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It’s all about where you focus

Last week I was driving to work through glorious countryside, a golden sun rising across dewy hills.  I stopped to take a sharp right turn up a steep hill and shifted into first gear, which crunched a bit. It was only when I tried to reverse to park that I realised my gears were stuck, completely stuck, in first.

But then help came; help parking, a lift home, help getting the car to the garage, help finding a rental, then a new car. Instead of the whole experience feeling stressful, I felt held, supported and cared for.

If I had focused on the incoming school buses, the other parents waiting, the torrential rain just I was trying to see if I could shift the gears, the extra,  unwanted, unexpected expense, the time spent sorting out cars, I would have experienced the whole event very differently.

Both stories about the event could be ‘true’, but I decided where I was going to put my attention and that made all the difference.

Albert Ellis, father of cognitive psychology, says it isn’t what happens to us that makes us miserable, but what we think about it.  Whilst I don’t think holds true things like grief and abuse, I do think, for things like this, it is.  I think it is something I have learned to do and I think meditation helps me notice what I am thinking, which then allows me to change it.

  1.  Notice how you are feeling. Use your body to give you information eg heart rate, breathing, tension
  2.  This will help you notice what you are thinking.  Take a few breaths and watch your thoughts
  3.  Decide if the thoughts are helpful (eg, if they are telling you to get away from a dangerous situation – they are helpful!)
  4.  If they are helpful, act on them
  5.  If they are not helpful because they aren’t solving the problem or are causing you stress, then look around for something positive to focus on instead
  6.  The positive could be in the outside world; other people, nature, weather, your warm coat, your phone, or it could be inside you; your health, your feet standing firmly on the ground
  7.  The more you focus on either solving the problem or something positive, the calmer you will feel.

I’ve been practicing it a long time so when the car broke down, focusing on the positive just happened automatically and I’m glad it did.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control what we focus on much more.

[Thank you Jon Lydon for the image]

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Thanks for being here.



Julie Leoni

Julie Leoni

Coach, author, podcaster, facilitator, Yoga and psychology teacher, learner

I have over 30 years of experience and qualification in various therapeutic and meditation/mindfulness based approaches. I work with change. Some changes we chose, others happen to us.  Sometimes we know we want to change but don't know how. Sometimes we don't want to change but external events or people are forcing us to change. The menopause, children leaving home, the end of a relationship or job, becoming a parent, coming out, bereavement are just some of the personal changes I support people with. I also work with people who want to make changes to their life and wider world in response to social issues such as Covid, the climate crisis and racial, sexual and gender inequalities. Times are changing whether we want them to or not and we need to be nimble, agile, curious and open in order to part of the new story emerging. Work with me to get clear on what matters to you, what makes your heart sing and what kind of future you want for yourself and those you love. It is possible to live differently, get in touch to explore how.

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