You Get What You Pay Attention To
By Silver Rose
You Get What You Pay Attention To
The Law of Attraction says, “You get what you focus on.” I’ve often clarified this by saying that the way we ask for what we want is through our attention. Attention is simply another word for focus.
I’ve been filtering this concept through a book I’m currently reading about emotional dependence. I’ve been particularly fascinated with the chapters about “the martyr” and “the victim” because these are both categories into which I’ve fallen more than once in my life. In fact, when things are going badly for me, those are my default categories. Years of training don’t go away overnight.
In my workshop about how to handle emotions in the workplace, what I hear over and over from participants is some version of the following theme: if co-workers weren’t so negative, I would be just fine. How can I possibly rise about their moods?
So let’s examine Law of Attraction from a martyr’s standpoint. A martyr is someone who puts aside her own wants and needs to please someone else and then whines about it (either internally or externally). While the whining is going on, what is the martyr paying attention to? Usually she’s thinking what a good person she is for doing this and how no one appreciates her sacrifice. It is the latter that gets delivered over and over to a martyr. The more she does for others in self-sacrifice, the more she is surrounded by people who don’t appreciate what she has done. You get what you pay attention to!
A victim is someone who doesn’t think he’s done something voluntarily (like the martyr). The victim thinks he has no choice in the matter. You will typically hear the victim say things like, “What else can I do? There is no other way.” The more the victim sees himself as the only solution, the more he is surrounded by people who also see him as the only solution. You get what you pay attention to!
When you feel you are unable to rise about the emotional mood swings of those around you, you are either being a victim or a martyr. You’re either volunteering to be a sounding board for that person’s negativity (a martyr), or you’ve decided you have no choice but to be negatively impacted (a victim). Either way, you get what you pay attention to!
Here are some new things for you to try the next time someone around you is in a negative mood that would normally impact you:
1. Don’t volunteer to help. Wait to be asked. Nine out of ten times, this will avoid the problem altogether. Just because someone tells you a problem or complains within earshot doesn’t mean he’s asking for your help. Wait for the request. If it doesn’t come, do nothing!
2. If you ARE asked to help and you tend to be a martyr, make a list of all the reasons that person can and should handle the problem on his own, without your help. Then say to him, “I know you’re going through a rough patch right now and I wish you weren’t. I also know you’re strong enough to work through this and I’ll be cheering you on from the sidelines.”
3. If ARE asked to help and you’re more prone to be a victim, make a list of all the reasons that person can and should handle the problem on his own, without your help. Then say to him, “I know that I’ve helped you through things like this in the past.
This time I’d like to see you work it out on your own. I know you can. Any help I give you would only delay your ability to handle it. I’ll be here, cheering you on from the sidelines.”
I’m not going to lie to you and tell you it will feel good to do this the first few times. It might feel awful. You might be called “selfish” (gasp!) You are breaking a pattern you’ve probably had your entire life. What I will tell you is that eventually you will feel more in control than you have in a long time. You will also find your relationships are stronger because they will be based on friendship and caring rather than need.
The next time someone around you is being negative, silently wish them well and hold in your mind the image of them being victorious over whatever is bothering them. You’ll help them more than you know because you get what you pay attention to!