Isn’t it funny how often our focus is pulled toward what we don’t want in our lives? When we are not happy with a relationship, a job, our health, the state of the world, or even the shape of our body, we so easily focus on all the details of what we don’t like about these things. This results in us believing there are very few solutions to the given ‘problem’ and these solutions usually feel pretty darn crappy anyway! We forget how powerful it is when we shift our attention to how we DO want to feel in our lives and our world. This shift immediately taps up back into the feeling of possibility, which is a game changer.
This time last year, I had just been diagnosed with cancer. I got the call that the biopsy and genetic testing had come back suggesting an aggressive form of thyroid cancer. I was shocked. I shook for two solid hours. I sat on the couch trying to make sense of this news. I thought about lots of things I did not want to happen. I felt terribly powerless, which catapulted me back to a time in my life many years earlier when I was chronically ill for 8 years in my 20’s. I felt a deep sense of dread as a vortex of powerlessness that had once blanketed my life during my chronic illness began to beckon me again.
Sitting on my couch, slowly trying to digest this latest news of cancer, some unexpected paradigm shifts began to seep into my awareness. I began to feel incredible appreciation for my thyroid and all she’d been doing on my behalf all my life and for the million other things in my body that were working spectacularly well (This appreciation only grew with time, resulting in a fabulous Thywell Appreciation Party before she headed out to her next adventure!). I was acutely aware of how I did not want to feel as I went through this experience, but how DID I want to feel? Simply asking myself this question felt empowering.
I noticed that the faster I shifted my focus back to how I wanted to feel as I moved through my experience, the more relief I felt. I repeatedly let go of exactly how I wanted things to look or turn out and instead focused on how I wanted to feel as I moved through it. I reminded myself that I did not have to know how or where or when the clarity and empowerment would show up, but I knew that’s what I wanted to feel no matter what turn my cancer took. And you know what? It came, little by little, from a variety of different places until one day, I felt 100% clear what my next steps needed to be and I felt empowered moving through the process.
As many of you know, I am now joyfully cancer free:-) Woohooo! What started as a scary, powerless ordeal turned into an empowering and transformative experience despite the presence of cancer. Focusing on how I wanted to feel and purposefully noticing the things in my body and my life that were going well in the midst of cancer – these were game changers for me.
I realized a couple months ago that I’d gotten away from practicing this subtle, powerful tool. My mind had resorted to consistently working overtime to find solutions to EVERYTHING and the solutions showing up didn’t feel one bit good! My sense of possibility was all but dead as my mind’s focus searched for anything and everything in my life that wasn’t going ideally. It even started ‘future tripping’ to focus on things that I MIGHT not want to happen in the future! I’d wake in the night and my mind would gleefully jump on board to rifle through my life to find things going on that I did not want. And then I’d be up for hours! Given enough time in that perspective, my outlook and sense of hope and possibility became notably limited.
And then I remembered the power of my focus! I began to purposefully identify how I wanted to FEEL and to notice anything and everything in my life that was going well, which turned out to be a lot! My mind was initially not too psyched when I made it clear that I was once again in charge and that despite her best intentions to keep me safe, we were shifting gears, but over time, she got on board. And like magic, possibilities began to show up again as my outlook and perspective shifted with this purposeful focus.
I am again reminded of the power of our focus as another year approaches. What happens when we ask ourselves how we DO want to feel in our relationships, jobs, health, and lives in the coming year? How does it change things when we make a point to notice all the things in our lives that ARE going well? What possibilities does this tap us into that we were previously blind to? We don’t have to have any idea how we will get there or exactly what it will look like, but we can know that that’s where we want to go and where we are headed.
I invite you to join me in taking the time to tune in to how you DO want to feel in the coming year and to notice what IS going well in your life RIGHT NOW. And then watch your sense of possibilities expand! I wish you a fabulous year ahead filled with new possibilities, love, joy, laughter and ease!
Emily Colwell, MSSW, ND