The Entertainment Trap Part 2: Refreshment and Getting Your Gusto Back

By Matt W Sandford, LMHC


In part 1, I discussed the profound impact that entertainment has on our culture today and offered my view on why it has developed such a strong hold over so many of us. I then proposed that there is a line between entertainment being a healthy and energizing resource or becoming an unhealthy and potentially addictive source of avoidance, emotional and relational numbing and spiritual deadness.


So, how do you make your entertainment work for you, bringing refreshment and energy?

1.      The first step is honesty. Evaluate the types of entertainment you gravitate to and their influence on you. Ask yourself why you like the entertainment you do. Does it make you feel connected when in reality you are more disconnected? Does it make you feel important or smart or special? Does it make you forget your troubles? We choose the things we do for a reason, and usually that reason goes deeper than simply, “it’s fun”. The point isn’t to redefine them in terms of good or bad but to understand our motivations. We will not likely transform our choices and behaviors without understanding the motivations behind them.

This is entertainment used to make myself feel good about myself.


2.      Then comes a commitment to make some changes. Rather than trying to quit something “cold turkey” that meets a need you have, look to add something to your life rather than only subtract things. What this means is that when you only try to subtract something you leave a void, and we don’t like voids. You’ll either get miserable, or you’ll go back – and be more entrenched than ever. So, first plan to add something different than another form of entertainment. Maybe join a small group at church, investigate a new opportunity for self development, like taking a class, or how about volunteering your time with kids or a cause? I would guess that most options will involve interaction of some kind with people. And that’s a good thing. You haven’t been avoiding people and relationships, have you?


            This is entertainment being used to fill up my voids and distract from inner pain.


3.      Re-evaluate your beliefs about time. How you use your time is a reflection on what you believe about your own efficacy, and what you believe about yourself. You see, if you blow a good percentage of your time on entertainment, I would wager that either you don’t care about anything or you don’t believe very much in your own ability to make a difference in the world for good.  I’m not suggesting having no entertainment time in one’s schedule, for I am offering the perspective that entertainment can be refreshing and restorative. But this is about a long standing pattern of a high percentage of time invested in entertainment. And I am saying that that type of lifestyle points to a person who is either highly self absorbed and narcissistic or who does not understand their own value and abilities very much. Are you struggling because you don’t believe you have much to offer, and so you shrink back from opportunities? If so, I wonder if you are focusing on the wrong issue – that of your impact – rather than focusing on being faithful to God and having the heart to care. If you are struggling with fear or insecurity, consider investing in some counseling, or check out our website for more resources on these topics.

This is entertainment used to hide from my weaknesses or shrink back from involvement with others.


4.      Then review your heart. Entertainment is by nature highly self focused. What would I enjoy? What am I interested in? Sure, there can be a shared aspect, when you are with someone else or a group – “what do we want to do?” And yet, often, if the individual or group decides on something contrary to what we would like, what do we do? Well, we often go along with it, but with some grousing inside, which diminishes our enjoyment of it. Why? Because we wanted to do what we wanted. What if we were able to shift our focus to enjoyment of the others we are with, or even to enjoy an activity just because someone we love is enjoying it and we are invested in their fulfillment? What I am saying is that it is love that can make our entertainment satisfying and refreshing, when our entertainment is not just for ourselves but involves opening our heart to blessing others. This is one way to free us from the grip of soul sucking, time wasting, addictive entertainment.

This is entertainment used to gratify the selfish part of me and hide from loving others.


5.      Lastly, entertainment can be truly refreshing and energizing when we are walking with God. God has called his people to be the body of Christ in this world, to be his ambassadors, to reach the world with his love and to bring his kingdom, “on earth as it is in heaven”. But, if we are instead focused primarily on submerging or avoiding pain and getting all the enjoyment we can, then we have missed what it means to walk with God and find the abundance of life that Jesus promises. He does want our best. But I think most of us doubt this when things go wrong. And like Abraham did when God’s promise of a son was long in coming, we look to take care of things ourselves; to take care of our emotional selves, to relieve our pain, all on our own. And when we do, we disconnect from the God who is the source of comfort in our pain as well as the source of refreshment and energy and motivation. If you don’t know how to connect with God in such a way, that’s okay. Come to him and tell him that. And then look for people who do know how and be teachable. I bet he’ll bring them around.

This is entertainment that connects us to God and others and gives us energy to faithfully serve and be God’s sons and daughters.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” Ephesians 3:20

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16

So how about you? Does your entertainment make you feel special or gratified, distract you from inner pain, give you an easy out from addressing your weaknesses, or give you excuses to hide from loving others? Maybe you are like me and you have a mix of them all.

I know this will be tough! You have formed a relationship with entertainment and it meets some need of yours. And it may be hard to see how you can be more free, more energized and experience your needs more satisfyingly met by giving up some of your entertainment, or replacing it with a new form of entertainment. But I believe God has your best in mind and wants to be your source of refreshment!

I would be really interested in hearing your feedback.


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