An easy way to focus the mind and reduce anxiety
With so much uncertainty throughout the world at the moment, more of us are feeling anxious than ever before and this technique for focusing your mind is one that I have used throughout my grief journey, but also throughout my professional career and in other aspects of my life too. The technique is based around the sphere of influence and encourages you to centre your thoughts around things that you can control.
For those that prefer to watch a video, here I am giving an overview and a couple of small practical examples about how I use this technique and I've written a summary below.
Declutter your mind, one thing at a time
The idea behind the sphere of influence is to take the things that are in our minds or on our to do list and group them into three buckets and you start to do this by asking yourself 2 simple questions.
Bucket 1: Is it something I can control?
Bucket 2: Is it something I can influence?
Bucket 3: Everything else
Is it something I can control?
Answering yes to this question means this item is something that deserves your focus and attention. Get a pen and paper, open notes in your phone or however you find it easiest to remember things, it's time to get these out of your head. Start listing steps you can take or things you can do to control it so that the outcome is positive.
For example, one of the things I was worried about after Lauren died was that Molly would feel different as she moves into primary school because the majority of the other girls in her class would have a parent that could do their hair nicely, seems silly I know, but I want to limit the impact of her loss on her everyday life as she's lost enough already. I could only do a rubbish pony tail at best! So, I decided this was something I could control, I started to teach myself watching YouTube videos and posting my finished masterpieces (or not) to Facebook for friends and family to give advice and suggestions. Now it's something that I don't worry about at all.
Is it something that I can influence?
Those things in your mind or on your task list that you don't control should automatically take a back seat in your priority lists and brain space. So this next question helps you to organise what's left, by determining if you can take any steps or actions to influence the final outcome.
It might be that the final decision on a business activity lies with your boss and the only way you can influence that decision is by creating a structured proposal that ticks all of the boxes. By acknowledging this and identifying what you can do to influence the decision it gives you some clear actions to try and ensure the outcome favours you positively.
What about everything else?
The things that we can't control or influence have a way of fogging up our brain space and making things seem much more difficult than they need to be. I'm not suggesting that these things won't affect you, losing my wife was completely out of my control and impacts my life and mentality daily. But, throughout Lauren's fight with cancer and since her death, by acknowledging there is nothing I can do to change these things and by focusing on the things identified in buckets 1 and 2. I've found that I move forward rather than stay still and that I have enough things to focus on where I'm able to make the difference that I tend to worry less about the things where I can't make any difference to the outcome at all.
If you're wanting to give this a try, my advice would be to write things down, start listing all of the things whizzing around your mind and apply the sphere of influence. Explore each thing and really challenge yourself to turn each one into a list of actions that you can focus on. Centre yourself around the things you can control and this should help you to feel like you're making progress and working your way through the fog.
Thanks for reading and being a part of our journey!