May 29

What You Focus Your Attention on Always Grows

Tag: Life Purpose and Self Expression,Personal GrowthNeill Gibson @ 3:07 pm

A Preference, not a Judgment

In my last post I went off a little bit on “moralistic dogmatism” and I’d like to make sure that you were left with the wrong impression. You see, I’m not against moralistic dogmatism. I just found that moralistic dogmatism didn’t seem to work very well as a tool for creating the kind of life or the kind of world I want to experience.

Coming of age in the late 60s I found myself drawn to the anti-this an anti-that movements. It made sense to me to be against war, poverty, the military-industrial complex, fascism, and well, all of those things that me and my buddies were so righteously indignant about.

What You Focus Your Attention on Grows

It took me a little while, and reading a number of books, to get the idea that “what you resist persists.” But one thing that really helped this hit home was when I heard a guy named Marshall Rosenberg sing a song about how “you can’t do it don’t.”

I started listening for how often people express themselves in the negative: what they don’t want, what they’re against, what they don’t like, what they want to make stop, etc.

To put a fine point on it, Rosenberg then tells a story about a woman who’s tired of spending nights home alone while the husband works late. So she screws up her courage and tells him in her best ultimatum voice, “I don’t want you staying so late at the office!” So what does he do? He joins a bowling league.

That’s the problem with having your attention focused on what you don’t want. If you’re not clear about what you do want, it leaves the door wide open for other things that you don’t want to wander in.

Now, one of the things I’ve figured out along the way is that people are totally self-serving. That’s not a judgment, it’s actually a result of our genetic coding to make sure that we get everything we need to survive, thrive, and multiply. And doesn’t it make sense that that’s more likely to happen if you are moving toward what you do want rather than pushing against what you don’t?

Be For What You Want and Against Nothing

So at this point I’m “for” being “for,” but not “against” being “against.” I find that every time I start to react to something that I don’t like or don’t want, the faster I can get clear about what I do want instead, the easier it is for me to get it, and the more fun I have in the process.

This practice, turning my don’t want to do once, has allowed me to hone in on picking which things I am going to “test” to see whether or not they are something I’d like to “hold to firmly.” And I’m finding more and more things that I like all the time.

Committed to Your Success,

Neill Gibson

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