Breaking In Your Dance Shoes

It’s astonishing how gifted we are at staying focused on what’s NOT working. It would be easy to understand if it accomplished what we want—to push away our problems. Instead, staying focused on the negative only attracts more problems, have you noticed? And worse, it makes us feel awful. Pushing at problems is a habit developed over many years, and it is a strong one.

I should know. Ever since I discovered the power of the Law of Attraction (you get what you focus on), I’ve been practicing for years to stay focused on the positive. You’d think I would have mastered the dance steps by now. And yet, I still have strong reactions of anger when things don’t go my way.

It turns out, this is actually a good thing. When strong negative emotions make you uneasy, it’s an indication that you’re used to feeling good most of the time and, as a result, your tolerance for discomfort is shrinking.

We all know people who seem to be constantly agitated. For them, when something goes wrong, their reaction is only a slight deviation from how they usually feel. As odd as it sounds, they’re comfortable with negativity. They’re used to it.

However, if you’re accustomed to feeling GOOD most of the time and something comes along that provokes a strong negative reaction, you feel incredibly uncomfortable because you are not used to it.

Think of your emotions like you do your feet. For the most part, you are unaware of your feet during the course of your days. They take you where you want to go and sit quietly with you when you’re not moving. You don’t even notice them—until you buy a new pair of shoes. When you’re breaking in new shoes, your feet hurt and suddenly, they become your entire focus. They demand your full attention–you can think of little else.

It’s what is referred to as “contrast.” When you are faced with circumstances that you really do not want, your desire for the opposite surges forth and in that moment, the clash is intense and so are your emotions. It is in that moment that we have the opportunity to turn our backs on what we don’t want and put our full focus on that which we do.

Unfortunately, few of us do that right away. And the longer you stay focused on what you don’t want, the more painful it becomes and the more you want to jump out of your skin.

Some of us, including yours truly, learn this lesson the hard way (and often!). If you’ve ever worn brand new shoes to a wedding, then you know what I’m talking about. The pain at the end of the day is indescribable. It’s why you often see unshod feet on the dance floor at receptions. In that moment, it’s the only solution.

When wrestling with problems, in order to get comfortable again it’s important to keep your attention on the end result you seek and to take your time. Just as we learn to break in those new shoes in increments, it is important to seek solutions to our problems in small increments. Even more important, it’s crucial to celebrate each bit of progress along the way.

Think of the pain of strong negative emotions as a signal. Your inner guidance system is saying, “If you stay focused where you are focused, you are NOT going to like the results!”

You wouldn’t wait until your feet are swollen and bloody to take tight shoes off. Don’t wait until you’re ready to explode to get some relief from the pain of focusing on what you don’t want. Once you realize you are really worked up, then stop and ask yourself, “What is it that I want most in this moment?”

The second question would be, “Do I have any control over getting it?”

If the answer is, “Yes,” then figure out a plan. If the answer is, “No,” you might wonder why in the world you’re getting so worked up. It would be like deliberately putting on a pair of shoes two sizes too small.

When you learn to use focus well, life becomes a joyful dance in your favorite pair of shoes.

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