I’m sure you’ve heard about the expression “you are what you eat” and “garbage in, garbage out”.
Today I want to examine the possibility to expand this expression beyond just food. We want to see if we can apply it in other areas in life as well to help us achieve more in life.
Input shift = identity shift
First, I want to tell you a little bit about my own story. 15 years ago I made the transision from being a meat eater to a vegetarian. At the time, I loved steaks, hamburgers and bacon. Then one day when I was preparing a chicken for dinner, it was like something hit me. I suddenly got conscious about the fact that this was an animal. Of course I knew that already, but it didn’t hit me until then that this had been an animal with feelings, ability to feel pain and so forth. Maybe it even had had relationships before it was slaughtered.
The chicken felt like a slaughtered baby on the kitchen counter (which of course it literally was, only a baby from another species), and it disgusted me. Something happened. It was right then and there that I decided I was going to become a vegetarian.
From bacon to broccoli
I knew that I couldn’t go back from here, but I had no idea about how this transition was going to happen or how long it was going to take. Surely I had to give myself a permission to make the transition over time and not just quit…cold turkey so to speak. For example, how on earth was I supposed to manage without… bacon?
For a period of one year, I slowly transitioned towards becoming a full time vegetarian. I started to get aquainted with the the fruit and veg section at the grocery store. Things started to change. And slowly, I started to notice that a shift in input led to an identity shift as well.
Input and output
I was now a proud vegetarian, and I felt more “pure” at heart. I didn’t have to defend my eating habits to myself any more. No more cognitive dissonance. I noticed that this transition also started to effect people around me, which have led to huge changes in my own and other peoples lives. When I started to eat something else, I became something else. The version of me that had been a meat eater was long dead and gone. I now think and behave differently than I did when I was a meat eater which leads me to the conclusion that we really ARE what we eat.
That is why I want you to make a list of things in your life that you want to quit in order to change your input and make some powerful behavioral changes in your life.
1. Make a list of what you put into the system
Whatever you consume, whether it is the news, some comment on facebook or something else, effects you with the energy that it has. So if you consume depressing news about the world, it might effect you in a depressing way. If you eat hamburgers every day, it will effect your health.
Make an inventory list of the things that you put into your system that don’t necessarily are so beneficial to you. Quit those things one by one, and you will start to act according to that energy and to the new identity that you create in the process. Remember: you are what you eat.
2. Food and health input
You don’t have to become a hardcore raw vegan to be healthy (even if I DO believe that is the best option). But I highly suggest that you do try out at least a vegetarian diet for a month to see what that does to your overall health and even more importantly: what it does to your habits in other areas. My transition towards becoming a vegetarian helped me to lose some weight as well, which inspired me to go to the gym more often. When I went to the gym, I was happier. And when I was happier, my family was happier. If you only change one habit you will discover the enormous compound effect this will have on you and your output.
3. News detox
Many people are actually addicted to news and the negativity that they provide. It might sound crazy that you can be addicted to negativity, but think about it. So many people are totally addicted to cigarettes, alcohol and other things that rewards the instant gratification system. Even if they know it’s bad for them. If you are one of those people, be honest with yourself and ask yourself why you think you couldn’t live without news.
But how am I supposed to know what’s going on in the world, you might ask. If you are consuming news that makes you depressed, then ask yourself what you think you will be missing if you stop consuming these news. If you don’t want to quit entirely, I would like to suggest a news detox. Commit to not consuming any news in one day and see how that makes you feel. If you’re hardcore, try it for a whole week. Then evaluate if this shift in input has had any impact on how you feel and think.
Choose your news wisely
If you seriously think that you’re missing out and want to follow along with what’s going on in the world, or if you have a job that requires you to follow the news, then by all means do so. But choose wisely, just as you would do with anything else that you don’t want to effect your health. Choose which news channels are allowed into your system in the first place.
4. Social media input
Try to be honest about your social media habits. Turn to your intuition with this one, because reasoning can deceive you on this. It can seem perfectly reasonable to say to yourself that you HAVE to update your instagram account every day because your business depends on it for example. Or you HAVE to update your facebook page. Ok, maybe you have to do those things. But you don’t have to suck in every comment that someone writes you, or you don’t have to feel obligated to post pictures of your dinner (unless you’re a serious food blogger).
Unfriend and unfollow
I know, this might sound like a scary thing to do. but I’m telling you, this is as satisfying as cleaning out your old kitchen utensils that you no longer use. Think about it: would you be mad if someone you don’t care about would unfriend you on facebook? Probably not. If you want to take some kind of middle way here, there’s always the option to unfollow your facebook friends without having to unfriend them. This way you can make everybody happy but you don’t have to see them in your feed. Out of sight, out of mind.
5. Friends and family
This is the hardest category to detox. Friends and family are close and you don’t want to upset anyone. But you have to be both brave and honest. If you have friends or family members that are energy vampires, you have to lovingly let them go.
Related articles: is it ok to let go of toxic friends?
If you want more on this topic, I hghly recommend this video by Sam Ovens!