Cutting the Crap from your Life

by Dan on September 11, 2009

As you all know by now, I’m very much into the process of “releasing,” through both the Sedona Method, and the Release Technique.  Starting in late July, I went through this advanced Release Technique home course called “Goals & Resistance.”  It’s a six week course with a lot of exercises you do during the day, and you have a partner that you talk to on the phone every single day to make sure you’re both on track.

It’s very challenging, and my partner had to stop a little less than four weeks into it, which made my last two weeks very difficult to even keep sane, let alone keep up with the coursework.  However, I was a ton more productive and made some big gains in my life.  I got published in a major local magazine, started finally getting paid good money for my writing, and a lot of other “strange” lucky stuff started happening.

My post isn’t about the exercises or the accomplishments though.  It’s about some of the rules the course made me follow, which were difficult, but rewarding at the end.  There were certain restrictions on what I could do for these six weeks.  The first three were given by the course, and the rest of the list I added to get more out of the experience.

The Rules:

No TV
No Movies
No Alcohol (or recreational drugs)
No Instant Messaging (AIM/Yahoo, etc.)
No Music Radio/CD’s/MP3’s
Reduce as much idle websurfing and Facebooking as possible.

If you’re looking at this list and thinking you’d die doing this for a month and a half, you’re not alone.  Even the “no alcohol” rule was enough for friends to say this was ridiculous.  Several people said that they’d die without music.

To be honest, I did bend the rules a little here and there.  I went to two concerts, and during the last couple weeks I didn’t chase away everyone who IMed me on Facebook.  However, the rest of the restrictions were perfectly followed.

The point of these rules is not to test your will power, but cut you off from all your “escapes” from life and the present moment.  When you can’t turn on the TV at home, or the radio in the car, or even IM a buddy, you’re going to be faced with a lot of junk you’ve been suppressing.  It will come out and stare you in the face and you have to deal with it, and eventually let it go.  This is part of the real power of the course.

So now that I’m done with the six weeks, I’m going to share with you my thoughts on the pros and cons of ditching these “escapes,” including my decision on which ones to keep.  It’s been five days since I got all my “privileges” back, so I’ve had time to really evaluate the issue.  When you read this, keep in mind the “Pros” and “Cons” are about the act of cutting them out, not about keeping them.

Cutting out TV/Movies

Pros:

-    Teaches you to enjoy your peaceful moments at home without distraction.
-    Much less boredom in all areas and locations of your life once you’ve lost this dependency.
-    You stop living through fictional characters and create your own adventures in the real world.
-    I’m convinced some shows and movies literally make you stupider, and not watching them is a good thing.

Cons

-    You miss out on some good shows/movies that really do enrich your life and help you grow.
-    When you and a girl or close friend watch the same show, it’s a nice bonding experience to be able to talk about the characters, the plot situations, and your reaction to latest events

From Here on Out:

Sticking to the two or three shows I really do grow from, and letting go of being on the “look out” for new shows to add to my viewing.  For a while, I would find a show that had a lot of critical acclaim, which was in its 4th season or so, and then I’d get the DVD’s and watch multiple episodes a week to catch up.  I’ve discovered some great shows this way, such as Lost, Grey’s Anatomy, and the Office, but at this point I have enough in my queue that there’s no need for me to look beyond those couple shows a week, even if there’s another show everyone’s raving about.  I still reserve the right to start a new show if I feel like it though.

I’ve never been one to watch brain numbing movies, and wasn’t watching a ton before, so the movie area will stay the same.

The biggest change in this is not watching either TV or movies to “pass the time” or have something to do.  I’m only going to watch if it’s something worth spending my very valuable time on.

Cutting out Alcohol

Pros

-    You don’t have that easy short-cut to relaxation at home, or even at the bar.  You have to actively CHOOSE relaxation, and to let your problems go from your head.  You choose peace instead of taking a drug to force your stressed out mind to quiet down for a bit.
-    Less stress overall.  This doesn’t seem to make sense, but it somehow works.
-    Easier to talk to women.
-    When you stick to club soda or soft drinks at bars, you only pay $1 to tip the bartender (if you’re a gentleman).  If you have a friend order for both of you, it’s not expected that he’ll have to tip another dollar for your drink, so often you can have a zero cost night out.

