We could always use another strategy for shifting our attention. Our thoughts, as well as related feelings and actions, are determined by our focus, our mental spotlight. At times, we aren't even aware of thoughts brewing in the back of our minds, and we may find ourselves unexpectedly in a rut that seemingly comes out of nowhere. Our mental spotlight has become hijacked.
We can proactively displace negativity by cultivating a goal-oriented perspective in everyday life, in everything we do. This is living from the inside, out and here are some ways to get started:
ASK YOURSELF A QUESTION
Shifting to a healthier focus can start with a very simple question. Throughout the day, asking, "What is it that I would like to do here?" pulls us back into a sense of purpose. Asking this question helps us return our attention to what we want to do and helps us break out of negativity. Unhealthy thinking patterns which are often about the past, the future, other people, or situations out of our control can derail us and take us off-track. Our minds were made to wander. Whether it's about self-care, relationships, completing a chore, or tackling a big job, remembering the goal in the moment helps us direct our mental spotlight and our energy. Being mindful of your goal generates constructive focus on the here-and-now.
FOCUS ON YOUR EFFORT, NOT THE RESULT
One of my favorite mantras is, "I am only responsible for my effort, not the result." Focusing on effort helps to act with energy and purpose. Putting forth effort is an active, constructive expression of hope, which allows for any outcome. Conversely, expecting a specific result could lead to disappointment. Focusing on expectations is an irrational attempt to impose our will on the future.
ADD IN SOME GOOD HUMOR AND SELF-COMPASSION
When we focus on our goals and efforts, noticing frustration helps us uncover unhealthy, unhelpful, and unnecessary self-judgment. We may unknowingly be a bully in our own heads, making things more difficult for no reason. The antidote for this is keeping a sense of humor, rejecting harshness and self-criticism, and turning consciously towards self-compassion. Committing to being a kind, encouraging, and reassuring friend to ourselves makes much more sense, and is entirely doable when we are thinking about our thinking.
MARSHA MANDEL, MA, LMHC, CCTP
Master Accelerated Resolution Therapy Clinician
National Accelerated Resolution Therapy Trainer
National SAF-T Trainer
Certified Clinical Trauma Professional