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We live in a time of information overload. We can access any bit of information within a matter of seconds.
We’ve become accustomed to hearing negative and disturbing news.
Most people fill their free time with senseless entertainment.
You become the content you consume and that is really powerful.
You become the people you talk to, the TV you watch, the music you listen to, the video games you play, and the things you read.
If you want to become the best version of yourself and reach your full potential, you need to become aware of what you feed your mind.
Let’s break this down:
The most common source of negative content is the news.
I’m not blaming the news channels, because we choose to watch it. However, these sources exaggerate reality and focus on the bad things. Simply because that brings in the views.
Our brains are also more drawn to negativity, so we want to read or watch the latest breaking story.
However, how much of this content do you allow to manipulate you?
Not only does this content leave you feeling negative, by sparking sadness or anger, but it can lead to false understandings or fears.
I’m not saying bad things don’t happen, but by watching news channels report about horrible story after horrible story, we tend to believe things are worse than they are.
It’s important to be aware of things going on and to be cautious in life, but allowing yourself to constantly receive this sort of information can be detrimental to your mental health.
Negative content isn’t just in the news either, what was the last movie or show you watched?
We watch scary movies that increase our heart rates and disturbing documentaries about serial killers (myself included).
This content can trigger anxiety or prolonged negative emotions.
Last year, I watched a series that really triggered me. It was a great show, but it left me feeling uneasy for weeks. The soundtrack and the content of the show stuck with me as if I had experienced the situation myself. This was the first time I felt that, but I didn’t like that feeling.
As a society we have also become desensitized to this type of content. These shows and films have extremely disturbing scenarios that we tend to just brush off or even laugh about.
I’m not saying to never watch scary/negative content again, because obviously we enjoy it, just be aware of how much of it you choose to absorb. It can affect you.
Entertaining, but mindless content
I can’t believe how many hours I wasted in high school and college watching pointless reality TV.
I never missed an episode of Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, or Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
I literally never watch TV now and I’m so glad I don’t.
While this content is entertaining and funny and sometimes serves as a little mind “break,” they literally offer no value to you.
They are designed to keep you watching and they’re honestly mind-numbing.
Now, in addition to TV, there is YouTube. Which is filled with more “influencers” that offer no value aside from entertainment.
This type of content often glorifies intoxication, poor choices, violence, abuse, and unhealthy relationships.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t care to see any of that.
When I was younger, I was drawn into the drama and the lives of these strangers. It was comforting to watch.
Now, I can’t even stand them.
Music is another culprit of negative and/or mindless content.
I don’t know about you, but music has a HUGE effect on my emotional state.
When I listen to sad songs, I feel sad and think sad thoughts.
Same goes for music that expresses anger.
While music serves as happiness for a lot of people, it often just acts as filler.
If you are doing something that doesn’t require mental focus (driving, busy work, cooking), I suggest using that time to listen to something of value instead.
As I mentioned above, information is endless.
No matter what type of content you’re consuming, you can over-consume.
Reading dozens of articles on personal development or listening to hundreds of educational podcasts may be better than the content mentioned earlier, but too much can still be a problem.
The problem with consuming too much positive or educational information, is that you are still exposing yourself to over simulation.
Are your thoughts even your own anymore?
Are you consuming this content to make yourself feel better?
Are you even applying the knowledge that you consume?
You can read all these books and listen to all these motivational videos, but what good are they if you aren’t implementing them?
Many people are searching for the one thing that is going to change their life. The one secret to success or happiness.
It’s not out there.
Positive content IS better than negative/mindless content, but be aware of what you’re actually doing.
Time to yourself
To be honest, I consume a lot of information myself.
However, I make sure to have multiple moments of silence and time to be with myself and my own thoughts throughout my day.
I meditate, I journal, I take a walk in silence, I do a lot of my lab work in silence, and I wash the dishes in silence.
While I never watch TV or watch much negative content, I still love consuming all the things just like the next person.
I love learning about finances, I love listening to personal development focused videos, I love reading books and blog posts. There’s just SO much good information out there.
But those moments of silence throughout my day allow me to be alone with my thoughts. I can process negative emotions, positive emotions, ideas, beliefs, etc.
I allow myself to observe ME. I allow myself to still think for myself.
If we’re not consuming television, videos, podcasts, books, or blogs, we’re still consuming Facebook updates and Instagram stories or photos.
Plus, you’re consuming everything in your day-to-day life such as school/work material and conversations.
GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK.
Be aware of what you are consuming and don’t be afraid to be alone in silence.
You can learn so much about yourself by allowing silence intentionally.
Feel bored sometimes. You do not constantly have to be simulated or consuming information.
The power of content
Hopefully I have convinced you to reduce your content consumption overall, but I also want to encourage you to change the TYPE of content you consume when you choose to.
The content you consume matters.
The more I have traveled in my personal development journey, the more the content I consume has shifted.
As I mentioned earlier, gone are the days where I watch TV.
I don’t even own a TV and if I do watch Netflix it’s on the weekend with my boyfriend.
In the morning I often listen to the playlist titled, ‘Motivational Speeches – The Best Motivation Speeches & Music’ on Spotify. It hypes me up while I get ready for my day.
I only used to listen to music in the car. Now I listen to podcasts (mostly on finance) while I drive and often even when I workout. This allows me to make the most of what I consider “down time,” by learning about a subject I am passionate about.
I used to watch a lot of vloggers on YouTube, many of which would promote a lot of material consumption and/or poor habits. Now I mostly prefer to watch videos where I can learn (more) about finances or a skill, such as editing videos.
There are still times where I read news articles and watch Netflix shows and watch stupid YouTube videos, but I limit this.
I want to nourish my brain with information that contributes to my growth and knowledge.
None of those other things serve me. I don’t want mind-numbing information or entertainment.
With all the amazing USEFUL information out there, why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of them??
If you become aware of the content and information you are allowing into your brain, you can determine if they are serving you or wasting your time.
As with everything else, moderation is key.
All these things shape you. You have to ask yourself who you want to be.
If the content your consuming on a regular basis doesn’t align with that identity, it’s time to analyze and make a shift.