Focus on what you want, not what you don’t

I knew a 30-year-old man I’ll call George, who had a drinking and driving problem, like quite a few I’ve met in my recovery mentoring work. George stayed late and had far too much to drink at the pub.

However, the three-kilometre road home was straight and flat with no traffic at that time of night, so he decided to drive. There were no houses on that rural stretch and only one tree.

As he drove home he kept reminding himself that he must not run into that tree. You can guess the rest: he lost control and crashed into the only tree on his route.

George wanted to get home safely but he had focused on and what he didn’t want…and got it.

You’ve been there; I’ve been there. When I think about not eating the chocolate in the cupboard, I am more likely to indulge than if I focus on the tasks of productive and healthy living.

If you have to take regular medication, you are much more likely to remember it if you focus on building it into your daily routine, rather than on trying not to forget it. What you focus on gets planted in your subconscious.

If you find yourself focusing on what you don’t want, whether it be lack of money, loss of friends, illness or getting too fat, don’t be too hard on yourself.

You are bombarded daily with negative media stories and advice telling you what not to do and what disasters may follow if you ignore the advice.

The basic form of the advice is this: don’t (eat, breathe, drink, go, do) or you’ll (get cancer, asthma, ulcers, go to jail, become a drunk). A somewhat earlier version of focusing on the negative appeared with the “thou shalt nots” in the Ten Commandments.

Like most, you probably want to be a good person and live a good life. Unfortunately, if you focus on all the things you don’t want or shouldn’t do, life becomes very constricted.

You may be seen by others as a good person, but you know deep down you couldn’t possibly meet the requirements.

By focusing on what you don’t want, what you do want remains elusive and never seems to materialize.

I invite you to reflect on how much attention you pay to what you don’t want or shouldn’t do. Then for each of those things reflect on its opposite, what you do want or could do. Make this a habit. It can be very freeing and life enhancing.

It’s a recipe for living a more expanded life and leaving a more appreciated emotional legacy.

 

Dr. Neill is a Central-Island Registered Psychologist. You can reach him for an appointment at 250-752-8684 or through his website www.neillneill.com/contact.

 

 

 

Just Posted

West Coast Amateur in Port Alberni a success

Top overall winner, with a gross score of 140, was Derek Reid from Arbutus Ridge

ARTS AROUND: Last call for cruise ship vendors

Last cruise ship arrives in the Alberni Inlet on July 6

BIZ BEAT: Port Alberni businesses celebrate milestones

RE/MAX Mid-Island moving into new building on Johnston Road

Solda’s Family Restaurant celebrates 50 years in Port Alberni

Restaurant is currently up for sale to “the right buyer”

Cherry Creek, Beaver Creek imposes water restrictions

Stage 1 water restrictions now in effect

VIDEO: B.C. First Nation plans to launch legal challenge after Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, Premier John Horgan says he’ll continue to defend the B.C. coast

B.C. ‘struggling’ to meet needs of vulnerable youth in contracted care: auditor

Auditor general says youth in contracted residential services may not be getting support they need

Pair of B.C. cities crack Ashley Madison’s “Infidelity Hotlist”

Data from the website reveals Abbotsford and Kelowna hottest spots for cheaters

Life’s work of talented B.C. sculptor leads to leukemia

Former Salmon Arm resident warns of dangers of chemical contact

Billboard posted along B.C.’s Highway of Tears to remember missing and murdered Indigenous women

Billboards featuring Indigenous artwork to be placed in Surrey, Kamloops and near Prince George

Federal cabinet ministers visit Edmonton, Calgary, in wake of TMX approval

Natural Resources Minister Amarjeet Sohi is set to visit Trans Mountain Corp.’s terminal in Edmonton

B.C. municipality prepares to forbid overnight camping by homeless despite court ruling

While courts have ruled against blanket bans, Langley City is employing a site-by-site approach

B.C. auditor says Indigenous grad rate highest ever but education gaps exist

The percentage of Indigenous students graduating from B.C. public high schools has hit its highest level ever

Statistics Canada reports annual pace of inflation rises in May to 2.4%

Transportation prices gained 3.1 per cent as the cost of air transportation added 8.9 per cent

Most Read