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You are what you eat – that’s obvious. But you are also what you consume mentally. With every conversation, book, podcast, tweet and interaction you are effectively incorporating somebody else’s thoughts, feelings and emotions into you.
You are being changed, ever so slightly.
Unless you completely switch off from all forms of communication, you can’t stop this process. Even if you try to actively not be changed, the content will in fact change you. Thus, the multi billion dollar advertising industry.
Despite our best intentions not to be influenced, advertisements work. We are affected by them, and as such, we change our (purchasing) behaviour.
This is not all bad, in fact it’s the basis of learning. By watching, observing, communicating and interacting we learn. The best learners purposefully open themselves up for being changed, because with change comes new insight. But to say that this learning doesn’t change you is wrong.
In addition, the change may not necessarily even be a good one.
It is very hard to un-hear something. Once you have been exposed to an idea, it is impossible to remove the stain of that idea out of your consciousness. You can try and counter it, to disprove it, to ignore it or to fill your mind with other thoughts. Regardless, once it is in, it is there forever. Whether or not you asked to have that piece of information is irrelevant.
This is why protesters vividly project their world view. They are hoping that their core message, their ‘truth’ sticks in your mind. They are hoping to plant a seed that will grow and grow in your mind until it can’t be ignored.
Ideas have the ability to spread like a contagion. Just take a look at the impact of ideas throughout history. All major religions, social movements, atrocities, and achievements have been predicated on the basis of a strong idea disseminated throughout a population.
But it is not just the well thought out, reasoned ideas that will impact you. It is everything you mentally consume. Do a quick test, open up your social media and take a scroll through. Observe the emotions, thoughts and feelings that pop up. Look at what is being shown to you and how it makes you feel.
That happens every time you are on there. Watch a TV show or movie, read a blog, web forum or news site. How does the content make you feel? What about the advertisements?
If you focus on this enough, you will be able to observe how you are being changed by it. Once you notice that you are being changed, it is up to you to decide if you want to continue to be changed.
If you don’t like those changes, switch the TV off, shut down your social media and associate with new people. The saying that ‘you are the sum of your five closest friends’ is scarily true.
If you find people that you like, that inspire you and make you want to change, associate with them and you will. This could be in person, through their books, podcasts or movies. The more of a person you expose yourself to, the more of them you take in.
Make sure that you are choosing what you consuming, because you are really choosing what you will become.
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Zachary Phillips is an Australian born writer, podcaster, vlogger, school teacher, mental health advocate, motivational speaker and martial artist. He uses these platforms to promote mental health awareness, personal development and self-discovery.
Coming from a troubled past, he began writing as a form of therapy. After finding that sharing his story helped others to move on and heal, he decided to release his first book 'Under The Influence - Reclaiming My Childhood' to the public.
It provides a personal and brutally honest account of the destructive dynamic that a drug affected and mentally ill father can have on his child.
Zachary gives us a sacred peek into his once shattered mind, teaching us that, even against all the odds, a broken mind can not only be healed, but can go on to flourish, inspiring others along the way. - About Under The Influence
"I hope that my work will help to reduce the stigma around mental illness and provide some guidance to those facing similar circumstances."
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