The Power of Attention, Part Four

Attention is All You Have

Gaining control over your attention may seem to be the hardest thing you have ever tried to do in your life. After all, you are turning it forcefully in the opposite direction it is accustomed to going.

Attention is what keeps us safe and alive. Attention is your ally. The natural state of being a human being is fearless, and attention is the interface between you and the world but, in a mind controlled by the fear of life, the usefulness of attention is corrupted.

Usually, the mind divides stimuli into three categories: positive, negative, or indifferent. In the unconscious conviction that everything that appears is a threat that you must defend yourself against, much of the energy of attention is wasted in trying to protect you from nonexistent dangers.

Attention is a survival mechanism. It is useful to protect your life when there is a physical danger to your body. It is a protection mechanism and it serves to keep you alive. If a truck comes down the road and seems to be coming in your direction, it is natural to be afraid. Fearful reactions to imminent danger are natural. This is natural fear and it is not neurotic. Worrying all the time about how a truck could hit you at any moment, or how you could have a life-threatening disease when there is no clear evidence that that is the case, is a neurotic mechanism in the mind. Those are the soldiers of fear trying to keep you enslaved.

After the end of the Second World War, there were still hundreds of Japanese soldiers on the Pacific Islands, thinking the war was still going on. They kept fighting for years, unaware that the war was actually over.

The fearful psychological mechanisms left behind after the act of looking at yourself removed the context of fear at the bottom of your mind are soldiers of fear. They are still trying to fight the war, unaware that it is over.

When you look at yourself, the war is over. There may be a lot of cleanup work to do, but there is really no more reason to continue fighting.

Declining to give your attention to disturbing false thoughts is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but you can do it. Many hundreds of people have done it already. It is a slow process, but it is cumulative. When you notice a thought for what it is and decline to attend to it, that conscious movement of attention is not forgotten, and it will inform you the next time you are confronted by another neurotic thought pattern.

Next: Understanding your Mind

One thought on “The Power of Attention, Part Four

  1. It doesn’t happen very often that I think of the option of turning my attention away from a fearful or depressive idea. Needless to say, when I finally get around to doing it, it seems as if it’s a drop in the bucket, and my mind will never shut up. Therefore any aspect about controlling one’s attention that stresses the cumulative nature of it is welcome. Actually, the internal reminder about the futility of a current thought and what I can do about it has started to come up for me more often already.

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