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Your social media feed - what do you want to be fed?

What are you being fed by your social media feed?

Let’s use a metaphor.

Imagine that you are a plant. You know a plant depends on the quality of its available light, water and soil.

You would care a lot about getting clean water, being in good sun, and getting your soil fertilised.

We can also think of this from the perspective of children.

If you have kids you will be aware how they are shaped by the TV they watch, the games they play, the opinions they hear and the world around them.

I am sure you take a lot of care to prevent them accessing people, opinions and media content that may be harmful, negative or extreme.

The human mind is highly receptive to information whether you are age 5 or age 50.

The thing you are not aware of is that your mind is rapidly filtering the information coming you’re your eyes and ears and some of it is absorbed in without you having actively noticed it.

This effect is observed in eye witnesses at crime scenes. They may have been unaware they noticed anything, perhaps being engrossed in something else, but later they realise they did see or hear something. It was just ‘processed’ under the radar.

Your social media feed has a direct influence on the way meaning is constructed in your brain, in the connections formed in your mind, in your energy levels, your outlook, attitudes, preferences, and perceptions.

You may not like to hear that it has this much influence, but it does.

The worst part is how insidious this influence is.

Especially if you are following sites and individuals that carry more negative content.

It is the equivalent of living in a place which rains 95% of the time, and where everyone you meet is argumentative and negative.

Let’s stick with the example of children.

As a psychologist I am fully aware that children’s brains are highly susceptible to being shaped by the environments they grow up in.

This is why they call early life the formative years.

During this time of development, the mind is constantly being shaped by learning. This learning is influenced by our surroundings, what we are told, and what we are exposed to.

Due to neuroplasticity, the process of growth, change and learning continues to occur in adulthood.

Our brain creates dense networks of association. These represent our understanding of things. They represent what we are exposed to the most. These are then triggered and further shaped by later life.

The sad truth is that children have little influence or control over what they are exposed to in childhood.

The good news is that as adults we gain much more control over what we are shaped by. Once we understand the power we have to create positive growth in ourselves we can influence the process.

We can do this in many ways.

However, one simple change is to make sure that what we surround ourselves with fits our philosophy and goals.

Positive influences

A lot of people would say that they want to feel more confident, more focused, more creative and more successful. However, when I ask them what they watch and listen to, a good portion of this may be news channels and radio news.

For me, personally, I have met few people who can listen to the news and not be emotionally impacted by the headlines.

Often the repeated effect of hearing stressful, frightening and upsetting content takes its toll on resilience and creativity.

These themes can also contaminate our sleep with more disturbed dreams as the mind tries to make sense of the information it has to digest.

How does the news impact you?

Go through your social media follows and consider how each post on your social media feed makes you feel.

These feelings may be subtle, for example in a feeling of unease, discomfort, a tight chest, feeling more irritable or tense, or even more silent cues like IBS or insomnia.

Where you lead, I will follow

Make sure your feed is leading you in a direction you want to go in.

Every person you follow is having an influence on your brain and body. Every ‘input’ that comes our way has an impact downstream on our wiring and biology.

The seeds that are planted from our social media feed are growing into our future mindset.

So do you have to come off social media?

No, if you like it and it works for you then don’t worry.

There is always a middle ground.

You might feel it’s necessary to have social media. You might connect with friends and colleagues this way.

How about just trimming some of the negative content?

Let’s start with the News. How does hearing about world events and politics leave you feeling?

For many people watching the news makes them feel worried, hopeless, and low in energy.

Could you reduce online news exposure and choose to buy a newspaper once a week?

You have the power to shift what your brain wires in.

It is empowering and cleaning to realise that you do have some control over what you are exposed to.

If you change the environment to one rich in nourishment and inspiration, then your brain will wire in the messages that chime with your future intentions.

Remember, if you unfollow something, or delete content that makes you feed sad, you can always find it again in the future.

Sometimes you can also outgrow certain content.

That’s ok too.

Try and think about it seasonally. Cut everything back and then look for exactly what you need to complement your stage of life and what you need to hear.

Some people will be saying exactly what you need to hear. Seek out those people and subscribe to that content. Use your inner mind as a barometer of whether it is still working for you.

Acknowledge that you have the power to create your own reality and to fill your metaphorical garden with amazing and vibrant colours that thrive with the content you welcome into your space.

Think inspiration.

Think ideas.

Think power.

Think light.

Think vibrance.

Think nourishment.

Think energy.

If your feed is meeting these criteria then you are on the right path.

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