Sanitizing My Life

Sanitizing My Life |

I’ve realized something big:

I’ve been sanitizing my life of anything that “doesn’t make me feel good.”

That instagrammer that is pregnant and I’m not? Unfollow.
The blogger whose tone is suddenly obnoxious to me? Off my blog reader.
The friend whose Facebook posts make me cringe? Let’s turn off those notifications, please.

And just like that, I’m able to eliminate anything unpleasant that comes my way.

And I’ve realized

We live in a world where we can eliminate anything that doesn’t feel good.

Think about it-

It’s bigger than Facebook-

You can turn off your TV if the news starts to horrify you.
You can choose not to read those books about poverty or sex trafficking or orcas at Sea World.
You can scurry past that stinky homeless man.

And while I don’t think this is inherently wrong, I do think constant sanitization of the world could do me harm.

When I constantly sanitize, I’m unprepared for when things that don’t make me feel good (things like cancer, depression, and JUST missing the train) come my way. And when the bad things come (and they DO come) – I become helpless.  When I sanitize, I am unprepared for the messiness of life (things like awkward conversations, unhealthy friendships, and crazy people on the subway) and that just makes things even messier for me.

And I’m thinking this might be a place where some of  my anxiety issues come from. I get anxious because unlike instagram, there is no “unfollow” button when shitty things come my way. There is no off button to life. And at some point,  I must learn to deal.

How do I deal? How can I handle this messy, sad, un-truly-sanitizable world we live in?

I think it might come down between the difference between coping and dealing.

Let me explain.

The way many of us deal with the un-deal-able is through coping. We feel bad, we are unable to avoid it, and so we COPE with our feelings.

When we cope with our feelings we push them aside for another day.

This can look like eating ice cream until you get sick, running on the treadmill until your legs burn, drinking until you can’t think straight, watching TV until your mind goes numb, or scrolling through your phone until you forget.


But dealing (perhaps dealing isn’t the best choice of words, but hey, it’s the best I got)  with your emotions looks like acknowledging them.

It looks like saying to yourself, Wow. I’m sad. Or Woah, that made me angry. It looks like writing out your feelings in a journal or offering up a prayer for protection.

But mostly, dealing with your feelings looks like acknowledgment. It’s as simple as Yes, Sadness, I know you’re there. Hello. I’ll sit with you a while. I won’t smile or Facebook or eat you away. I won’t drink or distract you away. There you are Sadness. Hmmm.

So now I am going to think twice before I sanitize. And when I want to block that chirpy instagrammer with the (seemingly) perfect life, I will hold a moment for my sadness. (Sadness that is no one’s fault, just an honest feeling that comes up in me because of MY life and MY circumstances.) And I will let myself be sad.

But let’s be honest,  I’ll probably still delete them.

What will you do?


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  • Hannah Nicholson

    I love reading your posts, Andrea. Makes me feel like you are not so far away. :) This one I found to be especially true as I was hiding annoying things from my newsfeed today. I’m one who stays away from anti-bacterial products when possible, as I believe they contribute to superbugs and other bad things, and this made me think – is hiding and as you said, “sanitizing” all the bothersome things present in my life more or less the same? Am I not just giving MORE power and MORE strength to those inevitable things and feelings that show up? At the same time, I think that there is SO much in life that can contribute to your unhappiness, and there are things we can control, and things we can’t. So, if I can control something that makes me unhappy and get it the hell out of my life, then I think I will so that I can save my strength for those things/feelings that I will have to deal with, whether I like it or not! Not sure if that’s what you were getting at, but thought I’d put my two cents in :)

    • Andrea Enright

      I really love your perspective. I would agree with you- if we can easily remove something that makes us feel negative, why not?

      And I just had an idea that I hope to expand on one day— It’s not the *removing* I have a problem with— it’s the *removing-without-thinking.* We often sanitize without addressing our CORE feelings. WHY am I upset by this Facebook Friend’s post? Instead of JUST clicking delete, we should address WHY we are upset. (Oh, and I’m sure you agree with this, just clarifying it for myself!)

      Over all, I thinking the deeper issue is that we need to be AMPLIFYING the positive rather than just eliminating the negative.

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