How to Choose What to Focus On Right Now

pablo-14A well trained mind can choose what it focuses on. Your mind can learn to pay attention (on purpose) to something very unsettling and let anxiety naturally unfold. You can learn to notice anxiety and let it come and go without judging, evaluating, or running from it.

Imagine observing, noticing, and paying attention to uncomfortable sensations, images, perceptions, and thoughts without reacting whatsoever. There is no effort to get rid of a thought. There is just the intention to “be” right here, right now in this moment. This is how you free your mind. It’s how you free your life from the chains of anxiety and OCD.

I notice new clients often wearing rubber bands on their wrists. I ask what it’s for and they tell me a former therapist or a book they’re reading suggested that when they have an unwanted thought to snap the rubber band and say, “Stop.” I ask them to throw the rubber band away. People tell me they’ve been told to picture a stop sign. I tell them to picture a green light.

If your intention is to stop an unwanted thought or sensation then the suffering will only continue. When having an unwanted thought it’s best to say, “There’s my worry. Good, I want this worrisome thought. I need the practice.” “There’s that sensation I don’t like. Good. I want this feeling. I need the practice.”

You aren’t the creator of your thoughts. You’re the creator of your experience. How you react to an unwanted intrusive thought determines how you will experience life. Your thoughts don’t define you. What defines you is how you react to something you can’t control.

You can’t control your thoughts. You can control how you react to them. Be a caring observer of your thoughts but don’t try to detach from them. Embrace the opportunity for practice. What we practice we get good at. Practice makes progress.

This is day 24 of a 30 day challenge. When you become aware of a thought that makes you uncomfortable say “Good there’s that thought. I want this thought. I need the practice.”

2 thoughts on “How to Choose What to Focus On Right Now”

  1. That’s great advice- it’s like yoga. You try to focus on your breath and a million thoughts keep running through your mind and you don’t judge- you just keep coming back to your breath and say I’ll try again.

  2. Such good advice and a reminder of the work that needs to be done by me!

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