noun: the center of interest or activity.
verb: pay particular attention to
“Jo just focus.” I have heard my mom say this to me many times throughout my life. It usually is after one of our long discussions about something that I am disagreeing with her about, aka an argument.
I consider myself a very passionate and outspoken person and I would say that it is definitely something that runs in my family. Over the years when I was trying to make my point or if I disagreed with someone, especially my mom, I would allow my emotions to hijack me and I would go off on rants and completely lose focus.
This happened often and left me feeling drained and exhausted. I considered myself a very clear communicator and yet in certain environments I was all over the place. I had lost focus of what I was trying to communicate because I had allowed my emotion to distract me.
I found that that same pattern was trickling into other relationships in my life as well. I was getting distracted and losing focus and allowing my emotions to take over. Here is what that looked like. I was always on the defensive. Argumentative and on edge. I was angry.
I would “focus” on things that were irrelevant and make a big deal to distract from reality. I had learned to use this to cover up all that was really going on in my life.
On the outside my life appeared to be perfect, but nothing could be further from the truth. I know some think there is no such thing as a perfect life, but I disagree. I believe that a perfect life is based on what a person has identified brings them joy and they are able to experience it on a daily basis.
Living an authentic life is what I consider a perfect life.
I was living a lie. The opposite of an authentic life. My marriage wasn’t working and hadn’t worked for over a decade. I believed that if I tried hard enough that it would all work . I had gotten so distracted by what I thought was important that I had lost focus. I had lost myself. This made me angry and I took it out on others.
I often look back at that version of me and wonder what if I had put all of that effort and attention on myself? What would that have looked like? The truth is I had chosen to focus on all the others in my life to distract from all of the work I still needed to do on me.
I chose a partner who would never be capable of truly having a partnership because it was a great place for me to hide. I took the focus and put it all on him. He never asked for this, it was my idea.
This allowed me to not focus on myself because I had the perfect excuse. I didn’t realize at the time what I was doing but now it is crystal clear. I created a distraction rooted in emotion that would allow me to not look at all of the parts of me that I didn’t like.
I projected this on to him and on to my family in many ways throughout the years. This is something that I am not proud of. The awareness of this however has shaped who I am today, and for that I am grateful.
So, what happened that gave me the focus I needed to live an authentic life? Cancer.
When you are healthy you have a million problems. When you receive a cancer diagnosis you have just one. Cancer gave me a singular focus and allowed me for the first time in my life to see clearly.
Believe me I would much have preferred a different messenger something a bit less life threatening …
I actually think I was receiving lots of messages throughout the years that were a lot more subtle than cancer but I ignored them. I thought I knew better and I was wrong.
Then in September of 2019 I got the call that everyone dreads but too many receive. Holy shit now what?
All of a sudden in that instant it was like a light switch went off and someone handed me a pair of glasses that put everything into focus.
I had to take a look at myself and only myself. People would say to me you need to do this for your girls but the truth is I never felt that way. I needed to heal and do it for myself.
From that moment on I became focused on myself first before anyone else. I no longer was hiding my issues by focusing on what everyone else needed or lacked. I instantly stopped putting pressure on myself to please others or to be the caretaker of the unhealed childhood wounds.
I started to heal my own childhood wounds. We all have them and I was so attached to mine that I would often revert back to the 16-year-old defensive girl who had decided she was going to have the last word and loudest voice in each conversation. This 16-year-old version of me that came up full of emotion to distract me from focusing on my true self.
The first step in this was to own what I had said and done -period. No excuses. I took complete responsibility for myself. I stopped blaming others. I focused on me.
Blaming is as addictive as crack cocaine. Not that I have ever smoked crack but I think you all understand the point I am trying to make. It feels so good in the moment and takes you out of the pain you are feeling because you are escaping by blaming others for whatever situation you are in.
We do this all the time. We have lots of help doing this as you can find that there is even encouragement from others to take that “hit” and commiserate with you about how your life is not your responsibility and it was someone else that has done this to you.
Reality is - shit happens to all of us. We have good things, hard things, tragic things etc but that is all part of the human experience. Taking responsibility for yourself and releasing blame is liberating and will allow you to see who you really are and give you the chance to focus on yourself.
Once you have focus on yourself then your entire life gets better. In every single way. You lose things that no longer serve you and you start to live an authentic life. Once you know who you are then you can truly serve others but not before that happens. You do not need to wait for some major wake up call like cancer or divorce to focus on you.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get start now:
- Stop Blaming others
- Stop talking about others
- Don’t make peoples opinion of you more important than your own