As previously mentioned in several other posts, I love running. Trail running is one of my all-time favorite things and I would be hard-pressed to think of another activity that brings my brain, lungs, muscles and hip joints so much joy and fresh Pseudotsuga-menziesii (the Latin name for Douglas Fir)-laced air. So when my favorite running shop in Eugene sent out an email invitation for a group trail run, I immediately clicked through.
Although I did end up joining the activity, my feeling of effervescence about joining this activity changed to indignance when I read these words at the end of the post: “Don’t binge on Netflix this weekend, come running instead!”
Oh no. You. Didn’t.
While I support most campaigns to promote healthy activities, as a coach I believe it’s more important to teach people to trust themselves than be given answers about what’s best for them. This is especially important when it comes to listening in and trusting the inner wisdom of their bodies. There are definite benefits to binge-watching; as with most things, I believe moderation is the key to mental and physical health, not extreme restriction.
Coaching: the Practice of Teaching People to Access Inner Wisdom
This belief in the power of human autonomy is why I’m a coach and not a consultant. A coach asks powerful questions to elicit truths and answers in relation to the client-stated agenda. The philosophical principles of coaching are that each person has the answers they are seeking within themselves. Where a consultant provides answers for a client, a coach provides a container for the client to answer these questions from within. When a person can state exactly what they want, they gain deep clarity on what’s most important for the context of their lives at this very moment.
Shaming someone for how they spend their free time may motivate someone in the short-term. 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, nor do I think it’s effective for creating long-term habits change.
I consider myself fortunate (or maybe cursed?) to be internally motivated. I used to have a super mean inner critic who was my sole-source of motivation. She would tell me I’m worthless unless I was being productive. It has taken me years to learn to recognize my harsh inner critic and realize her motives are fear-based. She yells loudly to protect me from failure. The more afraid she is of my failure, the louder she’ll yell in my head.
Archetypes: Useful Tools for Understanding Inner Dilemmas
Through my coach training, the idea of archetypes has shown me that our upbringing and experiences shape our behaviors. I’ve been able to recognize my harsh inner critic and also a wiser, calmer version of me. She is my inner truth. Discernment is her game. She motivates me too, but differently. She’s like an experienced older sister. She’s well-acquainted with my FOMO (fear of missing out) and how that drives some of my decision-making.
My inner truth’s conversations with me around motivation sound something 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 rave so much about. What feels most alive for you today?”
My big sister, my inner truth, is like a coach. She doesn’t coerce or bully 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. I can’t go wrong in my decision making because she reminds me that there’s no right or wrong, good or bad way to spend time.
To Binge or Not to Binge: That Is Your Question
So binge-watch your shows if you so desire. Take a nap. Or do three sports in a day (I love three-sport-days when I have the energy for them!) Whatever your motivation, check-in with yourself and ask: “What am I doing, when, and why?”
I’m not always a proponent of easy-buttons, but sometimes a quick and accessible release to the residual anxiety of life is found by allowing ourselves what we most need. If a weekend of binge-watching is that for you, then by all means, listen in and make it happen.
Are there better ways to find calm? Of course. But I also know there are far more destructive ways people can spend their time. Binge-watching seems relatively innocuous to me compared to other addictive behaviors. Besides, 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 annoyed 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, beauties. And binge as needed.