And no, this is not just a Star Wars quote! When you are new to driving a car and your eyes stray off to the side of the road, the car tends to follow. When we focus on our bad moods, they tend to get worse. And when we focus on our failures, we often forget that we have also had successes. Your reality is crafted by all that you think, do, and feel. You may not be able to control the world around you, but you get to control how you are in the world.
I’m not going to tell you that if you think happy thoughts you will be pulled out of abject poverty. Or that if you just visualize the love you want in your life it will appear like magic. Or that you can think away your illnesses or if you concentrate hard enough, nothing bad will ever catch you by surprise again. It doesn’t work like that, and we all know it.
I will tell you, however, that if you continue to focus on the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad things in your life, you will not be inviting change and you are likely to continue in a sour mood, or worse.
When we start to shift our focus, when we look up and catch a blue sky and remember how to move the muscles in our face in the way that resembles a smile, when we start to plan for good times again, we begin to shift our mindset from the negative to the positive. This change may take time for you, it won’t happen over night. You’ll need to keep looking for the good, finding the happiness in your every-day events. Things like seeing the first robin of spring. Or the first tree tied to a roof for the holidays. Or you nieces first steps. Or the last paper marked for the course. Or that the last donut in the box left for you was you favourite. Or whatever kindness or happiness you can pull from the mundane in your life.
Here are a few tidbits to help:
1) Surround yourself with people who encourage you. Community is so very important to our survival. We know we couldn’t live in cities without the work that our fellow city-dwellers do, from keeping the plumbing running, to traffic lights, policies, and grocery chains. But beyond the macro, having close friends who will positively influence your life can’t help but increase your focus on the good. Whether it’s by digital impressions, the way they carry themselves on social media, or your in person interactions, having those key friendships with other positive-focused mates will guarantee you a better outlook.
2) Believe there is good in the world. Be the good. Surrounding ourselves with positive-minded people is wonderful, AND we need to emanate the same sort of positivity that we are seeing from them. Positive people attract other positive people and if we want them to stick around, we need to be the sort of person that they will continue to want around. Sure, we all have our bad days, and there is room for that in a healthy friendship. And, we want to be the good that we are seeing in the world!
3) Gratitude. Gratitude. Gratitude. If it feels like I’ve been pushing this at you a lot lately, it’s because I truly believe it works. I am grateful for so much in my life, from the slippers I got as a gift that keep my toes warm every day, to the occasional coffee my partner makes me in the morning, to the very basics of having a roof over my head, food for my belly, fresh water when I turn on the tap, and this ridiculously advanced technology I am typing away at right this moment. Pause, breathe, and think about the simple things that you are grateful for, and work your way out to the more complex. The more you focus on what you are thankful for, the more you will see in your life TO be thankful for, or put another way, what you appreciate appreciates.
4) Affirmations. You knew these would come up at some point here! Write them down, pin them on the wall, post them on the fridge, the mirror, the visor in your car. Keep them in your sights wherever you have felt yourself slipping back into a negative mindset. If you’re new to affirmations, check out this blog Affirmations and how to use them. The trick to affirmations it to actually read them, not just SEE them, but to let your eyes rest on the words and think them in your mind or speak them out loud. We often read an affirmation that says something like “I am worthy” and agree intellectually, but you also need to believe it is true about yourself on an emotional and physical level. What are you worthy of? Abundance? Nourishment? Celebration? Patience? There are so very many ways to be worthy and you are worthy of them all. Self-acceptance is a whole lot of work, and affirmations can start you on that journey. Where your focus goes, your energy flows!
5) Focus only on what you can control. Life is full of variables. If we tried to control for all of them in any given situation we’d be exhausted. But we’d also realize, there are just too many things outside of our control. Knowing what you can and cannot control is an exercise in humility. We may think very highly of ourselves and think there is more in our power, but being realistic is a better approach. One tip I came across recently was to write down all the parts of a situation that you are worried or anxious about and then cross out the things you cannot control. What you are left with is what is within your reach, and you can focus on them. Having back up plans is another way to give yourself more control — you plan a hike with a friend, but if it rains, you have already planned to watch a movie together at their house. This sort of planning ahead can help you avoid the negativity that comes with set-backs.
6) Positive language. This one is harder than it sounds. The hard part is catching yourself before you say it. Flipping the narrative from one of deficit to one of growth is something that can help. Instead of saying “I didn’t get…” you can say “Next time I will…” or “I can’t do..” becomes “what is my opportunity to learn…” Our words can work on our mindset like magic spells. There’s a great quote by Henry Ford that I use in so many places, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you are right”. If you believe you will fail, you are more likely to than if you believe you’ll succeed. Take the chance to say good things to yourself and others whenever you can and your outlook will start to turn upwards — and the more you do it, the easier it will become.
Like an archer with an arrow, what you focus on becomes your reality. So if your goal is to succeed, you’ve got to keep your eye on the prize, and not let negative influences get you down. Once you know what you want, you can begin to take the steps to reach your goal and look onward to your future! If you’re still feeling stuck, reach out to me and we can figure this out together.