Attention and focus are skills that can be developed, even though it is strongly influenced by emotion. In fact learning to consciously direct and redirect your attention is a powerful tool in your emotional arsenal.
This is important because often we all seem too willing to allow attention to be determined for us. Work, friends, social media simply need to alert you to a new message, a new posting, a new image or trend and it has your full attention, whatever you were doing in that moment.
Go on, admit it to yourself at least. At home eating dinner the phones either at the table with you or within earshot, and as you hear that familiar signal you politely excuse yourself so that you can just check to see if it is something urgent.
So this technology holds you hostage because of the ability it has to provide constant access to those alerts, and those that want to alert you have an ever present doorway into you mind, an access point to steal your attention and grab your focus any time of day or night.
If you valued your attention and focus, you would look for ways to guard it the same way you do your most valued possession, deciding who and what gains access and when. Deciding when to shut that door and what to do if there is a breach.
This is the act of deciding and it is based on the willingness to exercise the discipline and self control to do this and the practiced ability to succeed. That’s right it is a skill that needs to be practiced, with the practice empowering you in an infinite number of ways.
In our courses and workbooks we incorporate attention and focus as a skill to manage emotion, but it is far more than that. However you cannot decide to manage attention and focus only in the moment and only when feeling discomfort, because this is quite literally the opposite of the skill you need to develop.
Confused? Let me explain it starting with the key idea that feelings influence what has your attention and what has you attention influences how you feel.
The problem is that if you only look to direct your attention when you feel displeasure/discomfort you are not in control, your feelings are and the purpose determines the process something which often results in unhealthy (and unsuccessful) coping techniques or defence mechanisms that ultimately backfire.