Where’s Your REAL Focus?
There was a time that all I focused on was my weight. People who didn’t know me then often find this surprising. Looking back, I see it as a very unhealthy obsession rooted much deeper than simply the extra 30 – 40 pounds that attached themselves to me and seemed not to want to let go. There was a lot of confusion within me, a lot of masking my true feelings, a loneliness, a deep feeling of un-fulfillment. Old journals during those few years are filled with pages not so much about the confusion or un-fulfillment or loneliness but instead they are filled with lists of calorie counting, a recording of how ‘well’ I did or how ‘badly’ I did with eating that day and resolution after resolution of doing ‘better’ the next day. When I look back at those or even think of them, I am filled with so much compassion for myself at that time. My body image and my self worth were sorely out of whack. And I was putting myself through a lot of unnecessary torment. I couldn’t see that then. I see it very clearly now.
Are you focusing on the lack of what you want?
My focus was on what I didn’t want – the extra pounds – and my thoughts were filled with this ‘problem’. I did everything I knew to rid myself of it. I tried different diets, I exercised, I tracked everything I ate, I tried not thinking about it at all. These tactics worked to varying degrees for limited amounts of time. But my focus continued to be on those extra pounds that seemed to haunt me. I binge ate at times and then had periods when I followed a pretty healthy eating plan, but my weight didn’t seem to change. It was like my thoughts & my brain were stuck. I was deeply unhappy and I felt like I was failing.
Gradually, I began to shift my focus. I started looking more at some of those underlying issues and started exploring more about eating, food and the way I saw my body in general. I started reading books about personal development and I took some classes that allowed me to open up a bit about how I was thinking and feeling. This was a slow process.
A powerful decision to shift Focus
I remember when things REALLY shifted for me. I was doing student teaching as part of my Master’s Program. I remember that something finally clicked within me. I remember that I made a decision – a decision to stop. To stop torturing myself with those thoughts of failure and tracking and criticism and judgment of what my body looked like. I remember my decision to feel good – to ‘simply’ listen to my body and its signs and to accept my body from that place.
I can remember how this felt – I remember that I started feeding my body with respect and a sense of honoring it instead of worrying about the number of calories I was consuming. I remember learning to listen to my body – when it was hungry and when it was full, when it wanted exercise etc., with no regard to calorie intake. I began to trust my body and slowly, to appreciate it. And I began to listen to what felt GOOD – not what I ‘should’ do or what I was supposed to do. I started to feel liberated from those old thoughts.
Quite quickly, I started to feel different. Pounds didn’t shed off, but I felt different – more confident, lighter, more like myself. I can remember that feeling and in my mind’s eye can see the energy shift within me at that time – I can see myself walking differently, showing up differently. That period wasn’t the first in my life where weight was an issue for me – this was something that had started in my early 20s and continued on and off for 15 years or so. But after this shift and in the 15 years since, weight has not been an issue for me. And more importantly, my body is healthy & happy. She and I have a very close working relationship and a mutual respect because we want the same thing – to feel good and be healthy – and my thoughts and body work together toward that.
Living new thoughts & telling a different story
This is not a story about weight. This is a story about focus. I’m not offering a weight-loss solution. I’m offering an invitation for all of us to get VERY clear about what we’re focusing on. When we use our focus with awareness, we have such power. But so often we are focusing on what we don’t want – even when we think we’re focusing on what we want. Although I might have thought I was thinking about what I wanted (a lighter body), all I was really focusing on was what I didn’t want – the extra pounds – and what wasn’t working. This applies to anything you want more of in your life – love, connection, money, passion, peace, fulfillment, health, less crime, safety etc.
When I began focusing on what I REALLY wanted which was a healthy, happy body that felt good, I know that something fundamental in my thought process and brain changed. I didn’t talk about it with anyone because I thought it sounded a little crazy AND although I knew it & felt it, I had no evidence – except of course the fact that my body gradually reached its ideal weight with ease. Now when I read anything written by Esther & Jerry Hicks & the teachings of Abraham, I get confirmation of my experience. This happens too when I read books in the Neuroscience or Positive Psychology field like Positive Intelligence by Shirzad Chamine which discusses how we can change the ratio of using our brain power in a ‘positive’ way versus a ‘negative’ way (a huge over-simplification) and gives techniques to help us stay in the ‘positive’ space & experience more of what we want.
The possibilities of the solution
Albert Einstein said, No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. When we focus on the problem, we can only come so far. We are limited by the limited thinking of the problem. And our brains get stuck in that ‘lack’ track. When we FULLY let go of what we don’t want, and LIVE in what we do want, we are able to be in the mindset of a solution. Our brains can make new tracks as we stop resisting and begin allowing what we want. And then we can get more of what we want. You see?
You probably do see and you might even be saying…well, I know all that, Janette, but still I’m not experiencing what I want. If this is you, I get it. I really do. This is a process. Our culture is set upon us focusing on everything we don’t want. It’s set upon on seeing what we don’t have and striving for that and not being happy until we get it. It’s set upon us fighting and waging wars on what we don’t want – whether it’s the battle of shedding pounds, curing an illness, reducing crime, building a business, improving a relationship or improving our communities and the world in some way.
It’s time to take a new stance
My invitation to you is to take a new stance that will allow for a shift. What if we give up the battle? That doesn’t mean in any way that we sit and do nothing or that we deny things are not what they are. It means we focus purely and diligently on what we want and let the thoughts, words and actions come from THAT place. Believe me – this takes attention and practice and there are lots of different methods to achieve it. I shared my story with weight because even with that powerful experience, I am still practicing Focus in other areas of my life. It’s a powerful lesson and one that I know takes continuous mindful attention.But let’s just imagine for a moment what that might feel like. Think about a situation you would like to change now. Think briefly about the thoughts you usually have about this. How does this feel? If you experience any resistance or desire of not wanting it to be the way it is, you are not alone. It’s ok. Just observe. Now see if you can focus SOLELY on what you want – not from a place of lack but from a place of possibility, openness, creativity, curiosity. This might be a stretch for you and that’s ok too. Just see if you can get a glimpse and/or touch it briefly. Now, what might be possible for you if THIS is where your focus was all of the time? What might be different in your life from this place?
I invite you to experiment with Focus this month. Really notice where your focus is. Check in with yourself throughout the day and see where your thoughts happen to be and what you’re focusing on in that moment. Ask yourself, “What do I want?” Ask yourself, “What can I do to keep my focus here?” Observe, Play, Explore, Enjoy & Focus, Focus, Focus.