Five Ways to Help You Get Out of Reality TV (And Back to Reality)

By Philip Karahassan,
updated on Jan 29, 2020

Five Ways to Help You Get Out of Reality TV (And Back to Reality)

Try not to let reality TV affect your sense of wellbeing

Reality TV shows are watched by millions every week. There is a lot of speculation about these types of shows and the impact they can have on the viewer’s sense of wellbeing. People might start to feel that they’re lacking in some way, or that their lives aren’t as glamorous, exciting or thrilling as the lives they see on TV. This can even have an impact on a person’s confidence, self-esteem and overall happiness.

But, it is vitally important that these reality TV shows are seen for what they are: fun, engaging, and a light relief from our busy lives.

There is nothing wrong with TV entertainment, but at what point does reality TV become too real? If you find yourself comparing your life to that of reality stars’ and trying to raise your expectations on how your life “should” be, consider these five tips:

1. Recognise that reality TV is not a true representation of real life

You will only ever see what the producers want you to see and not what is really behind the curtain. You are only seeing a snippet of true reality and you are only seeing reality stars for what they are: contestants. It is in the producer’s interests to show both the best and the worst of people to make a compelling show. Know that what they show you on reality TV isn’t a true representation of life.

2. The contestants are on TV for a reason

Those selected contestants may have been chosen because they are confrontational, loud or opinionated. They have characteristics that conform to what will make good television - and not always what is considered 'normal' behaviour. To expect to be more like them, might, one day, get you on a reality TV show, but won’t lead you to live a happier, more fulfilling life.

3. Don’t let it affect your body image

Just like their behaviour, contestants have been picked because they have the looks that people want to watch. Just because they supposedly have the perfect body shape, doesn’t mean this is correct, or that you are expected to look like them. What is shown is often an unrealistic expectation, and just because they seem well put together, doesn’t mean that they have everything. For example, a contestant may have a six-pack because they don’t have to work from 9-5 and can commit the majority of their time to their image.

4. Notice, connect to, and deal with your own emotions

TV contestants feel happiness, joy and excitement; but also sadness, depression and anxiety. This is all as their perceived ‘idyllic’ lives change before our eyes. It’s not surprising that you, as a spectator, will connect to these emotions and feel the same happiness, and also sadness, that the contestants do.

It is important to connect to your own hard-to-manage or difficult emotions as a way to understand what is going on for you in your own life. Find someone to talk to so that you feel supported when you are touched by those hard-to-deal-with feelings.

5. Appreciate and enjoy your life

You might not have the perceived life of your favourite TV stars, or have the body and fame that goes with appearing on reality TV. But, remember that their lives have been engineered to look perfectly good and perfectly bad at the perfect moments, simply for entertainment and to gain viewership.

So, if you do feel as if your life doesn’t measure up to theirs, ask yourself: What do I think is missing from my life? The irony is that you might feel that these stars have the life of your dreams - but ask yourself, is their life as good as it seems to be? If you were expected to be the centre of attention 24/7, would you really be having fun?

If you find yourself comparing your life to that of reality stars’ and trying to raise your expectations on how your life “should” be, instead try to understand why you feel the way you do. Gaining a realistic expectation of how your life should be will help you come to terms with your feelings.

By Philip Karahassan

Counselling Directory member Philip Karahassan is a London-based counsellor and psychologist. Philip is a member of BACP and a Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.

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