Focus On You, Not Your Problem

Focus

What if I could show you a way to overcome the biggest obstacles in your life that was totally different than the advice you get everywhere else – and what if it really worked? I’m talking about obstacles such as smoking, drinking, anger, overeating, staying up too late, bad relationships or even drug and pornography addictions. Think for a moment about the biggest obstacle that is holding you back in your life. Think about how you’ve been dealing with it. What I want to present today is a better approach to eliminating it from your life.

In order for me to more clearly explain this I want to use a visual example.

The Trail of Life

Obstacle1

Picture yourself walking down a trail (which is exactly what I happen to be doing right now as I record this.) You are walking along a path. This path is your life. You are walking along the trail of life. As you move forward along this trail of life you are progressing and moving forward in your life. A simple analogy.

The Obstacle in Your Path

Now you are going along your merry way and you come across a huge boulder in the trail. It covers the entire path and blocks your way. You can’t go any further. It’s a huge obstacle in your way. You look at the boulder and you think, “How am I going to deal with this? I’ve got to somehow get it out of my way.”

Focusing On Your Obstacle Doesn’t Work

You try pushing on the boulder. You put your back up against it and push with your feet and it doesn’t budge. You run at it and hit it with your shoulder and it doesn’t move. You try to go around it but it’s so big you can’t get around it. You try to climb over it but it’s just too tall. You try to dig under it. You get down on your knees and try to dig with your hands. You scratch and scrape and dig in the hard ground and you make very little progress. You work and work on that boulder and try every way possible to get rid of it and no matter what you do you fail. The more you work on this boulder the more frustrated you get, the more tired you get, the more discouraged you get. It just can’t be done.

Finally you sit down on the trail because you feel like giving up. You think, “What am I going to do? I try and try to get this boulder out of my way and no matter what I do I can’t seem to overcome it.” It’s extremely discouraging and frustrating to you.

The boulder represents the biggest struggle or obstacle you face in your life. This is the thing that’s holding you back the most in your life. You have tried and tried and struggled for years to get rid of this problem from your life with no success.

Change Your Focus

The big revelation here is that you’ve been focusing on the wrong thing. You’ve been putting all of your time and energy and attention into your problem. Strange as it may be, that’s the wrong place to put it.

Obstacle2

I’ve had the opportunity to meet with a number of people who have come to me for counsel with huge issues and problems in their lives that they have struggled with for months and years. Generally this is the case: they have put all their focus and energy on the problem. Usually I will take out a sheet of paper and draw a simple picture of them on the trail with the big rock that stands in their way. I tell them that their focus and energy has been on the wrong thing, on their problem. I then draw a big arrow pointing at the problem.

Work On You, Not Your Problem

Then I draw another arrow pointing at them and say, “This is where you need to be focusing, not on your problem but on yourself.” For most people this is an entirely new concept, something they have never considered. It is the idea that they need to worry and focus on themselves, not their problem.

What does this mean?

Let’s say you are trying to quit smoking. Normally you put all of your efforts into trying not to smoke. You get rid of your cigarettes and you get the nicotine patch and you do the typical things people do to try to quit smoking. It’s constantly on your mind as you try to overcome your smoking habit.

Let’s say it’s overeating. That’s a fairly common one. You struggle so hard to not eat bad foods. You have a long list of the foods you shouldn’t eat and you try everything possible to conquer your habit of overeating.

What I say is that it doesn’t work. What you need to do is focus on strengthening the character traits in yourself that are incompatible with your habit or problem.

In the case of overeating, instead of focusing on not eating certain foods, your focus and energy would be on yourself as far as eating healthy food and exercising. Your focus would be on yourself as a fit and healthy person, instead of focusing on what you don’t want. You get your mind off the boulder and onto yourself.

Obstacle3

Picture in your mind the visual image of you on the trail with the obstacle in your path – the obstacle doesn’t change, you do! You grow! You become large. Compared to you, your obstacle is tiny! It’s not an issue any more because you simply step over it and go on your way. You never even deal directly with the problem because it is now so insignificant. You’ve grown and strengthened yourself so much in that particular area that it’s no longer a problem for you.

