As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I often talk about what it takes to build healthy relationships. But perhaps another question is, what does it take to derail a relationship? How do you push someone away? In other words, what contributes to becoming a bad partner? Here are 10 points to consider. They are […]
I want you to try something. Put a black dot on a white piece of paper. Now, look at the piece of paper and tell me what you see. Did you focus on that black dot in the center of the page? Or did you think about all the white space surrounding the dot?
Where you choose to put your focus is a matter of perception. And your perception shapes your reality.
Next, think about how you approach life problems. Do you focus on problems (the black dot) or on all the ways you can deal with those problems or the possibilities outside of the problem (the white space)?
Focus is related to mindset. You can be shaped negatively by all the negative things that happen in your life. your mindset is negative. Or you can have a positive mindset and respond in ways that help you grow and get through difficult times. How you respond shapes your perception of reality.
Elisa is a perfect example of this. She grew up in poverty with a single mom who worked day and night to put food on the table. After high school, Elisa determined that she would find ways to provide for herself and her mom. She worked two jobs and was grateful for the steady work. One day, she began to experience back pain and was eventually diagnosed with a rare type of cancer. Fighting for her life with few resources, Elisa remained positive. The nurses who gave her chemotherapy looked forward to Elisa’s visits. Rarely, had they met someone so positive despite her life circumstances. Elisa had a smile on her face, little money in her pocket, but talked about how blessed she was and how she would fight this cancer and make a better life for her family. Elisa saw the black dot, but chose to focus on the white space. She brightened the lives of those she touched. Her positivity was infectious. And surprisedly, she was happy.
We can’t always control the bad things that happen to us or remove difficult life circumstances. We do have a choice as to how to respond. We hold the paper of life in our hands and choose our focus—on the dot or the white space. When you focus on the dot, you feel down, discouraged, frustrated, maybe angry or even depressed. But when you focus on the white space, you see solutions, stay optimistic and hopeful. There is always light in the middle of darkness if you look for it.
For two day, try to focus on the white space and see what happens. No matter how many difficulties or problems you face, find something positive in the moment and focus on that. Do this over and over for two days and notice your mood. I am not asking you to ignore problems—notice them, do what you can to address them, but focus your mind on something positive related to those problems-look for a white space. Shift your focus away from the negative to the positive. Then see what happens! Evaluate how you feel and notice if your perspective changes.