What we focus on, we create into our reality

We've all heard it before, the cliche people keep telling us when we are having a difficult time:

"Stay Positive!" :)

I find it more helpful to learn the ins & outs of WHY that would create a lasting impact exactly, especially during the darkest moments when I need more reasons to help to convince my stubborn mind.

According to studies & researches, our brain controls what we focus on, choose how we perceive things/people/events in our lives, and our perceptions then affect & create our reality, through certain automatic functions that our brain operates on: The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, The Social Proof Theory & Experience-Dependent Neuroplasticity.

The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon,

otherwise known as the frequency illusion or recency bias, is a situation where something you recently learned about suddenly seems to appear everywhere. There are two reasons for this phenomenon --

First, Selective Attention, which means your brain is subconsciously seeking out more information on the subject (in this post: things to complain about or things to appreciate).

Second, Confirmation Bias, which means every time you see something related to the subject, your brain tells you that it's proof of your personal opinion about the subject.

The Social Proof Theory

(first coined by psychologist Robert Cialdini), states that someone who doesn't know how to act or think will imitate other people, or turn to peers for guidance.

What does this have to do with the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon? Well, think about it: the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon maintains that you'll see or hear something more if you've recently learned about it. Suddenly you started seeing, hearing, noticing it everywhere.

In other words, you selectively listened to people discussing the thing you focus on because you'd recently learned about it, and then social proof led you to believe it in some way, either positive or negative, forming your strong opinion about it.

As you can see, these two psychological phenomenons work together to convince someone to perceive their world in a certain way.

Confirmation bias means someone looks for evidence to confirm what they already believe, even when that evidence is largely neutral. This means once you believe something to be true; For example: (a limiting belief that) your life is miserable & the world is out to get you, you will look for evidence everywhere to support it and ignore evidence that contradicts it.

What you focus on is what becomes powerful. It is real and comes fortified with some serious science, they named it experience-dependent neuroplasticity.

At the heart of the research is the finding that experience changes the brain. Just think about that for a minute: You have an incredible capacity to change your brain through your experiences. It is constantly shaping itself to be the best one it can be for us. Our experiences are the fuel for this shaping and everything we see, feel, experience, sense, and do is slowly but surely changing the architecture of our brains, sending gentle instruction on how they can build to best support us.

Every time you have an experience, the relevant neurons switch on and start firing. As this happens, neural connections get stronger and new synapses start growing.

Experience doesn’t just affect change by creating new connections and strengthening existing ones. It also seems to reach into our genes (the tiny atoms in the DNA inside the nuclei of neurons) and change the way they function.

Regular practice of Mindfulness, for example, will increase the activity of genes that have the capacity to soothe a stress reaction in the heat of a moment, ultimately making you more able to deal with stress. Learning and repeated experience will change the brain according to the job it was needed for.

Everything you experience will alter the physical structure of your brain in some way. The things you do, the people you spend time with, every feeling, thought, and automatic experience will influence the wiring of your brain to make you who you are and to influence who you can become.

Your brain will build and change whether you like it or not. It’s so important to build it in the direction you want it to build it.

Your attention and focus will always be somewhere – maybe many places – which means there are wirings and firings happening all the time, strengthening what’s there or creating something new.

If you aren’t deliberate and conscious in shaping your brain, other people and experiences will do this for you. Experiences, situations, and people – positive or negative – will leave lasting traces on your brain by way of strengthened neural pathways.

If you let your mind settle on self-criticism, self-loathing, pain, distress, stress, worry, fear, regret, guilt, these feelings and thoughts will shape your brain. You will be more vulnerable to worry, depression, anxiety, and be more likely to notice the negatives of a situation, frame things in a negative way, and be barrelled off track by what you could have or should have done.

On the other hand, if you focus on positive feelings (like what you have, what you can do, or gratitude) and frame situations with a tilt towards the positive, eventually your brain will take on a shape that reflects this, hardwiring and strengthening connections around resilience, optimism, gratitude, positive emotion, and self-esteem.

When you have the good on your radar, let your mind settle on it for long enough to start the neurons firing in your brain. Don’t just notice it, feel it. Hold on to it for at least 20 seconds. After this time, the experience will be hardwired into your brain, firing neurons and strengthening the connections that will ultimately shape your experience.

This will start to grow these parts of your brain and shape a brain that is able to notice the good, respond to the bad, and move forward, rather than stay stuck.

If the positive experience isn’t ready and waiting in front of you, do what you can to create it.

It doesn’t have to be amazing special experiences. Try reminiscing on a fund memory, listening to an empowering song (this is why I have a playlist on my iPhone called "Make Me Happy", or you can go on Spotify to search for Tony Robbin's UPW playlist), making a phone call to a family or friend who is encouraging & a good listener, playing or doing something that makes you feel nurtured.

When you do, make the feeling stay. It might want to fade away, but don’t let it, not straight away.

Like any habit, noticing the good takes time to become automatic. Notice how quickly you notice the bad and let go of the good. Be deliberate in balancing things up and gradually, this in itself will also change your brain.

Of course, a good reminder that it’s always important to feel bad, to sit with it, and to explore the lesson/wisdom that it contains. The wisdom will always in there somewhere. Avoidance of negative emotions will results in side effects later on in life, so when the experiences happen, let the feelings stay for long enough to let them do their important work. Notice the bad, feel it, let it bring you new wisdom, but don’t keep watching it in the rearview mirror when there are other things around you that can start to move you forward.

What you focus on is powerful. The brain will build around what it rests upon. Whether we view the world through a lens that is sad or happy, optimistic or hopeless, whether we are open to love or quick to close it down is all directed by our brain.

What you pay attention to will shape your brain, which in turn will shape your experiences, your relationships, your life.

This really shows how different we perceive the world around us, even if it's two siblings growing up in the same household. For it is the Opinions & Meaning we give to the experiences that determines our actions & behaviors.

By being more aware of these automatic procedures our brain operates on (as how it was evolved to survive in the hunter-gatherer era), we can start paying more attention to WHAT WE PAY ATTENTION TO, HOW LONG we stay there & HOW that forms & impacts our life.

Mindfulness Practices can help us be more self-aware.

Repetition is needed to retrain our brain, that is why I created the virtual Mindfulness Art Workshops, wanting to offer another platform to do bring our awareness into the present, and reflect upon ourselves through the process of learning simple art skills & creating something beautiful.

Don't miss out & sign up for our weekly Workshops or masterminds!!


With Love,