Does it Really Work?

You may be wondering if this method really works. Let me share with you a story that happened recently. I was working with a young man who was struggling with pornography. He hated it. He wanted to be free of the temptations and had struggled for some time on his own to stop. Each time he gave-in to temptation he would tell himself, “I’m never going to do that again” only to have it happen again in a few days. He failed because he focused on the problem.

As I worked with him I drew on a chalkboard the picture of the person on the trail with the big obstacle in the way. I told him to quit worrying about his problem and start working on himself.

We came up with some ways that he could strengthen himself spiritually. He determined that he would sincerely pray and read scriptures every day. He also decided to be nicer to his family and just be a better person.

For a number of weeks he worked at this and would report back to me from time to time. Several days ago we met again. He told me that when we began this program the temptations would still come back from time to time. Then he told me that for the last few weeks the temptations were totally gone. He said they never even crossed his mind. He said, “I never even thought about not thinking about it. It was just totally gone.” You should have seen the big smile on his face as he left my office.

My Challenge to You

I would like to challenge you to try this. Determine what is the biggest obstacle you face in your life. What is the thing that holds you back the most? How have you dealt with it? Have you put all your energy into fighting this obstacle directly? If so, I challenge you to change your focus and work on yourself. Make yourself bigger and stronger in the character traits that are incompatible with your obstacle. Work on those every day. Grow yourself to the point where all you need to do is step over your obstacle and continue on you path in life. May you succeed as I have seen many others succeed.

What are your thoughts on dealing with the obstacles your face? What methods have you used to combat these obstacles and have you met with success? Please share your thoughts and/ or experiences in the comments below.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

The Power of Decisions

Decisions

I want to talk today about the power of decisions. When you think about any change that you’ve ever made in your life, didn’t it really happen the moment you made a decision? Sometimes we say, “Oh it’s hard to change, it took me forever to change.” Usually what takes forever is getting yourself to the point of deciding. It’s the “getting ready to get ready to change” that’s takes so long. You really didn’t make any changes until you decided to change.

So you can say today, “That’s it! I’m done. I’m never going to do that again” or “this is the way I’m going to be from now on.” It’s the power of a decision. No change was ever made in anybody’s life without first deciding. Once you make a decision then you can move forward. A lot of times you say, “Oh it’s so hard to change, it’s so hard to do this, it’s so hard to do that” but really it’s not hard because you’re really not doing it yet, you’re really not making any effort until you decide.

The decision – when things begin to happen

Once you have made that decision, things start to happen in your life. Making that one single decision, saying from this point on, from this time, this minute, this second, I am going in a new direction. I am no longer going in the direction I was going. I have turned my life. I am headed in a new direction and everything I do and everything I say and everything I feel is different. This gets you on the road. You won’t totally change your life in a day but you will be amazed at how quickly you move in that direction.

Think for a moment about the story that Charles Dickens wrote, A Christmas Carol. Think about Scrooge. Think about what happened to him, how in an instant his life changed. After he was shown all the pain and misery of his past and the mistakes that he had made, and the person that he had become, and then as he looked into the future and was shown what his future would be if he continued on that path, if he continued in that direction – he made a decision, in an instant. He changed his direction. He changed his glasses, his lenses that he sees his life through. Suddenly everything changed.

Can you change in an instant?

Is it possible for a person to change in an instant? I believe it is. Think about Scrooge and how he changed in an instant. He totally changed his direction. He became a different person. Now, did everything change in his life all at once? No! But his direction changed and the lens through which he looked at life changed. The lens through which he made decisions, his feelings, his actions changed by changing that lens that he looked through. He changed the direction that he was headed in his life. Everything changed and he was now on the road in a different direction to a different life, to becoming a different person. You can do the same. You can make that change.

Now you don’t have to have spirits come to you in the night to show you the mistakes you have made in the past. You can do that on your own. Review your past. Review the pain that you’ve had in your life by going the direction you’re going right now. Think about all the pain you’ve suffered through. Think of all the opportunities that you’ve missed because of the actions and direction you’ve taken in your life. Think about where you could have been now.

