I can’t overstate the importance of focus for any endeavour. What we focus on is to the exclusion of everything else.
Our senses deliver 11 million bits of information per second to the brain for processing however, the conscious mind can only process under 50 bits per second.
This means to understand our environment out brain takes shortcuts. It deletes, generalises and distorts information so we are not overwhelmed. These shortcuts are based on our personal histories. Even though we experience the same events, we interpret them very differently.
Let’s take a family trip to the beach and assume the family of 4 always play a game of beach rugby. The son may enjoy the challenge of tackling dad, outrunning mum and sidestepping sister. He sees it as a great day filled with fun. The daughter hates it though. She gets dumped face-first into the sand, tackled too hard and dreads the experience.
The same event is interpreted differently based on their own reality. The boy literally didn’t see how upset his sister was because it wasn’t an important detail for his enjoyment of the event. Emotional intelligence training helps notice these things in others and ourselves. It allows us to alter our focus.
Our subconscious mind filters out a lot but still takes it in. This is one aspect of intuition where we don’t know why, but something doesn’t feel right about a person or situation. We haven’t consciously processed the reason, but subconsciously we picked it up.
Let’s run a little experiment. This works well when travelling but can be done anywhere. Notice the area around you and see what stands out to you. Spend a minute just taking in your surroundings. Now tell yourself that behind every blue object you see is a $50 note. Look around again and see what stands out to you.
Almost immediately the blue objects leap out at you. Objects you may not have seen before. Look around for another minute, then close your eyes and count how many green objects you noticed. You may find you can’t remember any.
This video highlights several of these points, so watch and play along.
If we focus on what we don’t want, then that is exactly what we’ll get. We get stuck in the negative and it drags us down, unseeing of the potential and opportunities around us.
Our subconscious minds don’t understand negatives. So if I were to tell you “whatever you do, don’t think of a tree”, what is the first thing that popped into your head? Your subconscious mind said, “OK so what is a tree? This is one I know of, so let’s not think about this thing I’ve put in your mind.” It’s already too late.
Your Reticular Activation System (RAS) is a part of your mind with a job to prove you right. If you think “I am poor”, your RAS will look for all evidence to prove you are poor. If you instead think “I am open to opportunities to make money”, your RAS will point out these opportunities to you. This is the more advanced version of looking for all blue objects.
So, how do we utilise this? The first step is to figure out what we do want, rather than what we don’t want. Focussing on what we do want will put our RAS to work for us. The more positive you are in what you seek, the more open to positive experiences you’ll be.
Set all your goals in positive terms to pull you towards them, and you’ll find the momentum and motivation to continue forward.
This reminds me of a story.
Two monks were on a pilgrimage. They had walked many miles already, avoiding society where they could. These monks were from an order that forbade talking to or touching women. To not offend anyone and stick to their vows they kept off the beaten track and lived off the land as best they could.
Currently the rainy season, they found themselves near a river. From a distance, they saw the river had burst its banks, but they hoped the ferryman would help them cross. Once they arrived they saw the raft had snapped from its moorings and the ferryman had stayed at home.
There was however a woman.
Her clothes were fine and she carried an umbrella. She implored the monks to help her cross, as her task was urgent on the other side and though the river was fast and wide, it was not deep.
The younger monk, sticking to his order’s mandates ignored her and looked away. However, in silence, the elder swept her onto his shoulder, carried her across and put her down, completely dry on the opposite bank.
For the following hour, as they journeyed through tangled woods, the younger monk berated the elder. Scorning his actions, accusing him of betraying the order and his vows. How dare he? How could he? What gave him the right? What was he thinking?
When the monks eventually entered a clearing the elder monk stopped and looked directly into the younger’s eyes. There was a long moment of silence.
Finally in a gentle tone, eyes bright and compassionate, the older monk simply said, “My brother, I put that woman down an hour ago. It is you that are still carrying her.”
AJ Watson was born and raised in the Australian gold rush town of Ballarat. He is a Life Coach specialising in Health and Wellbeing. You can discover more of his story in the About AJ page on www.ajcoaching.com.au