The Focus of Attention

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There is a saying common in create-your-own-reality circles, “What you focus on grows larger”.  This is exactly the same as a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.  If all you can see when you look in the mirror is that big, red pimple on the end of your nose, you are also sure that is what everyone else is looking at as well.   This is certainly true in middle school, and your peers will reward you with confirmation of it.   What you seek, you do indeed find.

This also the basis of the parenting advice taught in schools, ” Catch your child being good!” and “Children will live up to, or down to, your expectations of them”.  Why so many quotes?  Partly to point out that “what you focus on grows larger” is just a woo-woo way of saying something that is pretty well accepted by mainstream society, and partly to lay the groundwork for using consciously directed focus to improve your life.

Think of a dark cabaret, filled with people and talking, staff moving around, smells wafting through the air.  The spotlight comes up on the stage and everyone focuses their attention on the stage.  If the performer is good enough, your awareness of all that other activity can simply disappear.  Imagine then, how selective attention to what you enjoy about what is happening in your life can make the parts you don’t enjoy “disappear”.

Each thing has positive and  negative aspects, so you have the choice of what to put your attention on.  This takes practice as well, and at times, it takes giving yourself permission to ignore things which you dis-enjoy.  Or to put a positive “spin” on it.  Same thing.  For example,  I am regularly visited by the ghost of martyrdom past that I learned at my mother’s knee. I find myself thinking that my family leave things undone for me to do; belongings strewn around, food unrefrigerated, toilet paper unstocked, etc. I think, ‘Why is this always my job? or ‘Can’t anyone else see that this has to be done’ or similar versions of the same theme.  So I suggest, or complain, or nag, all the while angry that I should even have to say anything.

In fact, I do not have to do any of those things.  I can choose to leave the thing undone, I can choose to do it for my own reasons, I can choose to mention it as a problem and ask my family for input in resolving it.  What I actually choose to do will vary, but the task in front of me each time is to focus on what I want and not on what makes me angry.  Sometimes I want help, sometimes I want appreciation, sometimes I want it not to be up to me at all.  When I can identify that desire, I can move towards it.  If all I am looking at is what is wrong, all I can see is what is wrong!

Sometimes we get in too deep to be able to find a positive side.  As always, there are options.  Ignore it until you feel better and then try again,  just a little bit.  I knit a sweater once from the pattern from hell.  Lots of things didn’t work and my fixes seemed to make more problems.  I finally posted my quandry on a knitting forum and one responder sympathized, saying she had some projects like that in a drawer.  I was flabbergasted.  I could put it in a drawer! That had never dawned on me.  When I finally pulled the project back out, months later, I had gained a new perspective and was able to make choices about what I was willing and not willing to do and the sweater got done.  Distraction is not only a wonderful parenting tool, but a terrific self-sanity tool as well.

We are used to disregarding many of our thoughts, feelings, accomplishments.  Dis-regard, not look at.  This is a terrific tool, and very useful, but only when you are dis-regarding what you DON’T like!  So, while you are dis-regarding the things you don’t like, what are you putting in their place?  Simple.  What you DO like.  When someone compliments you, do you tell them it is nothing? Your project is great- do you say yes, but there are still problems?  Try this: whenever you hear yourself say, “Yes, but…”, change it (at least mentally) to “Yes, so…”  It is surprising the places that simple word choice will lead you!

Look at what you have and appreciate it.  Look at who you are, what you can do,  and appreciate it.  And then, as Abraham urges, look forward with eagerness to what is coming.

 

 

About laurie

I am a work in progress and well aware of it. More to the point, excited about it! Being a work in progress means I can change at any time. I can be someone today that I wasn't yesterday, and might not be tomorrow, but is perfectly suited to today. Every day. That is complete freedom.
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2 Responses to The Focus of Attention

  1. kathy! says:

    good post and i like the GREEN letters! (at least i SEE it as green letters!)

  2. laurie says:

    I am glad that you see the letters as green! It was the designer’s intent!

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