Your Focus Filters
Have you ever suffered from sensory overload? I know I have!
When we are overloaded, it’s the result of allowing too many outside influences to affect one or more of our senses to take up our brain space. The stimuli is either from internally or externally. When we are overloaded, it keeps us FROM focusing on what is in front of us! I’d also like to note, we all have different sensory loads that our brains can take. Some people work best with lots of action and others need quiet space. Neither is wrong, just different sensory requirements.
There are several filter systems in our brain that screens all incoming information and external stimuli (except for smell, but that’s for another article).
These filters function to help your brain decide what to pay attention to, in other words, focus.
Without these filters, we would not be able to withstand all the stimuli that comes into our brains. They are like your brain’s watchguard. They alert you if something threatens your safety and pays attention to all things new! They then send information to another part of your brain, (pMPFC) which judges the information for mistakes and let’s you know if you must change your decision.
The funny thing about the brain is that it always looks to prove us right!
Whether our thoughts are TRUE or FALSE, it will look for evidence to support its point of view.
Your brain plays a huge part in what is going on right now in our society. You see, when you have one point of view, politically or socially, your brain will always look for evidence to confirm that you are correct, hence, confirmation bias. You will only look at the news that supports your point of view, so on and so forth (your brain gives that evidence more weight; all information is not treated equally). You get the point.
Consider the implications of this information when you think of your internal meetings.
What we neglect to see is that the same thing happens when we consider beliefs about ourselves.
If we feed our brain thoughts like, “I’ll never be able to compete with Sam for that promotion” or “I’m terrible at speaking in meetings”, or “My boss is out to get me”, or “I don’t have what it takes to advance in my company” or “I don’t have enough time”, our brain will always look for evidence to prove ourselves right! This is where our focus will be! The brain filter will actively try to find that evidence to prove you right!
How can we get ourselves to see all the facts, instead of just the negative ones that have our attention?
Let’s consider the following three steps.
- Notice what has your attention. What thoughts are you giving weight to in your life? Are they thoughts that will propel you forward, or are they thoughts that keep you stuck and stagnant? When you think these thoughts, what happens for you in your body? Do you tense up and notice your shoulders traveling to your ears? Do you clench your jaw, or fist? Pay attention to where it shows up for you. We will use this as your indicator light that you may have some faulty thoughts happening.
- Question yourself. Remember, our brain gives more weight to what we agree with or the negative aspects of a situation. You see, those filters automatically focus on what we give weight to and the desire to keep us safe. What are the positive things you are neglecting to see? What are the positive gifts and attributes you bring to your work? What evidence do you have of what you are thinking? What do you want to think and feel?
- Challenge yourself and Guard your thinking. Challenge yourself to think, feel, believe, and act on the things that will propel you forward to your goals.. This is not just positive thinking. This is challenging faulty assumptions we are coming to life with, finding the truth, and placing our focus on it. Not every thought that comes through your brain is true. Challenge yourself and watch how your focus changes everything for you.
What will you choose to place your attention on that will move you forward instead of keeping you stuck?