I used to be a very good focuser. True, I focused on the wrong thing, but still I was a very good focuser. By default, we focus on what is active within us, for me that was pain, lots of pain. Giving my attention to what was hurting me, what had hurt me, and I was, no surprise, continuing to feel hurt.
After my daughter was born and I chose to actively care for her in the first few years, I learned to focus in this moment, to be really present now. That little bundle of life made it so easy for me to feel good. As a result, I was so open to life, so appreciative of life that I have no words to describe that state. When I started working again, my energy got mingled up again with that of others, and somewhere along the way old pain was activated and in my misconception I intently focused on it in order to work through it. I wanted nothing more than to move through the pain, but as I focused on it I just added to it. And I added so much that my body said, ‘enough!’ I got ill. In an ingenious way, my body short circuited my focusing mechanisms. I was unable to hold a thought for more than a two to five seconds. Had trouble processing language. And at some days could not even focus my eyes. Although it led to some weird scenes in our home, and made life overly complicated in some areas, what it mainly did was to get my focus off the pain I had kept activating. What happened then was that I started feeling better, and I noticed that although I didn’t have a long enough attention span for words and thoughts, I did have an amazing attention span for feeling good. And I learned to focus on that, and once I learned that, things got better and better.
Once my body healed, I got part of my focus back. And In the past years, through contrast, I discovered that there are still areas where my focus is directed by default and that I can still activate old pain by default. And that when I am not aware of that or when the level of pain is very high very quickly, when I’m in too deep and cannot easily redirect my focus anymore, I can stop the momentum by either taking my mind off of it or play the game ‘Wouldn’t it be great if’ and discover what I want to learn from this experience.
The ‘wouldn’t it be great if’ game brings to the table a different kind of energy. It helps you move through the pain in a constructive way and creates an upward spiral, where you focus your attention on potential scenarios that feel better. I usually do the game writing, because writing helps me focus, but I disovered that just sitting with you eyes closed is a great way too. For me, the first thing to write down is always the hardest, because it is hard to imagine feeling great at a low point. So what I do is that I take the word great in the broadest sense possible, most often it is just that which would give me relief, and then once I start new things keep popping up and soon I get into a flow. And then very easily, I am focusing on the best possible outcome and from that feeling point, I just know how to make that work.
While writing this, I can see how I used this amazing tool in a very limited way. I think you can literally use it on any topic that feels off in whatever way that may be. The trick of course is recognizing something is feeling off, because anything that is default feels normal. For me, I’m coming to the point that when I am not feeling high, I know something is off. It may take some time for me to notice and then it may even take longer for me to know what to do, even though I have some great tools at hand, but that’s part of the learning process.
Three weeks ago, our lives changed as my loving life partner started his PhD adventure next to running his own business. In researching the feasability of this new chapter, we worked out a grueling schedule that allows him to do what he wants to do. He gets up at 5.30 am, goes to bed 17 hours later and in between manages work, study, family and free time. It is doable, but there is very little wiggle room.
As my husband started working his hours and doing everything else we set out for him to do, I was the one who started feeling overwhelmed, until I got so reluctant that I just wanted to sit in a chair and do nothing. So I sat in a chair and did nothing. That helped. Then there was the thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could sit here all day.’ And then, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I wouldn’t feel rushed, if I could do things my way, if I could live my life in my own rhythm.’ And then the light bulb went on, I had unconsciously added a few notches to my step, because I was feeling guilt for not doing as much as he is doing, for feeling that I am not contributing evenly. And then another light bulb went on, just because he is doing his crazy thing doesn’t mean I have to follow suit. He is doing his thing, I need to do my thing. Then things may be distributed differently, but they are distributed evenly. We are all different. We all have different drives, different rhythms, different energy management systems. What my husband and I share is that we both want to live our best life and we want that for each other too, but the way we go about it is completely different, because we are completely different.
This piece of clarity has given me the freedom to go my way and focus on the things that feel good to me. And this in turn helps me to focus. Not having been able to focus on logical process has created in me the awareness that I really, really, really love to be able to zoom in on something and hold it in my attention for a prolonged period of time. It is such an amazing ability. I missed that a lot. Having focused on either the pain or the contrast for most of my life has sparked the desired to just focus on the other end of the spectrum, to focus on the things that work for me and give me joy, to focus on the appreciation in this moment, and the next and the next, which will, undoubtedly, attract into my life more of the good things that resonate with me. Wouldn’t it be great if I resonated with ‘ease’, if things flowed into my life easily that added to my joy and appreciation. Wouldn’t that be great?
photo by Ove Tøpfer