Cons

-    None

Yeah, I have a hard time believing this too, but there really is no Con to cutting out alcohol.  In the past when I was choosing not to drink for one specific night, I felt like a buzz killer when out with my social circle, but these six weeks it was different.  I was in non-drinking mode, so if anyone had a problem with me not drinking, I just said “Hey, I’m just not drinking for a while.”

In fact, several people, mostly women, actually complimented me on not drinking.  I think it’s because they could tell I was choosing not to drink, instead of having a neurotic resistance to alcohol.  And no, I was not a perpetual designated driver.

From Here on Out:

This one’s really difficult because I love a good drink.  I love a cold beer while watching a TV show, and I’m not high brow, so even a Bud Lite is extremely refreshing for me.  I love a frozen margarita or a sea breeze at a restaurant when my folks take me out.

The biggest reason to drink for me is the sheer pleasure of it, but there’s nothing good in having a dependency on a substance for your ecstasy.  It’s also hard to drink weekly without feeling like you HAVE to drink weekly to enjoy yourself.  I’m not setting any rules for myself at this point.  Maybe I’ll set a limit on how many drinks I have a month, or something of that nature.  I could treat it like a 1200 calorie dessert, a treat to have once in a while, but not regularly.

Cutting out Instant Messaging

Pros:

-    Unbelievable increase in productivity.  If you’re an entrepreneur with a non-business IM client open during your work hours, you’re retarded and probably missing out on 80% of your possible revenue.  Download the program RescueTime, and see how much time you spend IMing during the day.  The results may shock you.  If you’re an employee, you may find you might spend literally 40-60% of your day chatting instead of working.

-    Lets you cut out the social contacts you think are your friends, but are really just idle chat partners with no real relationship.  If you have a friend who you IM all the time, but are never on the phone with, try taking a break and see what happens.  Do they call you?  Do they even email?  Several people I used to talk to several times a day on IM, I never heard from again after I deleted my software.  I sent my email out to some of my regular AIM contacts saying I was taking a break from IMing, and it was interesting who followed up with asking how I was doing.  My feelings weren’t hurt when people didn’t get back in touch.  On the contrary, I felt like I had a stronger sense of who I had a real friendship with.

-    Destroys the illusion that you’re actually being social when you’re home alone on your computer.  There’s nothing wrong with chilling by yourself, but once you lose your IM, you are forced to recognize that IMing is not the social connection you thought it was.

-    Gets you out of your house a lot more. When you want to talk to people, whether it’s a Friday afternoon or Wednesday at 2 AM, you will find them.

-    Pushes you out of your comfort zone to ask people for more intimate contact information.  IMing is less invasive than phone, so we end up relying on that communication instead of asking for that person’s number. Let go of the IM, and you have no choice but to go for the real deal.

Cons:

-    None

Let me put this to rest.  You will not have more difficulty planning or hearing about social events if you don’t use IM.  Phone/texting, email, and Facebook takes care of this.  Yes, it’s easier to type “When am I picking you up?” on IM, but it’s not that much more of a hassle to type it in your phone.

You have friends and family that live across the country?  So do I.  If I want to talk to them, I will call.  If they want to talk to me, they can call.  What, your friends aren’t close with you enough to call?  Then find friends that are.  If your friends and family are international, get a Skype account and have a voice to voice conversation with them for free.

One caveat is that you might want to monitor your cell phone minutes, as you’ll find yourself picking up the phone a little more often.  I didn’t have any overage charges the last six weeks, however, so it’s just a precaution.

From Here on Out:

I reinstalled my IM software on Monday, and five days later, I’ve once again uninstalled it from both of my computers.  If someone IMs me on Facebook, I’ll say hi, and I might even IM someone on there I haven’t talked to in a while.  However, I won’t have a program open where a new chat window can open at any moment.  I won’t have the recurring patheticness of looking through my buddylist window seeing if anyone cool signed on so I can kill some more time.  Most of all, I won’t have a perpetual distraction from getting my business and writing goals accomplished.  Once in a while, I might use a web based IM service like Meebo to check in.  However, my dependency on IM is completely obliterated.

