Most of what I do with people is aimed at putting them back in control of their own experience.
A lot of what the world does to us, is make us feel like we can’t control anything.
For much of our lives, especially much of our early lives, we are forced to focus where other people want us to focus.
In school, we are forced to focus on what the teachers want us to focus on. We get in trouble if we don’t.
At work, we are forced to focus on what our employers want us to focus on. If we don’t we get fired.
I’m not saying that every time someone has an expectation about our focus, it’s necessarily bad.
ButI do think that, over time, we get used to not choosing our focus.
We stop trying to control our focus, because we’ve had so many experiences of our focus being determined by other people.
Even in social situations, there is strong pressure to focus on the people and issues that are the most popular and pressing within our group.
Those who do not want to focus on those people and issues face criticism and ostracism.
So after awhile, we just get used to surrendering our focus, and letting other people decide our focus for us.
Then, when we wind up depressed, anxious, or addicted, we get criticism from others for not having taken enough initiative in deciding our own focus.
This is especially a problem with people who suffer from depression.
Very often, the world responds to depressed people by telling them to just shift their focus, and they’ll be happier.
When they have difficulty shifting their focus, they are shamed and blamed for feeling the way they do.
This is after DECADES of being shamed and blamed for NOT focusing where other people want us to focus.
The good news is, we can take our focus back.
We don’t have COMPLETE control over our focus— but we can develop increasingly MORE control over it.
It takes practice and the willingness to go against old programming (specifically, the programming that says to choose our own focus is selfish and futile).
But we CAN get better at directing our focus.
We CAN direct our focus in such a way that life seems more livable.
We CAN create a world inside our heads and hearts that we actually LIKE and VALUE living.
The thing we have to come to terms with, is the fact that he world sends us overwhelmingly mixed messages about choosing our focus.
We get penalized for NOT focusing where other people want us to focus.
Then we get criticized for directing our focus in such a way that exacerbates feelings of depression, anxiety, or loneliness.
Eventually we need to come to a realization that WE are in charge of the world inside our heads and hearts.
Other people may not like it— but they don’t get a vote in how we direct our focus or interpret the world.
They will try to bully their way into your head and heart.
But you don’t have to let them.
The world inside your head and heart is yours.
Reclaim it step by manageable, realistic step.
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