What we focus on expands. Where our predominant thoughts lie, will be reflected in our outer world and experiences and it will affect our emotions and feelings. What we think about, drives our emotions. When our focus is on hardship, struggles, sadness, a difficult situation, it will fuel negative emotions and thoughts. Therefore the opposite is true. When we focus on good thoughts, good outcomes, optimism, these positive thoughts drives positive emotions, and make us feel great.
Yet in the midst of turmoil, it can be a difficult concept to understand and apply especially when it feels like you are consumed by a multitude of challenges. And I have found there is a fine line to this.
I believe that when you’re struggling it should be a focus but not to the point where it’s viewed as the whole picture. The struggle and pain you feel should be viewed as only a part of the picture. Focus on it enough to know that we must confront the struggle and feel the emotions in order to understand and process what’s happening. And from there we can then make decisions to move through it and recover.
If you allow the pain and the struggle to dominate your thinking and allow it to be the entire focus of your life then you’re not inviting anything else into the picture. ..just pain and suffering. When you focus entirely on your pain, then you’re ignoring other parts of your life that aren’t causing you any pain, other areas that are actually going really well for you.
Remember that in life, there are various areas that make up the whole picture; our careers, families, relationships, health, self, spirituality etc. Despite how it may seem, it’s not all or nothing. Whilst we may feel intense pain and struggle in one or two area of our lives, while it might feel all consuming, there are other parts of our lives that don’t emanate these intense feelings; where life is actually ok. Accept and give focus to the intensity of your pain, as for the purpose of wanting to address it, but certainly not to the point where you’re not giving focus to the other parts of your life that is wonderful, fulfilling and joyful.
Instead, try focusing largely on recovery, gratitude, on the blessings you have and where you want to be and how you want to feel. Focus on the areas of your life that you’re enjoying, feeling at peace with and are grateful for.
Focusing on these gives you more opportunities for these blessings to show up in your life. It helps you to know and believe that your current struggles are not permanent, that it’s only one part of the bigger picture.
While I was often experiencing intense pain, through my own journey to recovery; whilst I felt that it was at the time a large part of my life, I did have other things I could focus on; I put myself through university, I sought professional counselling, I read many books and I did a lot of self-reflection and perhaps the biggest factor was my ability to focus on the end result as I wanted my life to be. I had plenty of other things to focus on, so that I didn’t allow the sole focus of my life and my thinking to be dominated by the intensity of the pain I felt dealing with my many personal issues. And just as important I didn’t believe for a second that my struggles were the entirety of my life. I knew that they were only a portion of my life.
My focus was recovery, on understanding my pain and believing there was an end to it. My focus was on building a life where pain wasn’t the dominating experience. It was on living a life beyond the childhood abuse, where it didn’t dictate my future, or the future of my family, my children and my relationships.
Had I focused on the pain, the suffering and at times the acute feeling of hopelessness, I might never have recovered and I suspect life for me now would be very different.
So where is your focus? Is it entirely on your struggles, challenges, pain and obstacles? If it is, there is surely where those feelings will continue to expand and you’ll experience further intensity of those feelings. Shift your focus to the abundance of your life, to the place where you want to go; to the place where you feel more joy, particularly in the area you may currently be struggling with.
For where your focus is, there you will go.