You Are What You Consume: How To Protect Yourself From Negative Influences
Here’s a question for you. What do you consume on a daily basis? We want to know what you give your attention to on an average day, from the news you read and the social media accounts you interact with, to the people you talk to and the books, shows, and podcasts you absorb.
Because guess what? All of these things affect the way you think and behave and contribute to your overall energy. Negative influences have a sneaky habit of zapping our energy before we even realise it.
Research shows that negativity actually distorts our thinking. When we encounter bad news, we overestimate its significance. It’s the very reason why, when a story dominates the headlines, we often fall down the rabbit hole of needing to know every single detail.
Over time, this can change our worldview. As humans, we have an in-built confirmation bias that means on a psychological level we will seek out information that confirms what we already believe.
So when you regularly expose yourself to negative news, toxic people, or draining social media accounts, you’re actually priming your mind to seek out more of the same. The more evidence you gather to support those things, the more likely you are to start believing that the world is a bad place to be.
But you can break the cycle. You can flip the switch and choose to see the good in the world. It all starts with being mindful of what you consume. Here’s how…
Limit your exposure to the news
These days, news is everywhere. We live in an era of 24-hour rolling news cycles. That means, protecting yourself is a little harder than switching the TV off come 6pm. But it doesn’t have to be a losing battle. Maybe you need to mute certain words on Twitter, uninstall news apps on your phone, or be firm with loved ones when they bring up the latest story that’s hit the headlines.
A healthy dose of perspective can go a long way too. A news bulletin is – for the most part at least – a collection of the absolute worst things that have happened across the world in a single day. It doesn’t include all the joyful news that has also filled the past 24 hours.
Somewhere someone in the world is saying I love you for the first time, someone is smashing a major goal, and someone else is welcoming their first child into the world. In a single moment, there are thousands of happy moments taking place around the globe. Despite how you might feel when consuming the latest headlines, there is always, always joy to be found.
When the news cycle feels heavy or another glum story fills our social media feeds, close the apps if you need to, turn off the TV and do your best to keep that in mind.
Consciously consume social media
Opening a social media app you never know what you’re going to get. You could be greeted with posts that make you feel uplifted, happy, and inspired or sad, unmotivated, and stuck.
Our advice? Find happy spaces online. It could be The Head Plan Community (where we share daily motivation, affirmations, and more), meme pages that make you laugh out loud, or accounts that exclusively share pics of puppies. You could even seek out a community of like-minded people who uplift and inspire you.
While you’re at it, mindfully review the content that drains you. Maybe you follow a particular news outlet that gets you down or regularly see toxic updates from someone you know. Remember this: the mute and unfollow buttons are there for a reason. Protect your energy and use them. You owe it to yourself.
Bubble wrap yourself
You know that saying ‘you are the grand sum of the five people you spend the most time with?’. It’s not just a hollow sentiment. The people around us literally impact the way we think, feel and behave. Thanks to mirror neurons in our brain, we’re primed to ‘mirror’ the behaviours of the people we observe. That’s why, if a colleague is in a bad mood, you might find you start feeling cranky too.
But guess what? You don’t have to take on other people’s energies. You could excuse yourself from a toxic situation, take breaks if someone is getting you down, or even try the bubble wrap method. To do it, simply visualise yourself wrapped in protective bubble wrap, and imagine their hurtful, unkind, or downright toxic comments bouncing off your protective layer.
You can also actively try to redirect the conversation. Try using phrases like ‘How are things with you? Tell me some good news!’ or What’s been the highlight of your week so far?’.
Conventional wisdom says that you should cut negative people out of your life, but not only is that not always possible, in some circumstances, it could be considered unkind. Instead, you can choose to be a positive influence in their life.
The old adage is true: You never know what someone else is going through, so if their begrudgery, skepticism, or downright negative attitude leaves you cold, be the person who brings some love, light and joy to the conversation.
Shift your energy
At any given moment, you can choose to redirect your focus. If social media, the news, or even the people around you are draining your precious reserves, you can make a conscious decision to change gears.
Not sure where to start? Get up and move your body (a few star jumps will show that foul mood who’s boss) crank up your favourite tune, recite some uplifting affirmations, or flick through some of your favourite photos.
It’s as simple as this: if you don’t like what you are consuming you can switch off or choose to consume something better.
Reconsider what you consume…
Can you imagine putting petrol in a diesel engine and expecting your car to get you from A to B? Feeding your body and soul with negativity is just like that: you can’t feed it bad energy and expect good results.
Getting to where you want to be and enjoying the journey along the way is all about developing the right mindset. That’s why we’re calling on you right now to reassess your habits. Have a think about what you’ve been consuming and the part it plays in the energy you’re able to bring to the world.
Here’s our motto: if in doubt, cut it out. That’s right. Eliminate those toxic habits, even just for a week and see how you feel.
According to an unattributed proverb, “your diet is not only what you eat. It’s what you watch, what you listen to, what you read, and the people you hang around with.” When you mindfully consume the world around you, there’s no telling what you can achieve.