Your "Attention Radar" – Choosing Your Focus

RASHave you ever taken training or coaching where someone was working hard to gift you with gems of wisdom or a different way of looking at things? Do you know if you were truly open to the information being given?

One of the most difficult situations is when a coach or mentor is trying hard to move you forward and your door is closed!

A great way to tell if you’re being receptive is to listen to your own response. The next time someone – a coach, boss, trainer, or mentor – is making a concerted effort to encourage change, try to acknowledge that they have a different view you might not be seeing. Then ask yourself if you are actually leaving the door open enough to receive the gems of wisdom they offer.

  1. Are you taking time to hear what they are saying and turning it into a lesson to be utilized in your own life?
  2. Do you respond by defending the behaviours that keep you from moving forward?
  3. Do you use expressions such as “I DO that, but it never works.” Or “I try, but….” or “I AM…”
  4. Do you leap to conclusions about what others think of you, even though it’s not actuallywhat they were saying?
  5. Do you hold tightly to beliefs that are clearly holding you back?

If so, then you might very well be trapped in a cyclical thought pattern based on buried beliefs and while you think the doors are open to hearing and recognizing opportunity and growth, they may very well be closed.

So, what’s really going on here?

Neuroscience has performed studies on an area in the brain called the Reticular Activating System or RAS. The RAS acts as a sort-of connector between your conscious and unconscious mind and filters information by “listening out for” things that are relevant to your conscious thoughts and focus. Basically, it controls our ability to pay attention. For example, when you are walking down the street there are literally hundreds of thousands of noises. You might hear a vibration or hum of noise in the background but you do not hear each and every individual sound, only those for which your focus is attuned, but it has it’s limits. Your brain is programmed to take in approx 5-9 individual items at a time and you hone in on those items because focus on them has been programmed by your conscious mind providing the “attention radar” for your unconscious mind.

A car horn signalling danger; familiar music coming from a store; your name being called from the other side of the street; all of these are items your subconscious will listen to because they are out of the ordinary in a typical walk and your conscious mind has made them a relevant focus in your life. Equally so, inadequecy or feelings of being persecuted or judged will fly into the face of a discussion if your belief system has been built under the experience of having to continually defend yourself. Basically you are ‘looking for it’ and so you will find it.

What great information for all of us –the beautiful thing neuroscience teaches us here is that the Reticular Activating System can be reprogrammed, or you can change what you are ‘looking for’. This is why setting goals, saying affirmations and visualizing ìn the conscious are the beginning of the journey to realizing our dreams because they speak to our unconscious mind, the place-holder for our belief systems.

Learning how to listen and embrace information with an open heart and mind can be done with practice and by learning strategies and techniques for reprogramming your RAS. The first step is in recognizing if you are listening openly, take a few minutes to evaluate your recent conversations against the above list – are you truly open? If not, then you will benefit from learning strategies for discovering and challenging belief systems that hold you back and practicing techniques to reprogram your RAS thus putting the “attention radar” on that which will help you grow and move forward.

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Comments

  1. I think about theprogramming I received as a flight controller in NASA’s mission control. There, we listen to a dozen or so voice channels simultaneously. Whenever I hear the word, “Rendezvous” I immediately perk up. That was my call sign in mission control, and usualy it means that someone is calling me. My mind would flow along with the chatter, but the instant it heard “Rendezvous”, instantly my attention would focus on that one conversation and filter out all the others.

  2. The listen to your own response Q’s for evaluation are excellent insights. As coaches, we have to be coachable, and this is fine information to help us process our own practice.

    Well done – kudos!

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