We can’t control everything in our lives but we can control a heck of a lot. One of the areas every single one of us has control over is our input, or the things we see and hear.
Think about it this way – A parent is very cautious about what they allow to influence their kiddos. I’m going to guess that most parents probably don’t let their little ones watch violent movies, or listen to songs with cursing, or watch YouTube Videos or the News when it’s not appropriate. If a child listens to lyrics with curse words, the likelihood of those curse words being repeated increases. If a pre teen is playing a video game full of combat, the chances those actions will be used when playing with friends increases. What is initially input eventually becomes output.
So the question I ask is, if we do this for our kids, why do we not do this for ourselves? Why do we let negativity, comparison, fear, shame, aggression, and other unhelpful inputs into our own space? It’s because we’re not as intentional with ourselves as we are with our kids. We relax and get comfortable assuming that because we’re adults, we’ve got it handled. We won’t let negativity or toxicity into our lives.
Well, here’s where most of us are wrong.
If you find that you fall into the comparison trap, make decisions based on fear, get caught up in all or nothing thinking, or worry takes up a permanent space in your mind, I’d HIGHLY encourage you to think about your input. What are you allowing in that should instead be filtered? And how can you adjust? You’ll find some tips on how to better monitor your input below.
- Think About What You Watch
Do you watch the news or tv? Scroll on social media? Watch video after video on YouTube, or Instagram Stories, or TikTok? These are ALL part of your input. These minutes and, let’s be honest, these HOURS are taking up space in both your and in your brain. You will think about these videos after they’re over. And what good are they doing for you? Sure maybe you learned how to make some keto pizza, but was it worth the 4 hours on TikTok to get to that? Or maybe you learned about a new Mexican restaurant opening up nearby on the news, but was it worth all of the fear based content shared before that? I’m going to doubt it. What you watch becomes what you think about. Make sure what you allow in is worth a future thought.
(Sidenote, I had TikTok for about 3 days and lost about 10+ hours of my life and will never get it back. So, thanks but no thanks TikTok.)
2. Think About What You Hear
Yes, you listen to things when you watch the news and social media, but what you hear also includes podcasts, radio, music, and the voices inside your own head. The same encouragement about what you watch applies here. Remain vigilant on what input you hear. All content is not made equal. And all content is not good content. Try to stick with life giving content the majority of the time. Things where you learn or worship or celebrate or laugh. And this goes for your own inner voice as well. Do you speak negatively of yourself? Do you get mad or upset when you make a mistake and keep worrying about it and harping on it? Yeah, stop. Let it go. Monitoring what you hear absolutely includes monitoring what you allow into your thoughts, and that even includes the thoughts you have about yourself. Allow in the good. Filter out the junk.
3. Think About Who You’re With
There’s a quote that says you are the combination of the five people you surround yourself with. Who do you spend your time with? Are they kind, positive, funny, challenging, and ultimately make you better because you’re around them? If not, then you have to figure out how to make a change. Do not let the words and actions of others negatively impact your input. Make sure that when you’re around these people your input is positive.
Monitor your input. What is initially input eventually becomes output. I’m not saying you can’t watch the news, or listen to music with curse words, or listen to your great aunt gossip. What I am saying is to be mindful of what you allow in. Direct your actions so that what you allow in the majority of the time is honest, helpful, encouraging, challenging, and makes you better because of it.
- Track your input. Write out the last 3-7 days worth of input on a paper. Write what the input was (watching, listening, or people) and the topic covered.
- Then look back and determine if that experience was positive, negative or neutral input. Highlight all the positives. Cross out all the negatives. Leave the neutrals as is. What patterns do you see?
- Now choose 1-2 ways you can be more intentional with what you let in and implement them.