focus bokeh
Find your focus: the solution, not the problem

Something occurred to me the other day. Well, it has occurred to me several times before, but sometimes it takes a few occurrences before your thoughts really begin to take shape. I spend too much time focusing on problems, and not enough time working on a solution.

For example, you get in an argument with a friend. The argument ends and you are upset. You go home feeling distraught, wondering if the friendship is going to be ruined by this argument. You go over what you said, and what they said. You think How could they say that to me? and other various lines of questioning about the argument. Your mood worsens. Your day or week goes on and you worry over the details. You wonder if you should call them, and also why they aren’t calling you. You go through the argument again and again in your head. You worry about irrational things and what ifs: What if we never talk again? What if they think this is my fault? What if they are telling other people it’s my fault? In your mind, the situation can very quickly snowball. It makes it difficult to actually have a good day and enjoy anything going on around you. It consumes you.

How many times has this happened to you? I often wear my heart on my sleeve, and am sometimes overly sensitive… so I find myself going through these motions often when an argument or situation arises. Going over and over things in my head can last for days, and I know it bothers me to no end when a situation like this goes unresolved. I can’t concentrate. I can’t enjoy life.

Recently, when something like this happened to me, I tried something new. I went through the process and went over the details in my head. I think this is a healthy exercise, and helps me identify exactly what happened. But rather than dwell on it and relive it over and over, or worry about things that may or may not happen, I stopped myself. Each time after that when my thoughts got rolling out of hand, I stopped myself then, too. Not only that, but rather than focusing so intently on the problem, and what happened, I began to try to think of a solution. I said to myself, “What can I do to fix this problem?” It dawned on me that shifting my focus from the problem, to working on a solution is the only positive action I could take to move forward.

I had to remind myself multiple times to stop the snowball of thoughts from getting out of hand, and I didn’t come up with a solution right away, but this process definitely helped! I didn’t feel terrible for days, until I could resolve the problem with the other person. I was able to enjoy the company of others without being grumpy or out of sorts. Thinking of a solution to the problem was a much more positive way of resolving things than dwelling on what went wrong.

Finally, I am learning to be able to file a problem away until the appropriate time. I was spending far too much time wallowing, and even bathing, in a problem, and not enough time enjoying what was right in front of me. We have only so much time on the planet; Why spend it bathing in ill feelings and worries about what if and reliving something you can’t change? Spend it moving forward!