The focus of our attention determines our life experiences. Where we put our attention, we put our energy. Where we put our attention, we put our consciousness. We draw into our lives the thing to which we give our attention, whether we want it or not. We seed the thing or idea that has our attention. That seed grows into the experiences of everyday life.
Light and Dark; Positive and Negative
There is a light side and a dark side to every part of life. Or we might say that everything has both a positive and a negative side or aspect. Without the light and the dark (or positive and negative), life could not exist as we know it. The opportunity exists for personal choice of focus on either the positive or the negative. We can choose to see and expand the darkness or the lightness of each situation, each relationship, each moment. We can choose to focus on the negative or the positive in each person — both exist. We can choose to illuminate the bad or the good in every situation. It is an individual choice, constantly evoked by our focus of attention.
We can be positive and happy simply because we make that choice, dependent on nothing else. That to which we give our attention grows and grows. A little flaw becomes a big one as we talk about it. The flaw gains greater momentum with each telling, drawing to us others who are fascinated by the flaw. As the fascination grows, we see the same or similar flaws in others. So, too, a good point becomes an enormous asset as we focus on it and give it attention through our observations, thoughts, and conversations.
Attention: A Matter of Choice
Every decision is a choice. Where we put our attention can be a life- changing choice. Our attention steers our path and directs our thoughts. Sometimes it appears that we do not have a choice about where we place our attention. Sometimes we need a reminder. I remind you and encourage you to remind yourself and others: “you have a choice.” Choose to place your attention on what you want. Give your attention to what you appreciate. Fill your thoughts with what you want to expand.
One of my regular clients — an organization consultant — called me, frustrated and angry about the overwhelming number of demands on his time. Six projects were due in the same week. I allowed him a few minutes of panicky explanations. Then I asked him to take a few deep breaths and assisted him to become centered. I knew in his accelerated frenetic state the only way for him to complete all his responsibilities on time was to slow down. We breathed together. As he focused on his breathing, he released his resistance. We joined our consciousness in a solution rather than in the crisis.
As soon as he was out of the crisis mode and emitting a smoother vibration, he was able to see clearly his path out of the mess. As he gave his full attention to the clarity he was seeking, he energized clear thinking. He knew what to do. I offered several suggestions related to order, sequence, delegation, and self-care strategies. However, he freed himself from the panic when he gave his full attention to calming himself down by turning inside himself to become centered and clear.
He refocused his attention from the outer to the inner, which raised his vibration and strengthened him to respond more effectively to his current situation. He called me two days later to report that he completed five of his projects on time and got a three-day extension on the sixth one, with no inconvenience to his client.
Attention Expands the Thing
The thing which has our attention grows and attracts additional similar experiences. The thing grows in our awareness and in our reality. The vibration of our energy field harmonizes with the vibration of the focus of our attention.
Many years ago, I purchased my first car. Before I decided to buy a car, I was aware that there were Fords and Chevrolets and Chryslers and Saabs and a few other makes and models. My knowledge was general and shallow; my interest was mild. A car provided transportation.
I considered that I would buy a Chevrolet. Suddenly, I could see Chevrolets everywhere! Based on what I saw, I identified what I wanted and what I did not want. Cars — most specifically Chevrolets — had my attention. I was vibrating to Chevrolets and they came out to meet me on the road.
Many times I have experienced this phenomenon in even more profound ways. That is, I have been unaware of a thing, then I become aware, and then I notice aspects of the thing that were unavailable to me before. Or I notice that the thing has many nuances I had not considered. When I began to apply this realization to other parts of my life, I began to recognize that manifestation is a direct result of the focus of my attention. Before that, I believed that life was a series of random occurrences.
When I give my attention to the light or positive side of a thing, it becomes more a part of my world. When I give my attention to the negative or lack of that thing, the negative or lack becomes part of my world. My attention is an act of creation. My attention creates and attracts my experiences.
