How often do you do engage in an activity that demands your full attention?

I spend a lot of my time either in the past or the future. Examining and ruminating over what has just happened, or dreaming and worrying about what is coming next. This is often the source of my anxiety, and lack of self-worth when I get caught up in the hindering, unhelpful cycle of thoughts.

Spending some time in the past and the future is immensely helpful, if you are there to learn and improve, and make plans for a compelling future. The problem is we can often get stuck there, and if we are not careful this two destinations can become hindering and prevent us from acting due to the fear of repeating past failures, or because we enjoy the memories of past comforts and future dream of a wonderful future. The past and the future are not supposed to be permanent places of residence. They are just reference points to create a better now, by informing your current actions. The only thing that is real after all is the here and now, not yesterday and not tomorrow.

To ease our anxieties and create a more action focus, mindfulness is often offered up as a solution, to concentrate on the what is happening to you right now. To focus on you and your immediate environment. So the sensation of standing on the floor or sitting down, how different parts of your body feel, noticing your heartbeat and your breath. During this process your mind will wander, when you notice thoughts creeping back in, which they will often, mindfulness encourages you to let go of the thought and concentrate again back on what is happening to your body, such as your breathing. This activity is incredibly liberating as each time a thought enters your head, you let that thought go and release yourself from it. As after all it is only a thought (a series of electrical impulses and chemical reactions) and is not real. Now I do practice mindfulness and I do find it really helpful to calm my thoughts, but I find it difficult to achieve everyday.

Being engaged however I find much easier to do, and again it gets me to focus on the here and now. For instance writing a blog takes my concentration fully. I am taking my thoughts and turning them into words on the computer screen. My thoughts are focused on what I am creating now, so inevitably keeps me out of the past and the future ,only temporarily delving in for terms of reference. Another engaging activity is coaching, I am in complete service of the person in front of me, so I have to keep check on my wandering mind and bring it back to listening to my client. Coaching is a great way for me to quieten my thoughts and centre myself, as the less thinking I do about me the more helpful I am to my client, therefore it creates a discipline for me to be mindful.

What do you do that engages you enough that you have to concentrate fully on the activity and keep check on your thoughts? If you find yourself caught in your thoughts and paralysed by fear of failure or even the comfort of past glories, look for activities you enjoy that take your full attention, something that brings you to the present, something that lets you release those thoughts that are hindering you.

If you want to explore this more, please get in touch to discuss how a coaching relationship would help you create more focus on what you want to achieve and ensuring you take action. As well face to face coaching I also offer online, email and skype coaching. Email me to find out more and for a free consultation.


Published by Matt Smith Personal and Professional Coach

Performance and Life Coach

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