Life Coaching Tip: At times it may feel like you don’t have a choice of where to focus your attention, but you ALWAYS do. And this is important because what you focus on, you create more of. It’s empowering to remember you are the boss of your brain, and you get to decide what to set your sights on!
It happens every year, yet I’m always surprised. And this year was no exception.
It was late May, and the morning was cool–but the sun sparkled brightly. If I were to describe perfect weather conditions, this would be it.
As I made my way through the wooded part of my walk that day and got closer to the lakeshore, the view was clear and surreal. I could see several boats all the way out to the horizon on the brilliant turquoise water that looked more like the Caribbean than Lake Erie. I stopped at my favorite lookout spot to take it all in.
But soon, I heard IT—the buzz of a power tool—and the more I tuned into it, the louder it got.
“Oh no!” I thought. “The blasted midges are back!”
If you have never heard the sound of swarms of midges hovering over the lake and its shores, I promise you, my description is not exaggerated. The buzz kind of sounds like a scene from a horror movie.
And once you know what is responsible for the buzz, I highly suggest not looking up, because seeing the huge black clouds of midges drifting overhead adds an additional dose to the creepiness. The sight makes my skin crawl and makes me want to bolt for the car!
Now, I should disclose that midges are completely harmless, and even though they look similar to a mosquito, they don’t bite.
I know this for sure because my friend, Carin, who is an entomologist, assured me that they don’t even have mouths. Knowing this, however, doesn’t really help when my brain tunes into the loud buzz of the swarms.
But as I stood there that morning, looking out at the gorgeous view from the top of the bluff, I couldn’t help myself—I gave into the temptation and briefly glanced up at the swarms.
Yikes! Eww! This was a bad idea.
I quickly disrupted my focus once again, and I intentionally directed my attention back out to the gorgeous view of the water. But I’ll admit, it wasn’t easy.
I am always disappointed when the midges return because I know I must work a little harder to manage my mind on those mornings.
Sometimes, I am great at it—consciously focusing my attention on the beautiful sights and sounds of nature. The woods are lush and green this time of year with pops of color and sweet fragrances of blossoming trees and wildflowers.
I love hearing the trickle of the waves and the delightful chorus of the birds. When I close my eyes and really tune into them, I’m amazed at the variety of their songs that can be heard—close and far off into the distance.
But I’m not always great at focusing on these things that I love and make me happy. Especially once I know the midges are back.
Whenever I focus on the sound of the midges, the buzz gets louder and louder. The sound overpowers all the other sounds in my mind. I can no longer hear the crash of the waves or the calls of the birds.
Instead, I hear only the constant, deafening buzz of the midges.
And once the buzz becomes a roar in my mind, I almost always look up again . . . and again . . . and I am totally freaked out by the vast number of insects swarming above me. I’m embarrassed to confess how many times I’ve dashed to the car, covering my mouth with my hands so as not to dine on a midge breakfast.
These midge encounters are a perfect reminder of the job we all have in managing our mindset.
It often doesn’t feel like we have a choice about what we focus on, but we ALWAYS do. We get to decide what we will focus on in every moment of every day.
And why is this important?
Because just like with midges, what we focus on becomes important to us—bigger and louder—and it drowns out everything else.
So why would we ever turn our attention to our problems or what annoys us or scares us?
Why would we ever choose to focus on what we don’t want for our lives?
Well, I guess it’s because we’re human, and thoughts come through our brain at lightning speed. Sometimes we choose to grab onto the ones that distract us from our goals, and sometimes we don’t.
The key is to remember that you really do have a choice.
This insight can give you a little space between your thoughts and reactions, so you can re-adjust if you are spending too much time ruminating on thoughts that don’t serve you. This is super important, because what you focus on, you create more of.
This is what managing your mindset is all about.
It’s about consciously deciding what you will focus on based on what you want for your life.
It’s about choosing thoughts that create the feelings that warm your heart and inspire you.
It’s about living more intentionally with clear direction.
It’s empowering to realize that you get to decide how you want to show up to your life, and when it’s not working, you can always course correct.
As for me, I’m getting better and better at ignoring the buzz and staying focused on what brings me joy.
But if you are ever at the bluffs and see me sprinting for my car, please give me some grace. I’m working on it . . . (insert grin)!
Like you, my friend, I have a human brain—and we are always a work in progress!