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  • Writer's pictureLuna

You get more of what you focus on... (Part 1)

Updated: May 13, 2020

Our brains are problem-solving machines. For centuries, they have evolved to monitor and predict patterns in order to keep us safe. Today, we experience far fewer direct threats, so our brains start to depend on us to identify the problems we need it to address. So, when you start to give your attention to a problem or statement about yourself, your brain will get busy analyzing and finding proof that this statement is correct or this problem is the most important one to address.

What are you focusing on now?

The more we focus on external things we want to change that are NOT in our control, the more powerless and upset we begin to feel. This can manifest in feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, guilt, sadness, rage, or despair. ‘So it’s important we learn to focus on what is in our control and to channel our energy into that stuff, even though it may feel like a lot of work at first. We always have a choice as to what we direct our attention. We always have the choice to focus on either negative, unhelpful situations/actions that do not serve us, or thoughts and actions that will ultimately take us towards a rich full and meaningful life.’ - Dr Russ Harris.

So, what IS in our control you may be asking? Here, I would like to quote Dr. Russ Harris, the author of the international bestseller The Happiness Trap and a globally-renowned trainer for Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT):

"If I hold a cocked & loaded gun at your head, and I say: 'Have no feelings of anxiety; have no negative thoughts about bad things that might happen' – could you do that? Of course not. But if I I hold a cocked & loaded gun at your head and demand, “Sing Happy Birthday 30 times” could you do that? Of course you could."

When life is difficult, we have far more control over our actions - e.g., what we do with our arms and legs, how and what we say, etc. - than we do over our thoughts and feelings, so even when we are in the midst of an ‘emotional storm’, we can still choose what actions we take. We always have this choice.

Now pause here and take a good look at the last 2 hours of your life. What were you focusing on? How much of that precious time was spent ruminating over the things you could not control? What small action can you take now so that you can start moving towards the life you want?

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you’re doing the impossible” - St. Francis of Assisi

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