You get what you focus on
This isn’t a myth, it’s a real thing.
Neuroscience has shown that your brain changes based on what you focus on and the process is attributed to a bit of your brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS). The RAS’s job is to alert you to things you need to pay attention to in the world and it’s based on what your focus is.
Let me give you an example of the RAS at work…
I recently had to buy a new car. I’d never noticed them before, but having done a bit of research, I decided the Nissan X-Trail was the car for me. And once I’d made that decision, I saw LOADS of them out on the road. It was like every second car was a Nissan X-trail.
Experienced something similar yourself?
Your RAS works like that with everything you focus on, including what you believe about yourself, others and the world in general.
It alerts you to the things that match your focus and helps you ignore what doesn’t.
It’s like applying a filter to your experience.
Some things are highlighted and others are greyed out.
This filtering process impacts how you act and react.
For example (sweeping generalisations coming up):
Optimists are focused on the positive.
Being focused on the good stuff, they tend to be alert for and then act on opportunities, expecting the best outcome. At least some of their actions are likely to pay off, which reinforces their positive view. And being focused on the positive things, they are likely to sweep aside the things that didn’t work out.
Pessimists on the other hand are focused on the negative.
Being focused on the negative, they may not see, or they may discount opportunities because they expect the worst. They are less likely to take committed action (why bother when it’s not going to work). This leaves them with fewer opportunities for success which reinforces and fuels their negative view of the world.
Both types perceive what they already believe, which impacts how they behave and the results they get. They end up getting what they were focused on.
So if you want to change your world for the better, have a look at what you’re focusing on. What beliefs do you have that are filtering your experience? What useful experience is being ignored or swept aside as a result?
If you feel you lack self-confidence, or you feel like an imposter, your focus is likely to be on the things you don't think you can do…which means you’re unlikely to notice the things you can do, or have done.
If you're anxious and focusing on all the things you may not be able to cope with or that may go wrong…you are less likely to notice the things that didn’t turn out so bad after all or the things that you coped with when they did.
If you feel that everything is out of control, you won’t notice all the things that you can control.
In all of these cases, how differently would you feel and act if you started to focus on and notice all the things you are capable of, what you can do, the good things you have done and what you can control?
And if you decide to change your focus and get a different result, you need to
Make sure you focus on what you WANT
I’d like you for a moment to not think of a pink elephant.
What are you thinking of?
A pink elephant.
Why? – because your brain can’t process a negative.
If you try and think of something you don’t want, you have to think of what you don’t want first, to be able to not think of it, so your focus is actually on the thing you don’t want!
So when you have a goal, or something you want to focus on, make sure you phrase it so that the thing in your head that you’re focusing on is what you WANT and not what you DON’T want.
For example, focus on “I’ll be fine” rather than “I’m not going to fail”
Switch your focus once and it’ll help you in the moment.
Maintain your focus on doing that and you’ll eventually re-programme your mind, switch your default focus and get what you really want!
And if you want to see an excellent example of the power of getting what you focus on, check out this video.
Book a free call if you’d like to explore how I can help you switch your focus and get what you want.