When we focus on what is not working out for you at the moment, it’s easy to start making generalizations that nothing is working out for you. Like on those days when we’ve gotten up on the wrong side of the bed.
Your attention is drawn to things that don’t work, even though there at the same time are as many, if not more, things that actually do work out for you.
Such downward spiral of negativity is usually triggered either by something I call the ‘comparison trap’ or by us telling ourselves stories about how things ‘should be’.
Either way, we set ourselves in a completely unfair setting. Our stories, whether about comparison or about how things should be, are not in alignment with the reality and thus cause us to feel bad.
When we compare ourselves to others, we often compare feelings into looks. How we feel inside of us to how it looks like for someone else. And that is not a fair setting, for either one.
You never know how someone is feeling inside even though they would look so cool outside. You never know, unless you ask. But we don’t usually do that. People just assume things and then think those assumptions are the truth, without questioning it.
Therefore, whenever you catch yourself from comparing your doings with those of others, change the angle and compare your now self to that of your past self. How have you developed? How is it different for you now than it was before, in whatever it is that you’re doing?
This doesn’t mean you stop asking and getting feedback from outside on how you’re doing. It does mean that you do the comparison inside – you compare yourself to you. And only to you!
Try this for one day. Or one week. Or one month. Preferably the rest of your life.
This allows you to see the development in you, which, in the end, is the only thing that matters: to you! It does not matter how good or bad someone else is, or thinks you are. It matters how satisfied with yourself you are.
And from that satisfaction stems everything else in life.
That’s why I have for years now done my best to leave comparison out altogether (in everything) and to concentrate more in detail on what is specifically working out, especially in my relationships: with myself, my husband, kids, friends, colleagues and even random acquaintances.
There’s so much that is already working out in your life and it counts. Even if someone would seem to have it better.
And about the stories we tell ourselves. We receive so much information all the time that it’s necessary for our brain to filter some of the information out and only let some of it in. The filtering process is based on what it is that we are focusing on the most. It’s the way our brain works.
If we focus on what is not working for us, then we give our brain an order to filter in only information that is in accordance with that. Of course, the opposite holds true as well, so if we focus on what is working for us, then we give our brain an order to filter in information based on that.
Now which one do you think feels more encouraging to you? To filter in the good or to filter in the bad?
In my experience, neither one alone. Both extremes give us a polarized view of the reality, which always is something in between. The balance point would be to filter in both the good and the bad in proportioned manner.
To zoom in or out just enough to see both the big picture and some of the details. Rather than zoom in to details so much that you lose focus or zoom out so much that you don’t see any of the details at all.
If we only see the details, you, over time, feel lost and don’t know where you’re heading. Or why you are where you are. It feels like there’s no point in doing anything, and it all gets really frustrating.
In this situation it helps to zoom out just enough to see the big picture again. You, then, can remember why you’re doing what you’re doing and know where you’re heading.
On the other hand, if we only see the big picture, it’s when you don’t quite know what to do, feeling yourself to be too small or not enough, and the task at hand to be too big or too complicated to accomplish.
This time it helps to zoom in just enough to see some of the details, too. So that you can see how the big picture actually comes together piece by piece, detail by detail. And that you don’t have to do it all at once, but to start with one detail and to move on to the next one, piece by piece.
This is why we start with shifting our focus on what already is working for you. It’s much more powerful than you may think at first.
It enables us to start filter in the good as well, to balance out the bad. And this shift moves you from the downward spiral to that of upward spiral! And once you get on the upward spiral and you can see the changes that start to take place in your life, it elevates you even more!
When we’re filtering in also the good, in other words, what does work for you already now, we become more attuned with listening to our inner guidance and trusting we can make good decisions. That again strengthens your upward spiral.
So, as we too often dwell a little too much on the bad, the thing now is to consciously think less specifically about what isn’t working out and to think more specifically of what is working out.
Let’s have fun with this process!