When you hear the word ‘gift’ what springs to your mind? I imagine for most people it would be a Christmas gift or a birthday present. But what about a gift for you?
We tend to always give a gift rather than receive one from ourselves. I propose you try giving ‘this gift’ to yourself.
I recommend this technique to many of my clients who come to me with a variety of things they want to work on from anxiety to weight loss. Sometimes we can get into the habit of focusing on the negatives in life, this technique helps to flip that around and focus on the positive instead.
Creatures of Habit
As humans, we tend to be creatures of habit. By that I mean once we’ve done something the same way a few times we tend to stick with it. This goes for our brains too, we can get stuck in a certain way of thinking. It can be very easy to get stuck in a rut, where that rut is all doom and gloom and you can’t see a way out. We can have a tendency to get stuck in a negative thinking pattern where the world around us is that bit darker and nothing goes right, where we focus on the negatives rather than the positives. Some people are able to get themselves out these negative thinking patterns but for others it can be that bit harder.
How You See the World
It all comes down to how we see the world, which might sound a bit odd. Most would assume we all see the same world around us….but we don’t! I’ll explain.
Its been estimated that we receive 11 million bits of information from the outside world through our senses every second and on top of that, this 11 million is only a small percentage of the information that actually exits. We have 5 senses; visual, auditory, kinaesthetic (sensation and emotion), olfactory (smell) and gustatory (taste). In general, each of us will tend to favour one sense over another most of the time. This means, if you put a group of people in a room, they will all pay different levels of attention to what makes up their environment i.e the room. Yet each person would call their snapshot version of the room ‘reality’ and more importantly will behave as if everyone else in that room has seen the same ‘room’ as them, when in fact they haven’t. Our version of reality is only our version, someone else is most likely to be different in a number of ways. Below is a good example of how we take for granted that people are experiencing the same thing, when in fact they are experiencing something different.
Look at the picture to the right , what do you see?
Is the woman young or old? Ask someone else and see what they say. This is a great example of how we can be looking at the same thing but be experiencing something different. This is also happening with our environment around us. Research has indicated that we can only pay attention to 5 to 9 bits of information per second, that’s less than a millionth of what’s available. It’s down to our unconscious to act as a sieve and reduce this to what it considers the most important things for us to be aware off.
We are creatures of habit and occasionally we can get into the habit of focussing on the negatives from our world around us rather than the positives. I am obviously generalising this, and everyone does it to their own degree. But do you do this? Have you ever noticed how, if something goes wrong in the morning the whole day goes wrong or you assume the day will be “a bad day”? What’s happening here, is you are setting your mind to focus on the negatives to fulfil the prophecy you’ve set for yourself; you are fulfilling your own ‘self fulfilling prophecy’. Next time, if something goes wrong in the morning, try not to make the assumption that the rest of the day will go the same way. Try and accept it as a one off event that does not have any effect on the rest of your day.
Update the Unconscious
So, to break the habit of focusing on the negatives from our world around us, in the same way as you would update the ‘software’ on your computer, is update our unconscious. Send the unconscious a message and let it know you want to focus on something different, the positives around us rather than the negatives.
One way of updating the unconscious so you start to focus on the positives rather than negatives is to do “3 Gifts” every day.
Towards the end of the day, think of 3 things that you noticed over the day that could be considered as gifts to you. So as you look back over those moments you realise those moments brought you something. As we now know, everyone is different in what they notice from the world around us. So it’s very individual to you what these moments could be. Remember, yours will be completely unique to you and they can be anything, small or big. Did you see something in nature that caught your attention, for me seeing a butterfly makes me smile and I would consider that a gift. A laugh…..a smile….did you learn something new you could consider a gift….it could be something somebody said or did. Anything that you consider a gift to you.
So over time, by doing these 3 gifts every day, your mind will become more and more tuned to noticing all the positive things around you. It might even surprise you how quickly you start to notice things during the day that you could consider a gift later on. So one day, you may look back and notice how differently you are now thinking or feeling, by just focusing on the positives rather than the negatives.
Give yourself a gift..or three!
This technique is great for everyone, we can all have a tendency to occasionally focus on the negatives in life rather than the positives and we can all be blind as to when we are doing this. Try 3 gifts for a few weeks ……..you might be surprised by what you notice or how you feel.