The things you read go into your brain and come back out whether you want them to or not. How many of your opinions and attitudes towards the world are handed to you by the things you choose to read? Probably more than you think. This is especially true if you read a newspaper or fashion magazine – newspapers have more of a bias than you might think (after all, news is news, right?); fashion magazines are designed to make you feel like you don’t look right so that you spend money on fixing that. Most things you read benefit the person who wrote them more than they benefit you. Even books like this one are arguably not just about helping people, but also getting a particular message out there and even hopefully pulling in a little bit of money. Of course this one is entirely different….

It’s also true that just because you enjoy reading something, that doesn’t mean it’s helping you. It seems like some magazines are just there to keep us so obsessed with what’s happening with TV characters and celebrities that we numb ourselves to what is really happening inside us and in our world. They give us an unhealthy obsession with knowing about other people, making us feel strangely better about ourselves because we can gloat about what terrible things are happening to a celebrity or be entertained by the horrific stories of things that have happened to other people, but not enough to want to do anything about it.

All this stuff going into our brains means that when you need to get anything back out, say when you’re feeling a bit low and need a lift, you’re likely to get this garbage instead of something that could actually help. If you’re feeling unloved or insignificant and all you have to reference is a magazine about ‘special’ people who have everything you’ve ever wanted, that won’t comfort you. It will either make you feel more insignificant because you will never be famous, or you’ll be bitter when the celebrities are happy and smug when they’re not. None of this helps you deal with the situation you’re in.

I’ve previously touched on the idea that what you say and see ‘primes’ you for later. When you need to know how to react and you’ve already decided, it’s easier to make the decision you intend. If you’re already prewired for bitterness and sarcasm, that will come out whenever you are too tired to consciously react differently. What you read feeds into this too. Basically, you’re setting up your future actions and reactions by what you practise. If you want to stop sabotaging yourself, take a good look at what you’re putting into your mind.