We're gonna go metaphysics with this blog. The law of attraction concept felt like mental gymnastics to me, initially. What I focus on – increases? The abstract feel of this came when realizing that I’ve attracted negative aspects of life and made them bigger by focusing simply by placing my focus on them. A story given by a client, Allie gives a perfect example of how this works (I'm paraphrasing a bit, here).
Allison's Story -
“I was snowmobiling for the first time in my life and was terrified of running into a tree. Throughout the day I became more and more comfortable driving but the thought was always in my mind, ‘don’t run into a tree, don’t run into a tree.’ At one point, while riding in a wide-open area, I noticed a lone pine tree. I looked at it and thought, “don’t run into that.” My anxiety grew as I kept looking at it with the pine with the thought ever repeating itself, ‘stay away from that, don’t run into the tree….’ And I was headed right towards it. The crazy part is that I was actually GOING TO HIT the tree even while my thought was screaming at me to do the opposite! Thankfully, I didn’t hit the tree but that’s only because my husband noticed what was happening and began frantically waving his arms. He was to my left and when I noticed the frantic movement - I looked towards him and began to veer away from the tree. My focus had redirected and I missed the tree.”
This story perfectly illustrates the power of focus. Allie was putting energy into the tree and was being attracted to it like a tractor beam (for you Star Wars and Trekkie fans). Here’s the twist – the energy of our focus doesn’t always care about the details. Ally absolutely didn’t want to run into the tree – BUT, her thoughts drew her to it nonetheless.
I see this concept happening in the addiction all over the place. Drugs and alcohol are the same to me (mind altering substance) but let’s keep it simple and pick alcohol as an example. Drinking eventually leads to negative consequences which then gives people the desire to stop. Here’s the stumbling block I observe repeatedly; when someone tries to stop, they actually think about not drinking a LOT. And then they run into the Pine.
Before you think this is ridiculous, I’ll prove it to you. Ready? Don’t think about a white elephant. See?! I just said to NOT think about a while elephant and you totally thought of a white elephant.
In other words, people who constantly think of ‘not’ drinking are at a very high risk of relapse. “Where attention goes, energy flows” is a common phrase in the self-help community (think Tony Robbins or ‘The Secret’) but it’s origins go way back – for recent findings (1960’s) and if you like Hawaii, checkout “huna”. This isn’t a new concept.
Ok, Jed – now that I know this, what do I do about it? The answer? Redirect. Allie had it right when she focused on something else. When we redirect our energy, our attention goes with it and instead of ‘not’ wanting to drink or not hit the tree, or NOT be anxious, or NOT be depressed – which actually increases them, we start to just be. If you’re not wanting to drink – think about something entirely different. Invest your thoughts on family, work, triathlons, biking, music, hiking, trail running, nutrition – anything OTHER than ‘not’ drinking (or staying clean, or hitting a pine tree, or being anxious, or depressed, etc.).
Allie doesn’t even come close to hitting pine trees anymore – in fact, she doesn’t even think about it.
Thanks for reading and don’t forget to check out the Jed Said YouTube channel. You can find that at the website www.meaningtolive.com
The meaning of it all? Don't drive a snowmobile if there are trees around.
Till next time – awareness up.
Jed Thorpe, CMHC