Right or Wrong; Good or Bad
Many people debate the classic question: “Is there an absolute right and wrong?” Or, “Is there an absolute good and bad?” However, I think it is more empowering to rephrase the question: “Is my attention on what makes me feel good or what makes me feel bad?” Or, “Is this right or wrong for me right now?” Since both sides of every duality exist for every part of life, we make a choice as we are faced with each part of life, hundreds of times a day. The variety helps us to choose.
Keep in mind that we exchange energy with the thing or idea that has our attention. If our attention is on what is “right” or “good” or what we consider is “right” or “good” or what feels “right” or “good,” we energize that. So too, if our attention is on what is “wrong” or “bad” or what we consider is “wrong” or “bad,” or what feels “wrong” or “bad,” we energize that. The thing or aspect to which we give our attention expands. Its vibration expands in our energy field. Where is your attention?
Pros And Cons
It is very popular to consider the “pros and cons” of various choices of a decision we are facing. That is, we look at what we like and what we do not like about each option. We often call this “weighing” the pros and cons. Management specialists even teach the value of preparing a chart so that all the positives go in the plus column and all the negatives go in the minus column. The chart is powerfully visual. The problem is, it is also powerfully creative.
For example, if we have charted three scenarios from which we will select one and we see all the pros and cons of the three scenarios, no matter which one we choose, we are drawing to us both the pros and the cons. We send out mixed messages when we give our attention to the positive and negative aspects equally.
When we take the time to shift the negative items on the list to the positive column, we can take this process to the next step. To shift each negative to a positive is very empowering. When we cannot keep our attention on the positive, we can shift it to the positive. Without this additional step, every choice we bring into our life weighing the pros and cons will manifest with pros and cons. Pros and cons have our attention; both expand.
An even better approach is to stay focused on the positive aspects of the three scenarios. Keep adding more positive items until they are exhausted. And then add more. What happens is that the internal thought processes convert a potential negative item to a positive one so that the item will make the list. If we feel we are finished with the list, we are ready to make a selection. If we feel uncomfortable because something is left unsaid, then there is space to say the unsaid thing which, of course, will be negative. By then, we are so accustomed to thinking of items to go on the positive side of the list that usually the shift to a positive idea is swift. Where is your attention?
Appreciating the Whole Thing
A long-time client reported a significant experience. She had repeatedly been reprimanded by her boss, which had led to an uncomfortable dynamic in their relationship. This has often been the focus of our consultation work together, discussing many possible solutions.
She described several things he had done and said the day before. Ordinarily she would have reacted negatively to him, possibly creating an argument. This time, she decided not to dissect the events by calling them “right” or “wrong,” “good” or “bad.” She made a choice to give her attention to the whole. She said, “I just appreciated the whole thing.” She stepped back and appreciated the experience. Wholeness and appreciation had her attention.
Wow! What a profound shift she had made: she moved her attention away from the fragmented parts she had judged negatively and moved her attention to the whole, without judgment. Her shift created good feelings in her, which she named “appreciation.” Stepping from specific aspects that are annoying to a more general or broader view often assists us in experiencing a good or positive feeling.
We can all open our consciousness greatly by simply appreciating an experience. To this I apply the current cliche “being in the flow.” By that I mean that “being in the flow” is more than a mere excuse for doing or not doing something. I mean that life is flowing, energy is moving, and we are empowered. We have given our attention to the whole. Where is your attention?
Where is Your Attention?
Is that place or thing or idea worthy of your attention? You have a choice. Consider for a moment a specific event or condition that has challenged you this week. With that situation in mind, ask yourself, “Where is/was my attention?”
Is your attention on the inner or the outer? On the seen or the unseen? On the good or the bad? On what is right or what is wrong? On the frustration or the opportunity? On worry or joy? On satisfaction or lack of satisfaction? On what you desire or the lack of it? On the light or the dark side? You have a choice. What do you want to seed with your attention?
Be gentle with yourself as you answer these questions. If you do not like your answer, laugh at yourself with loving appreciation and make a new choice. Where is your attention?