FOCUS – A KEY TO SELF CONTROL

FOCUS – Is one of the keys to self control and improved Social Intelligence.

Richard Taylor of Atlanta Anger Management uses the Anderson and Anderson Contrasting Wheels of Behavior to help clients move quickly into more positive constructive relationship patterns.

Today we look at FOCUS or Paying Attention with Awareness.

Is your mind wandering?

The Practice

Pay attention.

Why?

Moment to moment, the flows of thoughts and feelings, sensations and desires, and conscious and unconscious processes sculpt your nervous system like water gradually carving furrows and eventually gullies on a hillside. Your brain is continually changing its structure. The only question is: Is it for better or worse?

In particular, because of what’s called “experience-dependent neuroplasticity,” whatever you hold in attention has a special power to change your brain. Attention is like a combination spotlight and vacuum cleaner: it illuminates what it rests upon and then sucks it into your brain – and your self.

Therefore, controlling your attention – becoming more able to place it where you want it and keep it there, and more able to pull it away from what’s bothersome or pointless (such as looping again and again through anxious preoccupations, mental grumbling, or self-criticism) – is the foundation of changing your brain, and thus your life, for the better.

As the great psychologist, William James, wrote over a century ago: “The education of attention would be the education par excellence.”

But to gain better control of attention – to become more mindful and more able to concentrate – we need to overcome a few challenges. In order to survive, our ancestors evolved to be stimulation-hungry and easily distracted, continually scanning their interior and their environment for opportunities and threats, carrots and sticks. There is also a natural range of temperament, from focused and cautious “turtles” to distractible and adventuresome “jackrabbits.” Upsetting experiences – especially traumatic ones – train the brain to be vigilant, with attention skittering from one thing to another. And modern culture makes us accustomed to an intense incoming fire hose of stimuli, so anything less – like the sensations of simply breathing – can feel unrewarding, boring, or frustrating.

To overcome these challenges, it’s useful to cultivate some neural factors of attention – in effect, getting your brain on your side to help you get a better grip on this spotlight/vacuum cleaner.

How?

You can use one or more of the seven factors below at the start of any deliberate focusing of attention – from keeping your head in a dull business meeting to contemplative practices such as meditation or prayer – and then let them move to the background as you shift into whatever the activity is.

You can also draw upon one or more during the activity if your attention is flagging. They are listed in an order that makes sense to me, but you can vary the sequence. (There’s more information about attention, mindfulness, concentration, and contemplative absorption inBuddha’s Brain.)

7 Things To Help Keep Focus:

1.  Set the intention to sustain your attention, to be mindful. You can do this both top-down, by giving yourself a gentle instruction to be attentive, and bottom-up, by opening to the sense in your body of what mindfulness feels like.

2.  Relax. Use Conscious Breathing. For example, take several exhalations that are twice as long as your inhalations. This stimulates the calming, centering parasympathetic nervous system and settles down the fight-or-flight stress-response sympathetic nervous system that jiggles the spotlight of attention this way and that, looking for carrots and sticks.

3.  Without straining at it, think of things that help you feel cared about – that you matter to someone, that you belong in a relationship or group, that you are seen and appreciated, or even cherished and loved. It’s OK if the relationship isn’t perfect, or that you bring to mind people from the past, or pets, or spiritual beings. You could also get a sense of your own goodwill for others, your own compassion, kindness, and love. Warming up the heart in this way helps you feel protected, and it brings a rewarding juiciness to the moment – which support #4 and #5 below.

4.  Think of things that help you feel safer, and thus more able to rest attention on your activities, rather than vigilantly scanning. Notice that you are likely in a relatively safe setting, with resources inside you to cope with whatever life brings. Let go of any unreasonable anxiety, any unnecessary guarding or bracing.