Cutting Out Music

Pros

-    Increased peace of mind in all areas and all locations.
-    Greater comfort being alone with no stimulation.  If you don’t need music to be happy, then if your plane is delayed 3 hours, you can rest in the airport in pleasant peace.
-    Losing the temptation to seek out songs that match your mood when you’re angry or upset.  Often when we feel bad, we try to find an artist singing our song.  It can be soothing, or even help get the anger/sadness out of our system, but at the same time, it can push us down deeper, as recording artists can glamorize tragedy and hopelessness.

Cons

-    Missing out on some really beautiful artistic expression and experience.

I should make it clear here that I don’t mean waving a magic wand and having all music disappear from your life.  There’s always going to be music in the clubs, and music in the gym.  You don’t care one way or the other if it’s playing in a public place.  However, not having music in your house when you’re alone, or in your car, is extremely liberating.  I can drive 2 hours to LA in silence and not be bored.  I’m just enjoying the breeze from the air conditioner vents, and the blue skies and trees.

Going to a concert, and being among a mass of fans sharing love and passion, is also a different experience.  A concert is always memorable.  That’s part of the point.  While we all have records we cherish, there’s rarely, if ever, a time where you say, “Yeah four years ago I was listening to Def Leppard’s ‘Pyromania’ while answering emails, and it was amazing.”

I grew up a musician, and I agree music can help you grow.  I just think dependency on it is something we all can afford to let go of.

From Here on Out:

Moderation, moderation, moderation.  I’m probably going to keep my radio off, and listen to self help/spirituality stuff while driving, or just enjoy the silence.  This isn’t boring or painful for me.  It gives me a great sense of being that is as good or better than listening to my favorite bands.  I will sometimes listen to bands I like at home, but not feel like I can’t do my dishes or peddle through a dull task unless I have something playing in the background.

Conclusion

You may notice that I didn’t mention video games or pleasure reading.  I’m not really big into either of those, so they weren’t escapes for me to challenge.  You have your own addictions to think about, I’m sure, so you may want to take the time and reassess how dependent you are on having these things in your life.  I didn’t talk about web-surfing too much, because it’s hard to categorize.  If you’re reading CNN.com, are you doing it to be informed, or are you doing it to pass the time and escape the madness of your mind?  I cut out just about all news media (as 99% of it is irrelevant to my life), as well as entertainment sites like Failblog and Icanhazcheezburger.

A couple of things I mentioned, especially the music part, might sound a little nutty or overly-restrictive to you.  If you haven’t actually tried going some weeks without it, consider giving it a shot.  Steve Pavlina is huge on the 30 day challenges, and now I’m seeing why.  Taking some time off from your addictions, whether it’s food, drug, or activity related, gives you the power to choose whether to keep them in your life or move on to things that suit you better.  If you do choose to keep the activity, it’s out of choice, not necessity.

I should add that the only reason I was able to cut out all this stuff at once was from months and months of steady meditation, releasing, and EFT.  If you don’t know how to deal with the crazy emotions and thoughts that will come into your head, giving yourself extreme limitations can actually be unhealthy.

However, even if you have never meditated in your life, you surely can handle cutting out one or two of these things at a time. Try cutting out just TV/Movies, or just IMing, and see how it goes.  To deal with the withdrawl effects, there is nothing better than Releasing and EFT, but even without them, you’ll be able to cut out one or two addictions at a time no problem.

–Dan

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Belle October 24, 2009 at 2:06 pm

If I could cut out all those things I could probably attain enlightenment in under a month or so lol. Kudos.

2 Belle October 24, 2009 at 8:18 pm

Jk about attaining enlightenment. Seriously though, I don’t know how that’s done, letting go of all those things. I’m sure I would be much ‘lighter’ at the very least if I could accomplish that.

3 Rose February 10, 2010 at 9:53 am

I gave up TV and found whenever I watch it now I feel sad and empty inside afterwards that is if I watch over an hour. Thanks for this post and sharing so well wish everyone could read it.

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