Whatever You Focus Your Attention on Grows.

Focus through round frame into forest and see the image grow in frameWritten by Monika B.  Jensen PhD

If we are what we eat, as the old saying goes, we may also be what we think. Or how we think, as well as how much we think. Recently in my studies, I have come across the statements, “What you focus on grows, what you think about expands and what you dwell on determines your destiny.” That would mean that we are 100% responsible for our thinking.

You are not responsible for everything that happens to you, but you are responsible for how you react to what does happen to you. The principle that “Life acts. You react.” means that your reactions are under your control.

In any life situation, you are always responsible for at least one thing – your attitude towards the condition in which you find yourself. Your attitude is your response to what life hands you. You can have either a more positive or a more negative outlook. It is under your power and can be changed. With the right attitude, you can be an adaptable and flexible person.

So how do you  change your thinking pattern?

If you change your thinking, then your life will improve. But what thoughts do you change? Your bothersome thoughts about a position can simply be  in your self-talk. Self-talk is the inner running conversation you have with yourself. It is what you tell yourself about life’s situations.

If a person focuses on their strong points, achievements, and accomplishments, the world opens up to many extraordinary opportunities. This positive outlook reveals itself in the form of more energy, increased creativeness and a stronger sense of competence. We start to say, “Bring it on; I can handle it. I am able!”

On the other hand, when you focus on your weak points and disappointments, the world becomes a terrible place of “whoa” and anguish. You may start to believe that you cannot succeed, so you stop trying, which may cause mental distress. These anxious thoughts fill one’s day with trepidation and drudgery and may weigh a person down with a sense of bleakness.

To modify your self-talk or attitude, you must change that inner conversation or dialogue you are having. To stop it, you must catch it in action. So, pay attention to yourself. You must connect to and listen for that inner voice whenever possible.

Listen to your inner voice.

All of us have a voice that talks to us. You may recognize it as that voice that starts as soon as you wake up. Now and then, it may wait until you look in the mirror before it actually talks to you. It may say, “You sure are good looking.” or “What a wonderful person you are.” Alternatively, “You are going to have a great day.” It might even say, “You are in great shape, and a perfect size and your hair looks fantastic.” If you are not familiar with this voice, then yours may be speaking to you differently. You might be hearing, “You look like crap today” or “You sure have put on the pounds.” “Having a bad hair day?” “It’s is a terrible day! Just go back to bed.” This voice, the critical one, is one of the primary reason we have so many problems. It can destroy resiliency by opening the floodgates and draining your energy.

You have probably heard or read about this before and are wondering at this point, so what is new about this…how do I change or stop this dialogue.

Let’s explore….

The next time that you find yourself feeling “bad,” do not start asking, “Who did this to me?” Do not start looking around for the external cause of your problems. What you should do is ask yourself, “What have I been thinking?” “What have I been telling my self?” You may find that your inner self-talk has put you deep into emotional distress

Whenever life acts, we respond. If you win the lottery, you might be happy. If you lose your job, you may be angry, whatever your reaction will depend upon your attitude. Fortunately, we can control our attitudes.

In determining how we face life, it is our attitude that is the key.

Paying attention to what you think is a practice called self-observation. It means that you embrace that inner voice in your head as it begins to speak to you. It is paying attention to what it is saying. Is it helpful or not?

Learning to recognize that judgmental voice.

When you try this process of self-observation, you may likely hear that voice claiming, “Well, you did it again!” You will catch yourself after the fact. You will find that inner voice after it has spoken, and you are already amid that damaging reaction. You may have been severely condemning yourself for a blunder. You may have been listening to how excessively “unpleasant” an annoying but innocent situation was.

When the inner voice speaks to you, you should listen.

Whenever you hear that voice saying, “Well, you did it again!” You should applaud yourself. You have made a lot of progress because always in the past, you would have listened to that negative inner dialogue and never even know that you did it. You would think that it was normal. You need to learn to catch yourself after the act.

By observing the inner voice soon may say, “Here you are doing it again.” So, go ahead and do it. Improvement occurs because you now find yourself in the act but are not yet able to stop it. Hence, when you hear the voice saying, “Well, you are about to do it again.” Once again, you continue with the thinking and blame yourself for the mistake. You are becoming more mindful and catching yourself in the act earlier each time.

Ultimately, you will hear, “Pay attention. You are about to do it again.” At this point, you choose not to proceed. You do not begin the negative dialogue but deliberately start a positive one. You hear yourself saying, “Mistakes are good. You can learn from this slit-up. Try again and see what happens.” You are now getting out of the negative pattern and consciously influential your response to life events.

When you listen to your inner dialogue and choose a more positive and realistic attitude, you become a more influential person.

Remember: Attitude is the key to resiliency.

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