5.  Gently encourage some positive feelings, even mild or subtle ones. For example, think of something you feel glad about or grateful for; go-to’s for me include my kids, Yosemite, and just being alive. Open as you can to an underlying sense of well-being that may nonetheless contain some struggles or pain. The sense of pleasure or reward in positive emotions increases the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which closes a kind of gate in the neural substrates of working memory, thus keeping out any “barbarians,” any invasive distractions.

6.  Get a sense of the body as a whole, its many sensations appearing together each moment in the boundless space of awareness. This sense of things as a unified gestalt, perceived within a large and panoramic perspective, activates networks on the sides of the brain (especially the right – for right-handed people) that support sustained mindfulness. And it de-activates the networks along the midline of the brain that we use when we’re lost in thought.

7.  For 10-20-30 seconds in a row, stay with whatever positive experiences you’re having or lessons you’re learning. Since “neurons that fire together, wire together,” this savoring and registering helps weave the fruits of your attentive efforts into the fabric of your brain and your self. [You change.]

by

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
25 Mitchell Blvd.
San Rafael, California 94903

Used With Permission

My latest book is adapted from this newsletter and is titled Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. In the book, I present 52 of my favorite practices – simple actions inside your mind – to light up the neural networks of deep well-being and resilience.

Just One Thing: Developing A Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time

by Rick Hanson by New Harbinger Publications
Paperback

List Price: $15.95
Our Price: $9.62

Buy Now

RICHARD TAYLOR’S FAVORITE BOOKS, DVDS ON: REWIRE YOUR BRAIN, MEDITATION, MINDFULNESS, PATHS TO SELF IMPROVEMENT, BRAIN SCIENCE, BRAIN NEUROPLASICITY

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE & ANGER MANAGEMENT go hand in hand.
First Step: Self Awareness
Second Step: Self Control
Third Step: Social Intelligence & Awareness
Fourth Step: Relationship Management

FOCUS – Using Mindful Attention To What We Are Doing is key to rewire the brain
to become more (slower) responsive then caveman fight, flight, freeze instant reactivity.

My Suggestion:

1. Stop Multi-Tasking when you can.

2. Turn off TV and Radio when you can. Embrace silence.

3. Silence allows us to hear our inner brain (ego) chatter.

4. Catch Negative thoughts. Change them to Positive thoughts. Click -> Change the channel! Called: 3 C’s -> Catch It. Check It. Change It.

5. Linger 10-20-30 seconds on these positive thoughts or experiences to rewire the brain.

For Class Information
For Individual Private Session

For Saturday One Day Class

Director Richard Taylor BS, CAMF
Certified Anger Management Facilitator
Diplomate American Association Anger Management Providers

Atlanta Anger Management 
5555 Glenridge Connector
Suite 200 (2nd Floor)
Atlanta, Georgia 30342 USA

Office Phone: 678-576-1913
Fax: 1-866-551-1253
Web: www.atlantaangermanagement.com
E-mail: richardtaylor5555@gmail.com

Linked in:http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardtayloraam

A Certified Anderson and Anderson™ Anger Management Provider
The Best Of The Best In Anger Management & Emotional Intelligence

REWIRE YOUR BRAIN – PRACTICE NOT QUARRELING

Who do you argue with?

The Practice

Don’t quarrel.

Why?

It’s one thing to stick up for yourself and others. But it’s a different matter to get caught up in wrangles, contentiousness, squabbles . . . in a word: quarrels.

Similarly, it’s one thing to disagree with someone, even to the point of arguing – but it’s a different matter to get so caught up in your position that you lose sight of the bigger picture, including your relationship with the other person. Then you’re quarreling.

You know you’re quarreling when you find yourself getting irritated, especially with that sticky feeling that you’re just not gonna quit until you’ve won.

Quarrels happen both out in the open, between people, and inside the mind, like when you make a case in your head about another person or keep revisiting an argument to make your point more forcefully. We quarrel most with family and friends – imagine that! – but also with people on TV, or politicians and groups we don’t like. We can even quarrel with conditions in life (such as an illness or tight money) or with physical objects, like a sticky drawer slammed shut in anger.

