today’s media-driven world, emotionally charged messaging inundates lives across the globe. Most of the time, the media and content creators at a high level want you to believe that your happiness depends on something outside yourself. That it depends on what they tell you is happening around you – usually to encourage you to buy something or follow someone of their choosing. They influence your moods to be high through feel-good stories of perfect people achieving impossible feats or through touched-up photography of glamorous celebrities living the life of dreams. They tell you when to feel low through fear-laden stories of violence and hate or stressful coverage of political manipulation and abuses of power. Whether conscious of it or not, the media influences audiences at every turn and controls human emotions via countless devices and platforms every single day.
This manipulative messaging is taking an enormous toll on kids and teens as evidenced by the rise in mental illness and suicide. Instead of listening to their intuition for guidance, many young people allow pop culture to influence their opinions, and the “likes” of others determine their self-worth. As a result, it doesn’t take much to turn their world upside down. A mean comment from a classmate or lack of engagement on their latest social media post can send them into a downward spiral.
The good news? As a parent or caregiver, you can teach your kids that their happiness is not dependent on outside forces. Instead, they can learn center themselves and discover the joy and wisdom within. The first step is to turn off all the messaging. It’s as easy as the click of a button. Then, along with your child, develop and model the following practices so you too can benefit from re-discovering inner peace:
- Take a Deep Breath in Place of Reactivity: Breathing through stress and emotional reactivity is easily learned through constant practice. Each time you or your child become overwhelmed, stop what you’re doing and take a deep, conscious breath. As you breathe in, visualize your breath as light that fills your entire body down to the tips of your toes and up to the top of your head. A simple breath can reduce your stress response significantly.
- Use Gratitude As a Tool for Positivity: Social media serves as a constant reminder of what everyone else has that you don’t. Exotic vacations, fake friends, and perfectly planned selfies tend to fill social media feeds making it difficult for teens to accept what they may perceive as their own dull-in-comparison lives. Gratitude can be a very powerful tool. Every time they are envious or jealous, encourage them to think about something for which to be grateful. It helps to write it down in a gratitude journal. Over time, they won’t have time to think about what others are doing because they’ll be so focused on the wonderment of her own lives.
- Develop a Personal Mantra: Because there is so much toxic messaging via the media, it’s important to drown out the headlines and influence of others via a mantra that is personalized to what you want your life to be. “Be the change you wish to see…” is my constant reminder to be better for myself, my family and the world.
- Become An Instrument of Peace: My favorite prayer is the Prayer of St. Francis. It begins “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love…”. This prayer is a great reminder that every individual has the power to bring peace to the world through their own actions and reactions. Finding inner peace first is critical to achieving world peace.
We seem to have forgotten that humans are born as perfect beings of love. By encouraging kids to turn off the manipulation of media and awaken to the wisdom of intuition, they will discover not only inner peace but also move towards a collective peace in which the entire world can grow and thrive.
About Tela Kayne
Tela Kayne is the president and founder of The Virtue Agency and has spent the last 15 years writing and developing digital content to maximize brand exposure and engagement for clients across the country. She has authored articles that appear on MarketWatch (WSJ), Yahoo! Finance, MNN.com, EWG.org, and HealthyChild.org. She is the author of a new children’s book series about mindfulness – LaLa’s World, where kids learn to be the change. When she’s not writing or promoting brands, she’s busy keeping up with her four daughters and traveling husband—mindfully, of course! Find her on her website, Twitter, or Facebook.