How to treat your mind like a dog
I’m sure you’ve heard this simple, one word instruction before, either from someone else or in your own head.
Maybe you were trying to do something productive but got distracted by that FB post, or by the more exciting prospect of having a cup of tea or maybe spending some quality time with Netflix.
But focus skills aren’t just about learning, work or tasks you need to get done.
Training to intentionally direct your focus can determine the awesomeness of your whole life experience.
You might think – ‘Shit. I’m rubbish at focusing’.
But it’s not an ability you either have or you don’t.
Even those who are diagnosed with what’s labelled as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) are not unable to focus. They can be extremely focused – completely fixated. It’s just that they’re selectively focused on stuff that doesn’t fit in with what classrooms or society expect from them.
And back at school, you were told to focus but you were never taught how to focus.
So focus is an ability we all have. It’s a skill you can improve and learn to direct wherever you want.
It’s actually a simple decision of where to place your attention. With practice, this freedom of choice becomes more automatic.
So what will focus skills training allow you to do?
1. Be more in control of your thoughts and emotions…by not controlling them
Thoughts come up from the mind with or without your participation.
It’s just what the mind is there for – to offers us an infinite source of ideas.
Problem is, we often accept the ‘invitation’ to follow unhelpful thoughts around.
But you can choose which thoughts to follow. This doesn’t mean to resist or stop thoughts.
This doesn’t work, ‘cuz when you try to do that, you’re actually putting your attention on them even more, making them even bigger. You’re stuck in a vicious cycle.
But if you train your focus skills, you can allow the thoughts to pass by, without placing your attention on them.
You decide which ‘invitations’ to accept and which to decline.
When you acknowledge their invitation and their ‘right’ to be there, they simply move on without you having to fight.
So you get to be more in charge.
“What worries you, masters you.”
~ John Locke ~
2. Become the master of your mind
You gradually become freer and freer of the mind altogether. It continues bringing up thoughts but you react far less.
Slowly but surely your mind becomes naturally quieter. Like with any relationship, when you stop trying to control it, it will stop trying to control you.
It begins to follow you instead of you following it. It becomes your servant, waiting for your instructions.
It’s kind of like training a dog.
You might feel a bit uncomfortable at first telling it what to do – not wanting to upset it. But after a while you realise it happily takes on whatever you command. Your dog-mind loves and adores you and you know it’s the best friend you could ever have.
3. Be more unlimited
If you’re human, you’ve got imagination.
This means you have the ability to create any thought whenever you want.
Because essentially everything happens inside your perception, your mind doesn’t know the difference between what’s real and imagined.
This is key, ‘cuz it means that whatever thought you focus on, your mind accepts as real – as something that’s really there – and it responds accordingly.
For example, let’s say you focus your attention on a time when you felt confident. Your mind will automatically create more confident feelings in order to bring up this memory. So even though confidence was in your imaginary memory – it’s now being created in the present.
So these positive feelings are in fact always there inside you – as resources & potential of your imagination.
Once you’ve accessed these feeling, you can increase them even more.
Now let’s say you can’t think of any confident memories in your experience.
This makes no difference – ‘cuz you can still imagine what it would feel like to be confident. Or you can imagine what another confident person would be feeling – a role model or a even a superhero.
As long as you’re bringing it up in your mind, you’re automatically creating the resource.
SO IF YOUR IMAGINATION IS UNLIMITED – SO ARE YOU!
4. Be more accepting & let go of judgement
Now that you’re more in charge, you’re not so bothered anymore by challenging, external or internal events, thoughts or even people coming into your life.
You no longer feel threatened by them, ‘cuz you know you can allow them to be as they are – taking on what’s useful and letting go of what’s not.
You’ll also care less about what others think of you, ‘cuz you can simply move your attention away from them to yourself – minding your own business.
5. Be free of limiting beliefs
Your beliefs DRIVE EVERYTHING you do. And they’re simply the result of habitualy focusing on your interpretation of events. They’re just thoughts you focused on repetitively that have become automatic.
So let’s say you’ve had some experience. You focused on a particular aspect of it and gave it meaning out of your perspective at that time.
Your mind then ‘filtered’ the next experience through that memory and the meaning you had given it. This is ‘cuz it ‘efficiently’ looks for quick references for response – which may or may not be constructive to you.
After repeating this process a few times, your habit-thoughts became your beliefs.
Imagine you take a photo, using a particular filter that has a very specific effect. Now that you’ve got this special effect on, the next photos will also be filtered through it, so you continue getting same-styled images.
These images seem to be a true reflection of reality.
But if you just shift your focus from the filter to the camera, you could very easily remove it or change it – opening up wider possibilities and getting completely different pictures.
6. Be more of a creator & achieve your goals more easily.