Most of us go through our daily lives not recognizing the power of focus. If we’re listening to the news, and something catches us, we focus on it. If we’re standing in line and there’s a grumpy patron in front of us, we tend to focus on them. If traffic is bad going to work, this tends to hold our focus for the entire commute.
We focus there if Facebook, Twitter, or TikTok catches our eye. If our boss is in a bad mood, we complain to our co-workers and keep focusing on it. If our children are upset, we often focus on their upsets. When our children complain in the face of a blessed world full of fantastic opportunities, we focus on it. We engage what they have chosen to focus on because we don’t realize we are teaching them to filter their lives. If chronic, this becomes the habitual filter through which they interpret the world.
Our children will, without intervention, be vastly compromised in managing their attention unless we begin to make changes. The exposure to phones, computers, and video games (that we often allow children without significant limits) hijacks attentional pathways in the brain, weakening the brain’s ability to exercise healthy, productive choices.
In my mind, a thought arises about how badly I was treated as a child, and I focus on it. A few moments later, a thought arises about the mistakes I made yesterday, last week, last month, or last year, and now I focus there.
For most of our children and teenagers, their lives are easy, safe, and full of opportunities for growth and happiness. Yet, we find more and more children focusing on thoughts and situations that bring anxiety and sadness.
What Takes Our Focus Steals Our Life.
Understanding that thoughts and events will arise over which we have no control is critical. We’re driving the car, and boom… a thought arises. We’re on the phone, and the world intrudes with alerts, commentary, and criticism. Everywhere we turn, our focus is being directed and taken from us.
For our families, it will be much the same. Often, we can’t control the events that show up, and we can’t control the thoughts that arise from those events. Events happen, and thoughts just come about. And then, we focus on that.
Our children will have similar experiences, with thoughts and emotions that automatically arise.
Most of these thoughts and the following emotions have limited value if we repeatedly suffer from them.
Yet, for children and adults, life will continually present itself in a way to offer a choice. It may not seem that way, but the choice is there. We can go with the flow of what seems automatic, or we can begin to recognize we have the power to focus elsewhere. We also play a significant role in teaching our children the power of focus based on where we put our attention.
Challenge: Fight to Focus on What Feels Good!
How do you feel about this life? How do you feel about the world we live in? How are you feeling right now?
I ask because we typically experience the effects or feelings that flow from where we have put our attention over time. If our focus has habitually shifted to the negative, the doubting, the cynical, or the sad, our lives tend to reflect that habitual focus.
So, in short, we stand where we are today as the accumulated effect of what we have focused on. And yet, few of us have carefully considered what we habitually focus on.
And by the way, the mind may find all sorts of content interesting, and yet none of it may feel good.
Today, I suggest a fresh start. Perhaps we look at this as a chosen priority. I suggest you choose what will get your attention and then focus to ensure this happens. Let’s consider a few simple ideas:
- Start the day with laughter by watching hilarious videos
- Leave for work 15 early, so no traffic takes your joy.
- Shut down social media that does not uplift or inspire you.
- Choose three empowering questions to ask everyone before leaving home.
- Set the intention to smile today regardless of other’s moods.
- Be diligent of the negative, the pessimist, and walk away.
- When the children complain, turn your attention elsewhere.
- Set firm limits on your family’s access to negative hijackers of their focus.
There are dozens of ways to hijack your focus based on what you want. Consider what you would like and resolve to move toward this today. Simply choose it and predetermine how to hijack your attention in the direction you seek. This is key.
Then, do the same for your family. Don’t engage in repeated complaints, noticing the problems and ruminating on what is disliked, unwanted, or even unfair. Don’t criticize or constantly coach your children. Wait for the pleasant, friendly, and more inspired moments and then engage the children. Put your focus on what you want, NOT what you don’t want. This is power!
And so, the point of all this is to remember: What got your attention stole a bit of your life. Was it worth it? Was it a good exchange? Would you give it that much time if you could do it over? And how many times have you given up your focus without so much of a second thought?
For some with attentional issues and anxiety, this may be more difficult, but it can be done. However, some tools will help the brain to focus better, and Neurofeedback is one of those tools.
Learn more about how you or your child can improve focus, reduce distractibility, and enhance performance at CaptialDistrictNeurofeedback.com.