by Joseph Reid 03/2022
Will you play a game with me?
Here’s how it works: Every day you start oﬀ with 100 points. The goal is to keep as many points as possible. Every time you pick up your cell phone to do something other than to make a phone call, you lose 1 point. The goal is to reduce the number of times you idly turn to your cell phone for whatever reason, or at the least, to make you aware of how often you do it. Keep track in your journal or challenge a close friend. If you’re part of the Broken People Facebook Community (Click to check it out), keep us updated every day this week. Let us know what your score was at the end of the day.
What’s my beef with cell phones? Welp, for starters, the greater issue I’m concerned with didn’t begin with cell phones, and certainly won’t end with them. This issue I’m trying to draw attention to is something I call Emotional Gravity.
Gravity exists. There’s very little doubt about this. We can’t see it, but we see its aﬀects. It is a neutral force that humans have been able to use to our advantage because it’s fairly consistent and measurable. Gravity isn’t the same everywhere on earth, because the earth isn’t perfectly round. There is less gravity in places like the equator and mountains due to centrifugal force and the distance from the earth’s core, but on the whole, gravity is pretty consistent.
It is because of its reliability that you and I have learned to operate within the boundaries of gravity for simple pleasures like playing a game of basketball, golf, cooking, and how we travel. Gravity also aﬀects how we digest food, shower, and do our hair.
What is gravity? Gravity is “the force that attracts a body toward the center of the earth, or toward any other physical body having mass (dictionary.com).” Emotional gravity is just as real and just as helpful to understand as physical gravity. In the case of physical gravity, it’s helpful to know that if you jump from a certain height, you will fall. And depending on that height, you may need something to either counter the gravity or impede gravity to avoid injury.
We tend to be careful when walking near cliﬀs or on tiny ledges to avoid falling. With emotional gravity, it’s just as helpful to observe your surroundings and potential hazards. Think about how you’re feeling while you read this article. Does the place where you aﬀect how you feel and receive this information? Have you ever started oﬀ your day waking up late, not having time for breakfast or to make a healthy lunch? How many of you feel an emotional pull toward the nearest McDonald’s or Burger King (but those french toast sticks, though!)? When you’re trying to think, to do some deeper inner work, do you ever ﬁnd that the proximity of your cell phone is terribly distracting? Try moving your it to another room and see what happens.
Understanding and respecting the power that certain people, places, and things have in our lives is helpful. What is the result of their presence? Much of it is probably positive. I had lunch with my daughter today. She wanted a salad. I felt an emotional pull to get a salad, also. This was one example of the positive aﬀects of emotional gravity. Do you have a friend that usually leaves you feeling uplifted and excited? Or, maybe you have a friend where the opposite is true?
Be aware of the emotional forces in your life. Think about how they aﬀect your mood/standard of living and then adjusts your proximity to them accordingly. In some cases, there is nothing you can immediately do to remove yourself from the emotional forces around you. But that doesn’t mean you are without options. There are always things you can do to be able to address the emotional gravitational pull of other stuﬀ in your life. It just requires a bit of planning, creativity, and/or foresight. Got a person at work that is constantly talking about people behind their back or complaining about the work environment? What are some of your options? Can you make your own game up, keeping track of how many times this person complains about something. Keep a log. And if they reach a certain level of complaining, maybe you could award them with a ﬂower, card, or small gift to brighten up their day.
It may be easier to see the aﬀects of emotional gravity on someone else. I’m convinced that is the case because it’s easier to spot the forces of emotional gravity from a distance. Have you ever noticed the change in a friend or coworker when they are around certain people or places? Parents can easily spot the change in their children when they’re hanging out with diﬀerent groups of people. It’s very possible that you may observe a behavior that is inﬂuenced by emotional gravity, but not know from whence that gravity came. Despite not knowing the force’s origin, you can begin to make subtle or large changes to begin to reduce its aﬀects.
Gravity is only measurable because it aﬀects other things. Unlike physical gravity, emotional gravity isn’t necessary aﬀected in a consistent way. The aﬀect of the gravitational pull isn’t determined by the mass of the thing exerting the force itself as much as by the reaction to the stimulus. It’s very possible, for example, to be around a “bad inﬂuence” and still have a positive outcome and vice-versa. So, please pay attention to the things you let into you life. Everything has emotional gravity. Pay attention to where you are being pulled. Pay attention to the things in your life that may exert a larger level of force. You can usually tell what those things are by taking a look around. What are people doing? Then ask, am I doing it too? and, What is the result?
This applies in politics, religions and food. …you name it. Everything has a gravitational pull. If you can see it, taste it, feel it, smell it, or hear it, if it connects to anyone one of your senses, it has an emotional gravitational force. Reﬂect on your life and pay attention to the fact that you, too, have your own gravity. Consider what you may be pulling others around you toward or pushing them away from.
So…will you play this game with me? Limit your exposure to the gravitational pull of anything, but particularly the cell phone. Keep track. Have some fun with it.
Founder & Executive Director | Broken People