Interpersonal Edge: Finding news you can use

Dr. Daneen Skube

Photo by Matilda Wormwood/Pexels

By Dr. Daneen Skube

Q: I work hard to stay up-to-date on my industry and global news. The problem is the more news I read, the more I worry. As a mental health expert, how do you advise clients on how to stay informed without being overwhelmed? How do you suggest clients screen news sources to tell the salient from the sensational?

A: I advise clients to realize standard news sources know scary headlines create attention. News outlets have learned consumers believe what they don’t know will hurt them. Wise news seekers have to read headlines to evaluate whether what they’re reading is truly and statistically a  threat.

I recommend you access a broad range of news viewpoints. Pay attention to sources that aren’t American. If you always watch Fox news, tune into CNN. If you always watch CNN, listen to Fox news sometimes. If we only read or listen to people that agree with us, our viewpoints become narrow and rigid.

If you subscribe to systems that collate news, ask questions of what you’re reading. At present, collating news sources could have you worrying you’re doomed to: 1) catch monkey pox, 2) starve from inflation 3) be stung by murderous hornets 4) die in a fiery nuclear confrontation with Russia.

Obviously any of these frightening scenarios could happen. The question is, given what you know, are these problems likely?

Even Doomsday Preppers only prepare for the likely problems, and don’t spend time or money on improbable scenarios.

If you evaluate a frightening headline as likely, like goods and credit costing more, take action. Pay down revolving credit, build up savings, and look for ways to cut costs. Taking steps to put ourselves in a better position to cope with risk is comforting and practical.

If you find yourself obsessing about possibilities you can’t control (like monkey pox) explore science and medical studies. Don’t just gather information from the news. Instead, evaluate your real risk by seeking out scientific and medical experts. Then do everything you can to prepare.

The upside of our interconnected world is we can stay informed about everything everywhere. The downside of our interconnected world is we have to become skilled consumers of data, winnowing out the true and useful from the sensational.

As you become a savvy consumer of news, you’ll learn how to only attend to the news you can use and not the news that would use you to fan the flames of fear!

The last word(s)

Q: Between the pandemic, a bout of unemployment, and now economic challenges on how far my paycheck doesn’t go, I feel like every day brings more suffering. Is there a way to cope with these issues while still maintaining my effectiveness?

A: Yes, as the Dalai Lama, has observed, “Pain can change you, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a bad change. Take that pain and turn it into wisdom.” Use your challenges as opportunities to expand your work and life toolkit.

Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel’s “Workplace Guru” each Monday morning. She’s the author of “Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything” (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr.  Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.