We Get What We Focus On

Posted by: Jo Banks

Date: 31-08-2016

Do you consistently focus on the positives of a person/situation or the negatives?


In my post, ‘I’ll be happy when’ I talked about the fact that in life, we get what we focus on, without fail. If we focus on the negatives about a person or a situation, then that’s what we’ll perceive to be true.  We’ll see all the negative things associated with that person or thing, often blocking out/totally ignoring the positives.  On the reverse, if we focus on the positive, on what’s going right and what else we can do to make our lives better or the good points about a person, then that’s what we’ll experience.


Where we place our focus affects our wellbeing and our effective problem solving.  Focussing on all the problems that you have in your life and how unfortunate you are or how bad you consider a person to be, affects your well-being and your ability to be able to deal with problems effectively. The important thing to note here is that what we focus on is a choice.  There are always at least two ways of looking at something, and it’s up to us to actively choose whether we see things in a positive or negative way.  We don’t have to leave it to our subconscious to decide, based on old, outdated filters and learned behaviours programmed into us as we grew up.  If you were brought up in a positive household, it's likely that you tend to view things in a positive way and vice versa.


How we view a situation/person/the world in general, absolutely affects us, our behaviours/actions and whether we attain positive or negative outcomes. 


There’s a great story that illustrates this point: 


A man who lived on a small island decided to take a short boat ride over to the mainland.  He said to the boatman, “I’ve heard that the people on the mainland are very kind, lovely people who are incredibly helpful.  Is that true?” The boatman replied, “If that’s what you think, then that’s what you’ll find”.  A second man also decided to leave the island and visit the mainland for the first time, “He said to the boatman, “I’ve heard that the people on the mainland are nasty, unfriendly, unhelpful people.  Is that true?”  The boatman replied, “If that’s what you think, then that’s what you’ll find."


Focus on positives


Instead of letting your subconscious control you, consciously/actively choose to see what positives there are in a situation/person.  There’s always at least one.  However, if you're in a negative state of mind, you’ll usually choose to ignore it and continue with your old, programmed, negative emotions and associations.  We have a need to be consistent with our view of ourselves and the world and, therefore, if we think something/someone is bad/negative/unhelpful, etc., we’ll actively seek out all the negative references we can to back up our way of thinking … Whether it’s true or not!


An excellent example of this is when I recently found out that someone was using my material and presenting it as their own.  Whilst I was incredibly upset about it at first, when I calmed down and started to dig really deep and think what could be good about the situation, I came up with the following points:


  1. My work is that good that other people want to steal it!
  2. At least that person was using my work (that’s a loose one, I’m aware of that!)
  3. The person was (hopefully) making a positive difference to the people he was teaching my stuff to


Now don’t get me wrong, it took quite a bit of soul searching to come up with those three things.  However, doing the exercise stopped my spiralling negative emotions that would usually adversely affect my thoughts, feelings and eventually my behaviour which would impact everyone around me.  Don't get me wrong that doesn't mean that I didn't deal with the situation, of course, I did, but it allowed me to manage it effectively and positively without it negatively affecting my whole life.


The next time you find yourself facing an adverse situation, ask yourself, "What is positive about this situation?” If you can’t think of anything, ask yourself, “If I really wanted to see something positive, what would it be?” Often rephrasing a question will help you come up with an answer.


If you need help refocussing your life, get in touch for a free, no-obligation conversation on how we can help.  Alternatively, sign up to our newsletter to receive regular updates, straight to your inbox.

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