"Garbage in; garbage out" is a phrase I first heard during my early computer programming days. It's a common-sense idea; if you put poor information into a system, poor results come out. Intuitively, we know it's true.
This doesn't just apply to computer systems though, does it? If we think of a person as a "system" with inputs and outputs, what would we see?
Let's look at inputs. We see big problems, global concerns, often delivered by voices shouting that we should be worried. The news, ominous predictions, the blaming and the finger-pointing, all of these are inputs.
How about outputs? If you are walking around with a smile on your face, relatively satisfied with your life, you might feel that there must be something wrong with you. Maybe you are hard-hearted and just don't care!
While I don't know the state of your heart, it's not a stretch to see that our influences affect our outputs: our moods, outlook, even our actions. In his book, "People Can't Drive You Crazy If You Don't Give Them The Keys," Mike Bechtle writes, "...our thoughts come from our inputs. That's why we need to be aware of what we allow to come into our minds."
When we're around people who are full of complaints; we may find ourselves mimicking the behaviour. When we connect with optimistic people; folks who have good relationships and who engage in meaningful activities, we may see a change in ourselves.
Dr. Bechtle recognized that his inputs could be having negative effects on him; the words he uses are "overwhelmed and agitated." If that sounds familiar to you, then you might be interested in what he did about it. He tracked (wrote down) what he was seeing and hearing.
I have long appreciated the value of writing things down. For example, taking a few minutes at the end of each day to write something that we're grateful for can be a huge benefit for us.
What did Bechtle find when he examined his inputs? He reads the newspaper first thing, listens to the news, checks emails. His work involves people, so there are conversations: about work, about the state of the world; there are also angry opinions and unkind gossip. Is any of that reflected in your days?
What did Bechtle do? He didn't eliminate all those inputs, but he did make some deliberate changes. He switched from his morning newspaper to more inspirational reading. He chose to listen to music rather than continuous news and opinions. He reduced his Facebook "friends," deliberately sought out people who provide a positive perspective, and he put constraints on when he checks email.
When we make deliberate changes, we are deliberately taking control of an aspect of our lives. Bechtle's specific changes helped control his inputs. Better quality input leads to better quality output.
This is not to imply that we should disengage from the world. However, if you see that your "diet" of inputs is causing you frustration and misery, without providing benefits or motivation, then maybe it's worth reconsidering what inputs you want to allow into your life.
By the way, Bechtle wrote this book over a decade ago. Current inputs can lead us to believe that "this is the worst time ever!" Yet, we can find remarkably similar troubles and worries throughout the decades, generations, or circumstances.
Do you watch what you allow into your life? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail c/o Progress Bulletin.
To your choices! ~ Susanne ~
Susanne Beck, RTC is Reality Therapy Certified by the William Glasser Institute