Reading Your Way to Anxiety

By
Judith Joy

I love reading. When I consider buying a fiction book, I typically read the first page. If it pulls me in, there is a good chance I’ll keep reading. However, if it’s written in the first-person point of view, I will put it back on the shelf.

This latest trend in fiction writing is to use first person (I) for the point of view of the character instead of third person (he, she, they). The author is trying to create a deeper connection between the character and the reader. The reader is reading to have an emotional response of some type. However, there is a downside, and it can be very damaging. Here’s why.

We are all programmed by the ideas that we take in and this is reinforced by the number of repetitions, the emotions involved, or the motions taken. What this means is that it is more than just an idea or connection.

If while reading a book, the character is referred to as “he or she,” then we can distance ourselves from this character. A sympathetic reader may take on the emotions of the character, but there is a fighting chance not to do so. However, when the author uses “I,” the reader’s subconscious (which by the way, rules the roost and thinks that it is helping you to survive) takes in the information as if it applies to him or her.

When the idea has lots of repetition, we begin to think it’s true. After all, we’ve heard it over and over and each time it becomes a bit more familiar.

It doesn’t matter if you do it consciously such as with affirmations or subconsciously such as by reading “I” over and over while reading a book. With affirmations people are purposely programming themselves. “I am strong. I am smart. I am successful.” The “I am...” tells the subconscious and the Universe this is who I choose to be.

The author is doing the same thing by programming the reader to BE the character and adopt that character’s thoughts and feelings to have a deeper connection with that character. This is all great to “hook” the reader, but not so great for the reader.

Now, layer in the emotion. If your emotional reaction to the statement (whether it’s an affirmation or a character’s point of view) is different than what the statement actually is, then the emotion wins. For example, if you say, “I am healthy” and your emotions feel weak, scared, and defeated, then the thoughts and feelings are pulling in opposite directions. The feelings will direct the body.

Think about the characters in a book. They also have emotions. In fact, a book wouldn’t be “good” if there weren’t emotions and something to overcome. The story would be pretty boring if everything was hunky dory all the way through. The question is, “Are the emotions presented (and being absorbed by you), the emotions that you choose to have?”

Finally, add in the motion. You may say there isn’t any motion involved that you are only reading. I beg to differ. Your eyes are moving back and forth for 30 or more lines per page (depending on the size of the book) and for each page of the book. For a 200 page book, that is about 6,000 repetitions. On top of that, you are either tapping (with an electronic book) or turning the page (with a regular book). This can be interpreted as “more please” as you more forward through the book.

So, let’s look at what is happening when a character is identified as “I.” You are reading along and enjoying the story. And at the same time, your subconscious is identifying with the character and adopting the character’s point of view through repetition, emotion, and motion. You are slowly being programmed.

I’m sure this wasn’t the intention of the author, who just wanted to create a compelling story and get you to connect with the character. However, since you are taking in the information and reinforcing it with repetition, emotion and motion, your subconscious sucks it in and starts adapting your behavior. Have you ever noticed that if the character is having sex, you are more likely to also be aroused?

By the end of the book, you are programmed to think and feel as if you are that character. And if the programming is counter to who you truly are, you will be more likely to feel anxious. The question is, “If you could choose what you think and feel (which you can), would you choose to think and feel that?”

As much as I love reading, I draw the line at first person fictional stories. Some of these authors are so good. However, I don’t want to be drawn into a drama that has nothing to do with me. I choose to be high vibe and that means pretty much drama free.

Don’t stop reading though. With reading you are able to create the movie in your mind. This means that you are able to control what you “see” and feel. Whereas with a movie or video, the visual picture is simply downloaded into you, and you have much less control.

The ideal place to be is being able to feel what the characters are feeling, observe that you have a feeling, and then notice that the feeling isn’t yours. Feel without becoming.

The solution? Be aware. Know that what you feel may not be yours. Consciously choose what you would like to input into your experiences. You get to choose the "I am....." for your life.   After all, you are the one living your life.

When people feel stuck, I help them get unstuck.

MEET JUDITH

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