Ponder your future

Think about your future. If you continue on the road that you are on now where will you be one year from now? Will you be any better of a person? Will you continue down hill? What about five years from now? Where will you be if you continue on this road that you’re headed without changing? What will your life be like? Is that where you want to be? Is that where you want to go? Experience the pain of this. Think about it. What kind of a life do you want? What kind of person do you want to be? Do you want to continue heading in the direction that you’re heading right now? Is that what you want? No!

As you experience this pain of your past mistakes and what it will mean to you in the future if you don’t make any changes – let it sink deep down into your heart, into your mind, into your emotions. Feel this pain and make a decision now, at this moment, that you will not put up with this any more, that you will not live another second in this world headed in that direction, that you are tired of tripping up, falling down, making mistakes, following the easy path and suffering the misery from this. You want better things in life.

You know deep down inside of you is a different person, a better person, a great person, a person with potential. The real you is deep down inside you. You know who the real you is and it’s trying to get out. Why not let him out now? Defeat the old “you” and let the new “you” out. You can do all this with the power of decisions.

Copyright © 2014 Gary N. Larson

How to Make Opposition Work for You

Opposition

Have you ever tried to persuade someone to your way of thinking only to be confronted by heavy opposition? Although it may sound illogical, opposition can actually be a good thing when trying to influence and persuade others.

Opposition can be good

Every time we are engaged in an attempt to influence someone we need to evaluate whether that person is receptive to our efforts or not. Normally when we encounter opposition we tend to feel our efforts are failing. Strange as it may seem, that’s not necessarily the case.

Opposition means you still have a chance

Let’s suppose you are in a meeting and you are presenting an idea and someone in the meeting begins to challenge it. They throw up opposition by arguing why it can’t be done or why it shouldn’t be done or why your idea isn’t a good idea. Your first thought is to think that the person will be impossible to persuade to your way of thinking. Actuallythe opposite is true. It’s the person who agrees immediately with your ideas and wants to move on that usually is not going to take any action in that direction. The person who is actually giving you opposition and is actively engaged in a discussion about it is much more likely to be persuaded.

If the other person agrees too easily 

Let me give you an example. Let’s suppose you know someone who is in very poor health and you tell them, “You know, you really ought to go see a doctor and get a checkup.” That person can handle that suggestion is two ways.

The first way is to agree with you immediately and say, “Yes, you’re right. I should go see a doctor and get a checkup.” They don’t argue with you at all. They immediately agree with you but inside they know that they have no intention whatsoever of going and seeing a doctor. They want to agree with you immediately so they can move on. They want to get past the subject. They don’t want to discuss it. They know on one level that you’re right, but on another emotional level they have many internal reasons they don’t want to see a doctor. It could be that they are afraid of what the doctor may find out. It could be that they can’t afford it. It’s going to cost them money and they don’t want to spend it. It could be that they already know what the doctor is going to tell them. The doctor is going to tell them they need to cut out certain foods and they need to exercise and they are not ready to deal with that right now.

So they will agree with you immediately so they can get off the subject and move on. You haven’t persuaded them at all but they want you to think that you have. So when someone agrees with you immediately it’s a sign that they are closed to discussion.

If the other person disagrees 

The second way they can respond is to disagree with you. If they argue with you about it, then the channels of persuasion are still open. They will say things like, “You know, I don’t really want to go to the doctor. It’s too much of a hassle and I don’t trust doctors.” If they oppose you, if there is opposition there, then the conduit of persuasion is still open.

You may think just the opposite is true when they agree with you. You think you have persuaded them but when they oppose you and argue with you, you think that you haven’t persuaded them. Opposition doesn’t mean that you have persuaded them but it does mean that the lines of communication and the channels of persuasion and influence are still open and that you still have that opportunity. They still haven’t made up their mind internally. There’s an internal conflict. So they may be arguing with you on the outside but internally they are arguing with themselves about whether they should or they shouldn’t pursue the particular course you are suggesting.

Pay attention to the responses you get

The next time you are in a situation where you need to persuade others to your way of thinking, pay attention to their response. If there is opposition then you still have a good chance to change their minds.