Check your attention

Where is it?

Do you know where your attention is focused in your life? Does it seem like you’re all over the place? Like you’re not focused because there are too many things vying for your attention?

While this is a normal experience, it doesn’t have to be yours if you don’t want it to be.

Like willpower, we have a limited amount of attention to spend during a day or a week. When we’re not intentional about where we spend our attention, we may be wasting it. 

We may think we’re focusing on certain things, but “other” things are really getting our attention instead. We want to be aware of this so we can refocus on what’s really important to us.

Let’s say we have 100 units of attention for one day. Where do we want to spend those units on purpose during our day?

To find out where we’re currently spending our attention, we can make a list of things that we’re giving our attention to. Think about the things that are getting your attention, that demand your attention, or things that you want to be giving attention to but aren’t. 

You’ll see things that are getting your attention and you may notice areas where you’re neglecting to give the attention that you want to. 

You may also notice areas where you’re giving so much of your attention to but you don’t actually want to be paying that much attention to—because you’re sacrificing other areas that you actually want to pay attention to. 

For example, in the past, I used to think about relationships a lot and focus on what wasn’t going right in them and how I could make things better or control things in a way where I could feel good and be happy. But I wasn’t paying enough attention to other parts of my life where I actually had more control. And everything just spiraled downward because I was focusing my attention on things that I didn’t have control over and couldn’t actually change. 

What if I had used all that mental energy and attention on taking better care of myself, or creating opportunities and experiences, or finding other options in my life instead?

This is not to say that our attention should never waver. It does and it will because we have human brains. We just get to decide what we want to focus more or less of our attention on during our days. As it relates to self-care, this can serve us well. 

Now I practice focusing my attention on purpose on what’s valuable to me and where I want to create shifts or changes in my life that can move me forward. I focus attention on taking care of myself in the myriad ways that self-care encompasses. I ruminate less on what I think isn’t going well and focus more on what IS going well—and also on expanding what I think is possible in my life and what thoughts I want to have instead, on purpose. 

Your turn: What are the things that you give your attention to that energize you? What are the things that drag your attention away and de-energize you? What do you SAY that you value in your life? Does where you spend your attention reflect this? How can you be more intentional about where you focus your attention on things that move you and your life forward?

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Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.

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