Shifting focus: how our thoughts create our reality
You’ve likely experienced the phenomenon that happens when you learn or discover something new, and then start seeing that new thing everywhere you go. For example, if a friend points out the awkward way you stand when giving presentations, every time you stand up to present, your brain will run a story like this: “Don’t stand so funny, try not to be awkward, I must look weird.” and you undoubtedly look awkward and uncomfortable.
On the other hand, if that same friend points out how great a colleague looks when they stand with confidence and authority, then when it’s time to give your presentation, your mind will be saying “Stand up tall, be confident, you’ve got this!” and you we will give off an attitude of self-confidence.
Our thoughts create our realities. If we focus on the negative, we see negative things everywhere, if we focus on what’s good, we see more positive experiences in our lives. We have so many choices every day, and whatever we choose to focus on is what we start to have more of. The exciting thing is, this means you get to choose if you want more hassle and pain in your life, or if you want more happiness, success and fun. The choice is always yours.
What if we chose to focus on what we wanted, instead of what we don’t want?
Picture this: You want to lose weight, and you know in order to do this you need to make healthy eating choices. You receive an invitation to your close friend’s birthday party where they will be serving junk food and cake, and all of your friends will be going: Do you think to yourself:
- “Ugh, why did they invite me to this? They know I’m trying to lose weight and will be totally miserable watching everyone eat all the foods I can’t have. I’ll look like a total loser sitting there all alone, this is going to be a nightmare!”
- “Oh fun! I love birthday parties and I haven’t seen my friends in ages. If I eat a healthy meal before I go, I’ll be full and able to focus on what’s important, celebrating my friend!”
In option A, you’ll enter the party in a state of stress and self-pity, that will actually decrease your ability to enjoy the party, making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. In option B, you enter the party in a more resourceful state of open excitement, with the expectation that you will have fun and enjoy yourself.
It’s easy to see which option will bring more joy into your life.
What unhelpful thoughts have you been focusing on that are negative or causing you pain and suffering? How can you replace these thoughts with ones that will bring you joy and purpose and put you in a more resourceful state?
Take a few minutes today to do this simple exercise to change your focus:
- Get a piece of paper and draw a line down the center.
- On the left write a list of common unhelpful thoughts you have that are holding you back.
- On the right, write a positive way to view each thought that helps you to be more resourceful.
- Read the left side and see how the statements make you feel, do the same with the right side, notice the difference.
- Cut the paper on the line you drew, crumple up, throw away or burn the negative side and keep the positive one with you. These are your new thoughts to practice and change your FOCUS.