Whatever You Focus Your Attention on Grows.

Focus through round frame into forest and see the image grow in frame

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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How are you Coping with Stress? Take the Stress Index Test.

man lying down with stress sticky notes all over his face and around him

Coping with Stress

What is Stress?

Stress is part of life. Antibiotics can’t touch it. The microscope can’t spot it. It is rapidly spreading and almost everybody’s feeling the effect. A death in the family, the birth of a baby, moving, taking a vacation, getting a job promotion, arguing … all of these common occurrences are stressful. Since stress cannot be excised from the life experience, it is imperative to learn how to deal with it.

Although we all talk about stress, it often is not clear what stress is really about. It seems that stress is the “hot” word these days. Most people seem to agree that these are high-pressure times. Employees complain of being burned out, used up or overloaded.
Many of us are just plain tired, tired of ever going change, sick of ambiguity and uncertainty. We just wish that change would go way, or at least slow down. When it does not, we look round for someone to blame or for someone we feel should be responsible for causing stress.

What does Research say

Research shows that everyone sees situations differently and each person has different coping skills. It is not necessarily the nature of the stressor that drives people to dizzying heights of fist-clenching, jaw-grinding, cold-sweating states of stress and panic. The key factor is one’s response to a stressful situation. Different people respond differently to stressors.

One person may calmly face moving day, while another person (in the exact same situation) might be totally wiped out by the stress that moving induces. So the ability to manage the stressors that bombard us daily is of the utmost importance.

Also not all situations that are labelled “stressful” are harmful. Being promoted, changing careers or moving to a new office or home may not be perceived as threatening.

However, we may feel that situations are stressful because we are not adequately prepared to deal with them.

Some situations in life are stress-provoking, but it is our thoughts about situations that determine whether they are a problem or not to us.

However, there is one area experts feel will usually cause negative stress and that lack of control over one’s job or workplace. This is the leading cause of stress more than hours of work or one’s responsibility on the job.

Stress manifests itself physically.

When facing a stressor, your body responds by switching into a ‘fight or flight’ mode. Physiologically, your body is ready to deal with the perceived danger (the stressor). Your blood pressure goes up; heart and respiration rate increases and hormones are released such as adrenaline. The muscles become tensed (some people clench their jaw); headaches, back pain, stomach aches (ulcers become exacerbated), bad skin, and the inability to concentrate may plague your day. Your extremities become cold as blood is kept in the central part of the body. The immune system is weakened (since your body is concentrating on dealing with the stressor), and you become very susceptible to colds, flues, cold sores, cankers, etc. Stress erodes sexual function also. Evidently, stress is a very real and potentially uncomfortable component of life.

While stress can be both good and bad, on average Canadians say 47 percent of the stress they face is of the bad variety. According to Statistics Canada, 23 per cent of people over the age of 15 report that most days are “quite a bit” or “extremely” stressful, and that number rises to 30 per cent among the 35 to 54 age group.

What is Your Stress Index?

Stress can be difficult to understand. The emotional chaos it causes can make our daily lives miserable. It can also decrease our physical health, sometimes drastically. Strangely, we are not always aware that we are under stress. The habits, attitudes and signs that can alert us to problems may be hard to recognize because they have become so familiar. How high is your Stress Index? Find out by scoring your answers to the questions below.


1-6: There are few hassles in your life. Make sure, though, that you are not trying so hard to avoid problems that you shy away from challenges.
7 – 13: You’ve got your life in fairly good control. Work on the choices and habits that could still be causing you some unnecessary stress in your life.

14 – 20: You’re approaching the danger zone. You may well be suffering stress-related symptoms, and your relationships could be strained. Think carefully about the choices you’ve made and take relaxation breaks every day.

Above 20: Emergency! You must stop now, re-think how you are living, change your attitudes and pay careful attention to diet, exercise and relaxation.
CMHA National website

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