Interview with Neil Haley
Neil Haley Interviews Author/P
Originally published in Pennsylvania Guide to Good Health.
By Nancy Kennedy
In 2015, we exist in a sea of media. Daily, from dawn to dark, the media is available, primarily through technology in our homes, cars, workplaces and schools. There seems to be no escape from the constant messages that seek to entertain, inform and persuade us. They come to us in a wide variety of ways – from newspapers and magazines to TV shows, radio and the Internet. Although we invite the media in, it often feels overwhelming, and can impact health and well-being. Studies have shown that constant media intake may have consequences to one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
But there is an outlet, and more importantly, a way to effectively take charge of your relationship with the media and make it a healthy one, says popular, nationally renowned psychologist and media expert Nancy Mramor Kajuth, Ph.D. “So much media availability puts a lot of pressure on individuals. There is a feeling of needing to keep up with the latest thing on Facebook or Twitter. Many of us feel a need to be a part of everything that comes our way – sign this petition, join that group, share this video – and it can make you feel anxious. Or, the media can have an almost hypnotic effect; Internet addiction happens when you become glued to your phone or computer, afraid to miss anything.”
What you actually might be missing, Dr. Mramor Kajuth warns, is your own life. It’s more than a matter of spending time watching cat videos – TV, movies and the Internet can change a person’s beliefs and their efforts to meet their personal goals. In essence, the unconscious viewing can change your genuine goals to ones you absorb from media intake. “The media is certainly not a bad thing; it’s wonderful and can do so much for you,” she explains. “You need to be learning, laughing, connecting with others and having adventures, and the media can help you do all of that. But, without even realizing it, you are picking up beliefs from the media. You pick up beliefs which blur your personal beliefs and goals and convince you that something is desirable when it’s not authentic for you.”
Dr. Mramor Kajuth noted in her therapy practice that many of her patients were experiencing frustration and unhappiness in trying to meet goals. “Many people were extremely critical of themselves and their partners. They had unrealistic expectations. I became aware that the source of much of this unhappiness was the messages they were absorbing from viewing media. They were taking on unhealthy beliefs about themselves and their lives that did not mesh with their goals. Their beliefs had been subliminally picked up from TV viewing and they were unaware of this.”
Dr. Mramor Kajuth feels so strongly about the need for people to become conscious of this phenomenon that she has written a book on the subject: “Get Reel: Produce Your Own Life” offers solutions that are educational, fun and effective. Dr. Mramor Kajuth writes about the ways the media shape us and offers strategies to consciously use this to one’s advantage. “We can learn to direct this influence. I help people develop what I call Conscious Living skills – skills that empower you to view the media in ways that support your best interests. Each of you can manage your reactions to the media for yourselves. You have choices. The book gives the reader tools for viewing that actually become tools for living, which then become habits for success. It makes you aware of how the media shapes your thinking while entertaining you, and how you can use the same tools to succeed in life.”
Conscious living, according to Dr. Mramor Kajuth, means being fully awake, aware and in the moment: “It’s a vibrant way of life, true to you, and not based on the influence of the media, family, peers or other influences or the illusions they foster. Many people, especially those who struggle with relationships and body image, are heavily affected by what they see in the media. What TV presents is not real life – if most of us said or did the things the characters say or do on TV, we would create problems. The character’s appearance and lifestyle imposes unrealistic goals which we absorb. We then feel frustrated when we try to create them unconsciously. If you watch TV consciously, you won’t be influenced by it.”
“Reel Life” is the culmination of Dr. Mramor Kajuth’s appreciation of the media and decades of experience as a private practice psychologist, pop culture expert and highly sought media consultant. The book teaches the reader to use Conscious Living skills in order to take in what she needs to support authentic, personal goals that will lead to “real” life – the one each of us is meant to live.