I recently read a beautiful book by Adam Robinson, called An Invitation To The Great Game. He has this lovely line that I’m finding very helpful at the moment.
“Your attention should always be focused either on the task at hand or on Others.”
This is a really good mantra to keep in mind whenever you’re experiencing negative emotion—hopelessness, frustration, fear, sadness, irritability or isolation. It’s not that we can prevent these feelings from arising and, in fact, it’s completely natural and good that they do. But what we can do, is to re-direct our attention. As Tony Robbins says, “Where focus goes, energy flows.” Adam recommends that we shift the spotlight of attention away from ourselves (and how totally rotten we feel) and onto either someone else or the task at hand. Both of these strategies can be equally as effective but often one is more appropriate than the other.
There have been several moments over the last few days when I have literally been terrified and I haven’t spoken to anyone who hasn’t also experienced fairly high levels of distress. So this is what we do. We either offer help, love or compassion to someone else or focus myopically on the most important thing we’re doing right now.
We could even go a step further and prepare a little arsenal of Attention Directors to have on standby. Let’s say, 3 ways you can focus on others and 3 tasks that you can give your full attention. Is there someone you know is alone who you could call? Could you brainstorm ideas with a friend who is currently reassessing their options? Or could you brush and walk your dog before giving them the best tickles in town on the sofa?
And what could you work on? Could you spend a little time mastering Crow pose? Write the first chapter of your dystopian, science fiction novel? Or take the time to plan the absolute perfect date night, right down to the smallest detail, for the moment we return to regular programming?
The essential idea is that you find of something that is more attractive for your mind to focus on than your current fears and preoccupations. And the options really are only limited by your imagination.
Let me know if this works for you too!