However they happen, quarrels are stressful, activating the ancient fight-or-flight machinery in your brain and body: a bit of this won’t harm you, but a regular diet of quarreling is not good for your long-term physical and mental health.

Plus it eats away like acid on a relationship. For example, I was in a serious relationship in my mid-twenties that was headed for marriage, but our regular quarrels finally so scorched the earth in our hearts that no love could grow there for each other.

This week, try not quarrel with anyone or anything.

How?

Be mindful of what quarreling feels like, in your body, emotions, and thoughts. For example, be aware of that sense of revving up, pushing against, being right, and driving your view home that is so characteristic of quarreling. Ask yourself: Does this feel good? Is this good for me?

Observe the impact of quarreling in relationships, whether you’re doing it or others are (including on the world stage). Ask yourself:Are the results good? What would my relationships be like if I did not quarrel in them?

If you sense yourself warming up to a quarrel, step back, slow down, don’t do it. Try a different approach: Say only what truly needs saying; stay calm and contained, without trying to persuade the other person; don’t take any bait. If it comes to this, let the other person, not you, look over-heated and argumentative.

Richard Taylor adds: [ “If you want to always be right you will end up single.”]

Much of the time, you’ll realize that nothing needs to be said at all:you just don’t have to resist the other person. His or her words can pass on by like a gust of air swirling some leaves along its way. You don’t have to be contentious. Your silence does not equal agreement. Nor does it mean that the other person has won the point – and even if he or she has, would that actually matter so much in a week – or year – or so?

If you do get caught up in a quarrel, as soon as you realize that’s happened, back out of it. A good first step is to get quieter. Think about what really matters in the interaction – like saying what you are going to do in the future, or finding out some key fact – and then zero in on that thing, whatever it is. Maybe acknowledge to the other person that you’ve realized you’ve gotten into a kind of argument here, but that’s not what you really want to do. If that person tries to keep up the fight, you don’t have to. It takes two to quarrel, and only one to stop it. Then when the time is right, as you can, try to repair the damage of the quarrel.

Overall, explore the sense of being at peace with the world, without a quarrel with anyone.

(The feeling of this reminds me of a saying from my wife’s childhood, which should be adapted to one’s own situation: Be a friend to all, and a sister to every Girl Scout!)

by

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
25 Mitchell Blvd.
San Rafael, California 94903

Used With Permission

My Offerings

· Buddha’s Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom – Written with a neurologist, Richard Mendius, M.D., and with a Foreword by Daniel Siegel, M.D. and a Preface by Jack Kornfield, Ph.D., it’s full of effective ways to use your mind to change your brain to benefit your whole being.
· Stress-Proof Your Brain -Meditations to rewire neural pathways for stress relief and unconditional happiness.
· Meditations to Change Your Brain – Three CDs of powerful guided practices, plus practical suggestions, for personal transformation.
·  Meditations for Happiness – Downloadable program (3 CDs worth) on gratitude, inner protectors, and coming home to happiness.

Question? Are we going to remember this argument in a year from now? 

Related Richard’s Selected Best In Class Books – DVDs – Meditations

Couples Conflict Management

Couples Communication Help

What Is Anger Management?

Director Richard Taylor BS, CAMF
Certified Anger Management Facilitator
Diplomate American Association Anger Management Providers

Atlanta Anger Management

5555 Glenridge Connector
Suite 200 (2nd Floor)
Atlanta, Georgia 30342 USA

Office Phone: 678-576-1913
Fax: 1-866-551-1253
Web: http://www.atlantaangermanagement.com
E-mail: richardtaylor5555@gmail.com

Linked in: http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardtayloraam

A Certified Anderson and Anderson™ Anger Management Provider
The Best Of The Best In Anger Management & Emotional Intelligence