“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.” – Tony Robbins
Keeping your attention (focusing) on what is most important in your life is one of the essential ingredients to success. It is incredible how the human mind always find a way to create or attract more of what it focuses on.
All external experiences we face in our life (when we see, hear, touch, smell or taste something from the environment) are filtered. These filters include our beliefs, values, memories, decisions, the language we speak, how we sort, store, and retrieve information, our strategies for making decisions and so on. They have 3 functions:
These filters delete the information as it comes in. In other words, we do not perceive things out of our focus. As we walk through a room, we only notice a few of the details that hit our eyes. This deletion process happens so automatically, so quickly, and so unconsciously, that we don’t even notice it. Whatever our beliefs, values, decisions, memories, and other filters are set up to delete, it just happens. For instance, we tend to delete whatever doesn’t agree with what we believe.
These filters also distort what comes in. There are many ways in which this could happen, for example, distorting in order to make what’s coming in confirm what we already believe, value, and so on. Or, we might distort what comes in by adding something that really isn’t there, or create some other misperception so that the input, the experience, conforms with our current beliefs and values. This distortion could be either harmful or beneficial (depending on whether it is creating or attracting what we want, or not).
The third thing these filters do is create generalizations. Generalizations are very useful. If we didn’t make generalizations, we’d have to re-learn what a door is and how to open it every time we came to one. Generalizations can be negative, though, when they cause us to fail to see the differences that make something unique, causing us to assume that a thing is exactly the same as something else that’s in the same general class, but which actually has significant differences. If you had a bad experience with a learning situation, it would be very limiting if you generalized this to include all learning situations.
The importance of these filters is that they determine what is available for you to focus on. If you delete all information, all ideas, all beliefs, all strategies, all data, about success, you can’t focus on it. If you delete the possibilities in a situation, there will be no possibilities. But if you let these things in, they’re available for you to focus on and create in your life. So you can see that if you could consciously choose what to delete or to keep, what distortions and which generalizations you are applying, you’d have a distinct advantage in creating what you want in life. That is because after this filtering process, what lasts is your perception of reality. So, what we perceive, or what we focus on, generates our emotions, plus all your other internal states (such as motivation, satisfaction, or curiosity, for instance). And depending on how we feel (our internal states) we find or lack motivation to take action toward our goals, to create or attract the results we want in life.
Personally, I have been struggling with 2 big challenges in my life:
Challenge #1: There are so many things I want to achieve. So many things to focus on. Sometimes you can move toward a goal, but the actions taken to go in this direction are a step back to another goal you may have in another area of your life.
So, to cease this lack of focus, I’m doing an exercise called hierarchy of values. Values are anything important to me, in all areas of my life. They are important because I care about them and invest my time on them. They make me feel happy, fulfilled.
This exercise consists in listing all my values and compare each other asking “If I could have value A, but not value B, would that work?”. The idea is to compare all values with each other, and put numbers on the side of each one to define its hierarchy of importance. Afterwards, I list at least three reasons why each value is important, and try to find if there are conflicts between pairs of values: in other words, if moving toward one of the values would be a step back to another. Finally, having thought about all the reasons why those values are important and figured out the conflicts (also making the necessary arrangements on the hierarchy after the insights achieved doing this final part of the exercise) I have a blueprint of what to focus on and direct my actions, in order of importance.
Challenge #2: Changing itself is not easy. Even knowing what I want, after living so many years of my life reinforcing certain thought patterns it becomes hard to adopt a new mindset, to take different actions.
We tend to feel unsafe when we need to act out of our comfort zone. When we are trying to move toward goals that require us to think and act differently. It automatically arouses fear. But it is a normal process for everyone. And becoming aware of what our values are, what our beliefs are, how our filtering process is generating our perceived reality, we can start questioning ourselves why we are doing the things in this way if it is showing not to be the most resourceful one. In other words, what do we need to adjust in our beliefs and filters in order to focus on what we want and achieve the results desired for our life?
This question I’m working on everyday, by doing a deep introspection, becoming aware of the process that generates my perception of reality the moment I’m having my experiences of life.
I also found meditation to be really helpful in this regards. It enhances my concentration and focus, makes me become more present to the moment and be aware of what I’m feeling and why you I’m feeling it.
I would love to hear about your challenges and your strategies to cope with them.
This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 day freedom plan blog challenge day 1