Where We Give Our Attention Matters Most4 min read

When I was a little girl, my brothers used to tease me. Every time I was teased or called names by them, I allowed myself to become emotional. One day when I was upset, my father said to me, “Nicholeen, if you don’t let the teasing work, then it won’t be fun for them and they’ll stop teasing. You have to choose not to give any of it your attention.”

Eric Broaderick said, “That which we choose to give attention gains power.” This is so true. If we keep entertaining our stressful thoughts, then that stress overpowers us. If we entertain thoughts of gratitude, then we feel more connected to the people we are grateful for and find more happiness. Adults and children alike can find increased happiness if they realize what they focus on is up to them.

During these times of uncertainty, we must not entertain thoughts of stress, fear, frustration, or anger by giving them our attention. When we do this, we are giving those negative thoughts power over us. Instead, we must choose to entertain thoughts of truth, peace, connection, gratitude, hope, and purpose so that we can continue to have the power we need to spread happiness and accomplish our life’s purposes.

Power comes by consistently choosing what we want to focus on. It’s so easy to become distracted by thoughts that defeat us or lead to disconnection and emotional bondage. But it’s possible to change our minds if we choose to, and to help our children weather these times by teaching them to choose where they want to focus their attentions on, too.


Teaching Children to Have Power


More than ever before, we need to be up-beat about life when we’re with our families. Of course, our children need to know what’s going on around them politically, socially, physically, and spiritually, and we need to talk to them about those things. But, they don’t need to give the majority of their attention to the troubles they see. We can teach the children to give their attention to family connections, productivity, and following truth.

I recently got a special video sent to me from a father who was teaching his daughter to follow instructions. He kindly told her the steps to the skill, and she focused on learning those steps. She looked at her father. She kept a calm face, voice, and body. She said, “okay,” did the task immediately, and checked back with her father.

When this young girl said, “I did it. Is there anything else I need to do,” he looked into her eyes, smiled, and gave her such sweet praise. Her face beamed as her father connected to her and showed her that he saw her potential and goodness.

If we want our children to better weather these tumultuous times, we must do as this father did and help our children point their attention toward what they can accomplish and skills they need for success. Learning to govern ourselves and develop problem solving skills is a worthwhile goal for people of all ages. But for our children, it very well may be the difference between a life as a victim of circumstance and a purpose-filled life as an influencer for good.


Parents Are The Best Teachers


A young mother said to me recently that she didn’t think she could overcome her parenting problems because they had been going on for so long. After a detailed description of what had been going on in her relationships with her children, I could tell that this mother had lost hope. She had a habit of giving her attention to what was wrong, and rarely gave much attention to what changes she needed to make in herself or her family relationships to solve the problems. She knew she had problems, but the problems seemed too big to do anything about. So, she thought exclusively about the problems as she hoped they would one day go away on their own.

When we spoke, I challenged her to analyze how she was thinking, instead of focusing so much on what she was thinking. I also suggested that she use a skill I call Accepting A “No” Answer because her circumstances were a disappointment to her, just like getting a “no” answer can feel like a disappointment. One of the steps in the skill is to “drop the subject.”

When she realized that dropping the subject was her choice, she said, “That is going to be the hardest part for me. I think the reason my problems don’t improve is because I don’t drop subjects inside my head.”

This good mother learned how to give attention to where she wanted it to go instead of where she felt she was trapped, and her relationships and happiness level all improved.

What is most important to you? What do you think about or do most? Do those things match? If not, you may want to change where you are giving your attention, for when you align your attention with your priorities, you’ll find focus, purpose, and increased happiness. “That which we choose to give attention gains power.”

Learn more skills of self-government with this FREE Calm Parenting Toolkit.