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Stress Management: How to Use the Power of Focus

Here's a fun little experiment:

Take a few seconds and look around you, noticing and focusing on everything you see that is blue. Just look around and notice everything that is blue.

Now close your eyes, and tell me everything you noticed that is green.

Threw you a bit of a curve ball there, didn't I?

If you are like most folks, you were expecting me to ask you to name everything that was blue. Instead I asked for something different from which you had focused on.

Here's an interesting fact from the world of race car driving:

As I understand it, when new drivers are learning how to race, one of the first things they're taught is what to focus on when they go into a spin.

The natural tendency is for them to focus on the wall they're trying to avoid hitting - and they usually end up hitting the wall. They are taught instead not to focus on the wall, but on where they want to go. In this way, they have a better chance of avoiding the wall and successfully getting out of the spin.

The exercise and story both point to the incredible power of focus in our lives. Wherever we place our focus, the rest of our mind and emotions will follow.

So how do we learn how to do this focus stuff?

One of the quickest ways to begin to strengthen your focus muscles is to practice the 5-percent/95-percent rule. That means to focus no more than 5 percent on what you don't want and 95 percent on what you do want.

Focus 5 percent on what you fear and 95 percent on getting educated and skilled to face it.

Did you know that we all have fears? Even people who appear to fear nothing. The trick is not to have no fear but to work at becoming strong and skilled enough to face and conquer your fears.

Focus 5 percent on the problem and 95 percent on the healthiest solution.

Often it's easy to get caught in the endless definition and redefinition of a problem. "What's the problem?" is the wrong question. A better question is: "How many different solutions can we create?"

Focus 5 percent on the mistake and 95 percent on learning from it.

There's a wonderful story about a new employee of a large corporation who makes a $10,000 mistake in his first week on the job. Upon being called into the CEO's office at the end of the day, he tells his boss that he realizes he will be fired and that he is sorry for the mistake. To which the CEO replies, "Fire you? No way. I just spent $10,000 training you." I bet he became a valuable employee.

Focus 5 percent on who to blame and 95 percent on making sure to heal.

Getting stuck in blame sets you up to be lame. Focusing on healing allows you to move on with your life.

Focus 5 percent on the conflict and 95 percent on the win-win-win resolution.

Conflict, especially in families, does not always have to be a win-lose situation. In any conflict, each side has needs. The question is what kind of solution can be found that meets as many of each person's needs as possible.

Focus 5 percent on what you must do and 95 percent on enjoying the process of it.

"I have to," "I've got to," "I wish I didn't have to" are all phrases that focus on having to do things we don't want to do. Better words that shift your focus would be: "How can I get all this done and enjoy the process?"

Finally, and most important:

Focus 5 percent on reading this 95 percent on applying it.

When you drive, your car follows your nose.

When you live, your life follows your focus. Where's your focus

Visit for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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