Focus- It’s a powerful thing. It can enable us to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks. It can cause despair and disease.
I’ve been doing an exercise with some of my clients and friends lately. First I have them stand, put their dominant arm out parallel to the floor and make a fist. Then I test their strength by pushing down on their wrist and telling them to resist. Next I ask them to think about something they are good at or like about themselves and to resist as I push down. Sometimes the person demonstrates a little more strength than baseline. Often I can’t tell the difference. Lastly, I tell the person to think about something they are bad at or don’t like about themselves and to resist as I push down on their wrist. Many times, I can immediately push their arm to their side with little resistance. There is always a significant decrease in their ability to resist. Most respond with a comment like, “That’s amazing, I had no idea!” Some people ask to do it again (and get the same results). A few people are skeptical and claim I just push harder the third time.
A recent research study found that when people engage in problem talk (talking about how bad things are, what’s wrong with life, the world, etc) their cortisol levels increase. Cortisol is a stress hormone. The higher a person’s cortisol level is, the more likely they are to experience depression or anxiety. In other words, you can talk yourself into depression or anxiety.
Depending on what you focus on, you can make yourself stressed out and depressed or you can make yourself content and satisfied.
It’s your choice. What will you choose today?