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Your Freedom To Switch Off The News
one of the most freeing realizations in life is that we draw what we fear toward us by focusing on it. Thinking about what we don’t like leads us to make choices from a place of avoiding what we fear instead of moving towards what we love. This is to constantly define the path that your life is taking from a negative basis, instead of a positive one.
seeing this can be a life-changing realization because in this noisy world it is so easy to unconsciously spend more time talking and thinking about the things you resent, rather than celebrating and engaging what you love.
What I want to do in today’s article is explain why “focus on what you love” isn’t just some feel-good truism, but is instead founded on a deep understanding of how we perceive, interpret and react to the world. Although I have found that most people agree that it is not a good idea to continually focus on things that make you feel bad, this doesn’t seem to prevent us doing it. Still, to this day, I have to catch myself from falling into negative thought-cycles when someone tells me about the current news headline that the world is focusing its fear and condemnation through.
here’s a great way to visualize how our focus works. When you drive a car where you look and where you steer are two different things (but hopefully somewhat connected). This means you can look at a car-crash while still steering to avoid it. However, as people, we do not have this luxury as we are each constantly moving towards whatever we are most focusing on—regardless of whether your thinking about it is positive or negative (joy-based or fear-based).
The only difference is that while we will happily stride up to what we are excited about, we end up endlessly orbiting what we fear because we resist it. This is caused by the strength of our desire to avoid it, colliding with our inability to stop focusing on it because we fear what will happen if we look away. And anything that you can’t stop looking at, but refuse to approach, is something that you endlessly orbit.
The result of this state of attraction and repulsion appears as a circular rut or seemingly immovable obstacle in your life.
The clearest example is the abstinence-addiction cycle where a recovering addict spends the rest of their life making choices defined by a drug that they never take again, and yet it remains a central focus of their life. An addict can’t stop focusing on the drug because of their addictive nature and the depth of relationship they had with it. But they can’t let go of their fear of being an addict again—hence an endless orbit.
What I want to suggest is that even if the pattern of addiction isn’t one that you personally relate to, what I see when I look out into the world is that we are all constantly orbiting our fears just like an addict. And, unless we take steps to become conscious of those cycles, then we too will remain within them.
When it comes to addiction this isn’t about feeling free to take the drug again; it is about coming to know and not fear the wounded part of yourself that is behind your compulsive focus. In the same way, when it comes to not being able to stop looking at the news, it is about coming to know and not fear the wounded part of ourselves that sincerely believes we must be informed of every news story to be protected from danger in the world.
everything we focus upon affects us—regardless of whether we accept or reject it.
To label something as negative or to-be-avoided does not mean that you have been unaffected by it. Your very choice to actively avoid something shows that it affected you enough to cause you to update your belief-system (through which you navigate the world) to limit where you go. We are often much freer in our youth because we have not been taught to fear the potential of life.
This understanding of positive focus is easy to grasp. However, living it may take some serious willpower to begin with. This is not because we have any lack of willingness to be happy; it is because we are hard-wired to focus on what we fear. This is due to the survival-instinct that has evolved through our biological evolution. This does not make it impossible to change (even hard-wiring can be altered), but it means you will need to become highly conscious of what you are focusing on, to identify exactly where it is in your day that you go from feeling good to entering a negative thought-cycle.
The next realization is that “everything you experience affects you” isn’t just about outward-experiences that act upon us; it equally applies to your inner state of consciousness that includes both your thoughts and emotions.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) isn’t about something bad that happened in the past, because if it were “in the past” there wouldn’t be a problem. PTSD is about an event being so traumatic that the person can’t stop reliving it in the present. This is the extreme example of how negative outward events continue to shape us through our continued focus upon them.
Obviously our general life is more subtle than the trauma that causes PTSD but what I want to suggest to you is that something you experience that disgusts and distresses you to the degree that you find yourself repeatedly thinking about it (and feeling some combination of despair, frustration and anger), is the acorn of the PTSD oak tree.
So even if you are thinking about how negative, horrible, or “not like you” something is, you are not avoiding it at all, because you are repeatedly thinking about it. This is to be enslaved by your thought-processes rather than being a master of them and is the result of the burden of fear that you have absorbed through negative beliefs about the world.
becoming a master of your own internal-state of consciousness (of which your focus is the keystone), is something that is becoming harder in this world. Before the explosion of technology and communication it was far easier to limit the assault on our senses. Anxiety, depression and suicide will all continue to rise until we start to acknowledge that we aren’t super-beings that are capable of maintaining a positive viewpoint against any onslaught of negative feeling stories.
You have not failed or let yourself down if watching the news makes you feel bad—that is the sane reaction. The insanity is constantly watching negative things (that never really change) even though they are traumatizing. It would seem that looking away from a pit of negativity should be far easier than that it is for a veteran to stop thinking about the horrors of war, and yet we still all seem convinced that the only way to change is to keep looking.
It would be different if seeing the news made us run out into the world to make positive change, but I think that we are all clear by now that through absorbing constant negativity we are far more likely to feel the loss of hope than an inspirational call-to-action.
Around this point you may well be thinking: “So are you saying we should just stick our heads in the sand?” The answer to this is a personal choice of how you feel you want to “be” in relation to the whole. My realization has been that if I am feeling engaged in positive action that I know is feeding into this world in a way that seeks to nurture and empower it, then I find it relatively easy to not look at the news. But if I am feeling low self-esteem, or perhaps thinking that what I do doesn’t have any impact, then I find myself watching the news (almost as a reflection of my negative emotional state).
What I saw in this is that I am incapable of not-focusing on the news, as the very idea of not-focusing on it is thinking about it; instead I only seem to stop focusing on the news when I positively focus on something else. This is a positive basis of orientation as it is not built on rejecting the negative. As long as I feel myself to be contributing positive feeling creations to our shared-world (instead of contributing fear, divisiveness and hate), then the current state of news cannot possibly be helpful because of how it cripples my motivation.
No matter what it is you are doing in life, no matter how overt or subtle, no matter if it affects one or many, you know if you are a contributor of love and co-operation or fear and divisiveness. As long as you are happy with your answer to that, then maybe you will do even more for this world if you take all the energy that you put into frustration and despair, and instead invest it in your positive thoughts, feelings, and actions.
The mastery of focus is about focusing on what we enjoy, what we applaud and what holds meaning for us, rather than focusing on what we fear and who we are told to hate.
Where you place your focus is a choice. A human being with a focus that is governed by love (rather than fear) is an incredible thing, but when we have been traumatized it can be hard. What I promise you is that if you will take time to observe your own state of mind, such that you come to understand the triggers that lead you into negative thought cycles, then it will, with a little persistence, become easier and easier to become a master of your own focus. What you then do with that focus is up to you. But what I can tell you is this: if you free yourself of fear enough to become the master of your own focus, then you will feel your calling in this life with clarity.
I passionately believe that we all have an inner-calling. You just need to begin to know yourself free of fear to hear it. I hope you do not feel I am asking you to believe you are in any way inferior in saying that we are not capable of absorbing an endless stream of negativity. I am asking you to understand that the basis of what every human being is, is kind, inclusive and loving. And the degree to which any person does not look like that, is the degree to which they have become twisted around a negative, wounded focus.
This is to be the change that you want to see in the world, instead of choosing to be an observer and commentator on its misery.
I hope that reading them has bought you as much joy as writing them has for me. I wish this joy for you, that you may see the potential before you and release your focus on what you fear such that you fully meet the love and joyful action that arises out of a positive focus.