Consuming Negativity, Consumes Us

By the time FDR was elected into office the first time, the Great Depression was at it’s worst. People were suffering immeasurable obstacles and hope was at an all time low. During his inaugural address, he left us with a quote that will forever be marked in the history books: “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.”

Woman attached to TV

His plea to the American people was to ignore all that was wrong, as with increased focus comes increased despair. Only by ignoring the negativity and fear, can we begin to see new opportunities that lead to new prosperities. This mentality was latched onto by the American people 75 years ago, but has been lost since. It has faded away as mainstream media has infiltrated our world. Although increased access to worldly events has brought many great things to us, I believe it has been for the worse.

Why? Because bad news dominates the headlines. Everybody knows that. What many people don’t understand is how it affects us subconsciously.

You see, there is a specific process we go through that dictates our results in life:

Your results come from the actions you take.
The actions you take only happen because you have specific attitudes/beliefs.
Those beliefs come from thoughts that you create in your mind.
Those thoughts are created by what you consume daily.

There’s a reason the average CEO reads 4-5 books per month, compared to the average person who reads less than 1. They are controlling their input, therefore driving their results.

Results Process

Results Process

When we consume negative, fear-mongering propaganda distributed through every device, at all times – we are continuously filling our mind with this negativity.

We have been led to a culture that idolizes the news and media. We are latched on like a baby to a tit, wanting more and more.

Call it fate or just sheer luck but I haven’t owned a TV in over 4 years. It was stolen, and I just simply didn’t want to replace it. Of course, I didn’t think anything of it, but what a blessing in disguise it was. , because of this, I stopped watching the news. Cold. I just stopped.

About a year after this happened, I was catching up with a friend over Skype and she asked me if I heard about the Ebola virus in Africa. (Remember that?)

Casually, I replied, “No, I don’t keep up with that stuff because I don’t watch the news anymore.”

In shock, she blurted, “What the hell is wrong with you?! How can you not watch the news? How do you know what is happening?”

“If Ebola comes to the US, and is an imminent threat to my life, “ I responded, “I will most likely know all about it by then.”

Whether it’s Ebola, ISIS, school shootings, Black Lives Matter, or lethal cops – the fact remains that we have never lived in more peaceful times. Did you know that?

Over the last two decades, there has been a dramatic decline of homicides, sexual violence, genocides, number of armed conflicts, and deaths from war. This is not just in the United States either, but all over the world.

The rate of Mexican homicide has declined in each of the past two years (including an almost 90 percent drop in Juárez from 2010 to 2012), and many other notoriously dangerous regions have experienced significant turnarounds, including Bogotá, Colombia (a fivefold decline in two decades), Medellín, Colombia (down 85 percent in two decades), São Paolo (down 70 percent in a decade), the favelas of Rio de Janeiro (an almost two-thirds reduction in four years), Russia (down 46 percent in six years), and South Africa (a halving from 1995 to 2011). – The World Is Not Falling Apart

As Bill Clinton says, “Follow the trend lines, not the headlines.”

Yet, the majority of the population is glued to their news sources and infiltrating all social media platforms with their bold opinions. Little do they know that this information consumption overload has very little impact IN their life, but is having a massive impact ON their life.

It’s crazy how warped we become with news that has nothing to do with us. So why do we focus on negativity so much? Why is it so easy?

We actually use negativity to help build relationships with others. According to neuro-linguistic programming, we use negativity as a matching technique.

Let me give you an example:
Your friend Jenny comes up to you in the breakroom at work complaining about this project she is working on. Our subconscious mind right away wants to connect with her, so it naturally takes the path of least resistance and matches what she is saying/doing/feeling. So what do we do? We begin to empathize with her and match her negativity and problems.

“There’s something really powerful about the discovery of shared negative attitudes,” stated Jennifer Bosson, psychology professor at the University of South Florida.

Even if negativity is natural to the human condition, it has become all too commonplace in social and work settings. Negativity is not the only way to connect with others but since it’s the easiest, we tend to use it more frequently.

And when we are consuming negativity all of the time, it becomes a perpetual process where we can’t seem to get enough.

If we want to change our results in life, it’s up to us to start from the beginning of the process and change the inputs in our life first.

In FDR’s famous speech, he calls the American people to stop this senseless fear because it is “converting retreat into advance.” Just like FDR, my plea is that you take control of your consumption of negativity. Not only can you begin to change the results in your life, but also in the world around you.

So…what can you do?

Stop Consuming the News

I know it sounds crazy (especially if you watch the news all the time), but this is the best way to eliminate negativity from your life. You can research and look up thousands of articles, testimonials, and benefits related to not watching the news (Here’s a great one), but let me keep it simple: go on a news diet. For the next 30 days, don’t consume any news (tv, radio, phone, etc). I promise it will be a transformative experience for you – suddenly you will have all this free time to begin reading books, have deeper conversations with others, and reach new levels of productivity. If you are bold enough, let me know if you accept this challenge.

Use an RSS Feed

If your excuse for watching the news is that you want to know what’s going on within a particular topic relevant to your profession, then start using an RSS feed. An RSS feed pulls information from topics specific to what you want and nothing else. No more unwanted news. I personally use Feedly to stay up to date on leadership topics and blog posts from my favorite authors.

Start Your Day Being Proactive

Over 80% of Americans check their phones before brushing their teeth in the morning. I would bet that a majority of that number actually checks it while still laying in bed. If you are going to begin eliminating negativity, you have to control what you consume and when you consume it. If you begin your day by reacting to something someone posted or tweeted about, you are more likely to be unproductive the rest of the day. Begin to look into ways you can start your day in a proactive fashion. I have a morning routine that I generally stick to and absorbing other people’s agendas isn’t part of it. For some tips on morning routines, check out Life Hack’s 15 Ways to Simplify Your Morning Routine.

Audit Your Inner Circle

If we are a sum of the 5 people we spend the most time with, then we might want to see how negative our inner circle is.

Review who are the 5 people you spend the most time with and then for each person ask yourself if they match any of these 5 types of toxic people 5 Types of Toxic Friends. If they do, it might be time to re-evaluate your relationship with that person.