When it comes to making changes to our habits and brain patterns, it can be easy to just focus on what we want to stop doing. When we do that, what happens is that is where we focus our brains, energy and time. I think this is where a lot of the positive vibes only people come from – they don’t want to be giving air time to the things they do not want in case they jinx it and make it all come through (waves at everyone who read The Secret back in the day).
The problem is, it is really hard to stop thinking a thought. If I told you to stop thinking about a train wearing a tutu, you'd probably get a really good picture in your mind rather than not thinking about one at all. Is the skirt stretching over the rear wheels, or is it around the carriage? Is the teaching net, or is it jewelled? Is the train wanting to do ballet? Or is it trying to keep to the timetable? If I told you to stop thinking about that now, how easy is it to do?
When we focus on something that we've made very elaborate in our brains, it is very hard to let it go. And this is what we do with a lot of the stories we have written about ourselves.
Choosing to focus on what we want more of does not have to be toxic positivity; it can be a strategy we can practise in our daily lives to move more to what we want with gentle, incremental steps. It isn't just fantasy; it is a practical skill that enables us to make our days more enjoyable. And when we add more joy to our days, we are more likely to stick with it and make it a sustainable part of our lives.
So, for example, what if you focused on wanting to learn better ways to communicate rather than that time that you got grumpy and sarcastic even though you've apologised 1000 times? What if you decided to focus on how much you love your friends rather than how you can make the right move to secure that date? What if you decided to focus on becoming a person on your team who fights for inclusivity rather than thinking about that e-mail that you dropped the ball on? What if you were able to humanise the fact that you will make mistakes, and that doesn't make you a terrible person? Each time we do this, we remind our brain that another way is possible.
It's very natural to highlight the things which feel like they have gone wrong, Which is why it's very important to make noticing what else is also true an active choice.
Give your energy to the things that you want more of, and your brain will begin to look for ways to turn these pipe dreams into possibilities for you.
It is a practice. And one you can begin today.