Saturday, April 28, 2007

The Law of Attraction (I mean, Attention)

I want to think about a saying I hate (because it has a cutesy Hallmark Cards quality) and love (because I agree with the concept):

Energy flows where attention goes."

Ohmygoshwow! It's the Law of Attraction!

No. It's physics. Performing any mental, physical, or emotional action requires energy. Thinking, exercising, grieving, loving, laughing, walking, working... it all takes energy. So of course, if I'm focusing my attention on (i.e., thinking about) a math test, my neurons are firing and energy is being expended toward that math test.

The more pertinent question, in my opinion, is: How much energy? How well is it being focused? And what measurable difference does it make?

If I sit on the couch thinking about all the ways I could eat better, but I shove potato chips and chocolate into my mouth because that's what I've got on hand, I'm not going to lose weight. If I focus on how beautiful my body will look once I've dropped 30 pounds, but I never get off the couch, my mirror will persist in displaying the same overweight image.

My attention is on eating better, until I get hungry; then, my attention focuses on convenience.

Hypnosis, NLP and NVC can be used to train the subconscious mind to focus attention in ways that serve our outcomes. Steps involve slowing down and noticing our habitual behaviors. Then, asking better questions:
  • Where am I putting my attention?
  • What am I feeling?
  • As I decide how to act, what factors am I paying attention to?
  • What needs or outcomes are in play?
  • Will the action I plan to take block me from my goal, or get me closer to it?
Making a decision -- to lose weight, find a new job, repair a marriage, increase compassion -- is a great step. Focusing attention on what you want is also a great step. But without action, attention, decision, and focus won't change anything.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Resolving Differences. BLAM! BLAM!

In the days following the tragedy at Virginia Tech, I've been fascinated by the battle of beliefs.

Some folks believe that had other students been armed, the gunman wouldn't have gotten as far as he did. The shooting bolsters their advocacy for legally owning and carrying firearms.

Other folks believe this is one more tragedy that would have been prevented with stricter gun control laws.

Each side has plenty of research and statistics to substantiate their claims, each side repudiates the research of the other, and neither side can comprehend the other's beliefs.

I think this is a pretty good demonstration of people observing the same event and drawing diametrically opposed conclusions. It's a phenomenon that happens, unseen, hundreds of times a day. Most of the time, we assume others think like we do. It's only when we stop keeping our thoughts and opinions to ourselves that disputes arise... and we have to collaborate on how we want to live together, what values we share, and what behaviors we are (or aren't) willing to tolerate.

I've been disappointed that the NVC and Social Change discussion list never mentioned the Virginia Tech shooting: not to offer prayers; not to discuss how NVC could have changed anything, at any step along the long path; not to discuss how NVC might have a measurable effect on preventing this kind of occurrence. I had hoped that people so focused on reducing violence would have something to contribute to the discussion.

NVC talks about "Empathy before Education" and "Connection before Correction," and I've seen little of this in the conversations about gun control. (I've heard lots of ridicule, however - each side saying the other must be brain damaged to hold the views they do). I like NLP's S.O.A.R. process.