Recently I have really been thinking a lot about focus. Specifically what we are focusing on as we are trying to move to change our lives. With many of the people that I have been working with I keep having to remind them that they are focusing on the wrong things. This is one of Satan’s big tools. He wants to distract us from looking and moving forward. He wants to get and keep us focused on the past and if not that then the present. He wants us to be consumed with the pain and project that emotional pain into the future as if it will never end. He absolutely does not want us looking at anything positive in the future. Also he works to get us inappropriately focused either on ourselves or others. He wants to make sure that we are not focused on the future and what is possible through Christ.
This can be likened to trying to drive with a car of unruly children. If we are not careful we can quickly find ourselves focusing on the wrong things and not on driving or moving forward. If we try to move forward while focusing on the wrong things it can be dangerous for ourselves and those around us on the road. If we focus on our mirrors we can only get a small view and as the small writing on the mirror says objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. This distorted view from our mirrors not only keeps our eyes off the road, but the distorted view can mess with our understanding of what is going on around us. If we deal with the kids in the car or other things like the radio, again our eyes are taken off of the road and our attention is inside of the car rather than where we are going. As we focus on the chaos in the car it can consume us. We can also focus too much on the car next to us and lose track of what we are doing as we focus on what they are doing. The only safe place to have our continual focus while driving is on the road in front of us. While we may check our mirrors and things inside the car our attention needs to quickly return to the road ahead. The same is true in our lives.
When we are focused on the past we are focused on things that can not be changed. When we specifically focus on the negative things that have happened it is very easy to become discouraged as the past wrongs which can not be changed are projected into the future in our minds. We very quickly assume the same things will always happen. When we focus on past events constantly this is a very fertile field for shame and blame. Shame because the past actions can very quickly become our identity. This brings about the shame of I am bad as the actions become who we are rather than something we did. The field is also fertile for the focus on the past to be turned to blame. As past events are focused on they get tied to other events. We often find reasons that our actions are not our fault. This can very quickly become so and so made me do it because as the past is focused on again and again the actual facts of actions and reactions can become distorted. We can move into the victim mentality. The blame can also be turned on ourselves bringing on depressive shame. As we become the reason for all of our issues and we have identified ourselves by our actions. Some of the thought patterns around this can be I am not good enough, all I ever do is hurt others, things always happen this way, I am unable to change.
Other issues can also come as we focus only or mostly on the present. When we focus on the present we forget the past and ignore the consequences of our actions. With this focus on the present selfishness or fatalism can become very prevalent in our thinking. If we only focus on the emotional pain in the present moment we can engage in some very self destructive ways to deal with the pain. This present focus, especially when we are focused on ourselves can lead to addiction and other harmful behaviors. We can also isolate or lash out at others without thoughts of the consequences. The pain can be all consuming at this point and can make it seem like it will never end. The more we focus on it the more that it can build. We can also get caught in the thoughts that this is just going to happen to me no matter what this is just fate. Thinking this way can rob us of our desire and motivation to change. This can lead to real depressive thoughts and feelings. When we feel that nothing we do will change anything it can leave us frozen. This frozen state leaves us stuck in the present unhealthy situation. We also can not just push aside or ignore the emotions of the present. When we do this we allow those emotions to build up and fester. Eventually they will become overwhelming and come out in uncontrollable ways. Learning ways to deal with the current emotions while also working towards a positive future is what is needed. Finding the underlying message of the emotion then finding a proper and constructive way to address the emotion allows us to progress without getting stuck.
To find true happiness we need to have thoughts and a focus on a positive future when things are tough. Even if that future is only a few steps ahead or the next step we need to be looking to the future. In the gospel this is where faith and hope come in. We are commanded repeatedly to have faith and hope. In the lectures on faith it is discussed that faith is the motivating factor in all Intelligent beings. As we move forward in changing our lives we need a hope for a better future and have faith that we can achieve that goal. Often this is not achievable on our own because we as mortals are weak we need to turn our lives and actions over to the Lord. As we have a vision to hope for, faith then motivates us to make the faltering steps relying on the merits of Christ to support us and handle the things that we can not. As we focus on the future we are better able to focus on and set goals to help us reach the envisioned future for both ourselves and others. We must focus on what we must do now to achieve that future, and not allow our focus to drift to others and what we feel they should or should not be doing. We must pray looking towards the future then get up and do all we can to make that future a reality. As we work looking to the future when setbacks happen we are better able to deal with them because we still have that vision of the future we are working for and faith that it can be achieved. This was stated by Elder Kelly Johnson when he said “those who have faith and the word of God deep in their hearts will be able to absorb and overcome the fiery darts that the adversary will surely send to destroy us.”
The front windshield is vast and allows a great view of the road while the rear view mirrors give a small and distorted view. Only when we focus regularly on the road ahead can we safely move forward.
Article written by Seth Bowman, Addiction Recovery Coach. Seth is a life coach who has come up through the Men of Moroni program, gaining a deep understanding of its principals and how they can change lives. He is passionate about sharing the tools and knowledge that has changed his life and given him the power to choose the personal, marital, and family life he has always wanted. To schedule and appointment with Seth, go to www.ChooseRecoveryServices.com