Where is your focus of attention?

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Sarah Parker

Change coach, therapist, human being, and founder of Well of Being.

When I was unwell recently with gastroenteritis, I noticed that I didn’t experience hay fever as severely as I had previously. I was telling Brian, my husband.

“Well,” he said, “My Granddad always said the best cure for toothache is tight-fitting shoes”.

There is such wisdom in his granddad’s words because, whilst I was not fortunate to meet his Granddad, what I believe he was pointing to, was the idea that we focus on one thing at a time, so if we are focused on the pain of tight shoes, we are not thinking about the toothache. Just as while my attention was on feeling poorly from the gastroenteritis, I was no longer focused on the hay fever, so it didn’t impact on my day so much.

Now, I’m certainly not advocating that we swap one pain for another, or one illness for another, but I DO believe we experience more deeply that which we place our attention on.

Often, we try to distract from pain and suffering, which works to some extent, for sure, but it’s hard work and often takes us away from living life fully and on our terms. Distraction can feel a bit like running away without daring to look back to see how close whatever we are running from is to us. We often remain anxious and fearful even when we are distracting.

Learning to focus our attention is key. When we actively focus our attention on life in the present, we are choosing where we look, what we do, rather than running away because there seems no other way. When we focus our attention, we are staying in life, we are actively taking charge of what we can control, we are grounding ourselves in the reality of the moment we are in, the only moment where we can take action, and the moment where our bodies are.

Our minds are like time travellers, and our bodies remain constantly in the present moment. When our mind and our body are focused in the same space, we create a deeper connection between them, which allows us to consider what is important in that moment and take action. We can make decisions and act on those decisions to create change, we can actively focus on life and living, on what is meaningful and important to us, rather than running away or avoiding.

When we make space for what we notice in the moment, without distracting, we no longer need to run away and we can actively pay attention to that which we choose. I’m not sure paying attention to tight shoes would be my preferred focus, but imagine being able to focus on work, family, fun, even paying the bills, even when tricky emotions are around. That seems like living life fully on our terms.

With July love. Sarah x

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