A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about arrested attention. I got some emails with questions about the subject and people wanting to dig a little deeper. So today I’m going to briefly dive back in.
My goal with these recent posts has been to give you a completely different understanding of freedom and power. The freedom and power to consciously choose what you want in every moment.
Arrested attention is something that revokes that freedom. If there’s something that keeps grabbing your attention and you’re not free from it, it also detracts from your power.
These concepts may seem obscure to some, but they are at the core of entrepreneurship. At some level, this is what the purpose of building a business is designed to bring up and designed to teach us about ourselves.
So let’s jump back in.
A Common Example of Arrested Attention
Let’s say you’ve noticed that your attention is arrested. It’s not immediately clear how to stop this from happening. How do you stop thinking about the thing you’re obsessively thinking about?
Retouching on the example from the previous post of being around a successful person or an attractive woman—when you’re around this type of person and you go into the internal dialogue of, what do I say, what do I do, how do I act? you’re in your head. And adding to that dialogue, one of the things you’re also telling yourself is, stop doing that!
Dealing with Arrested Attention the Wrong Way
The natural reaction when you have arrested attention is to go out of relationship with the thing and into relationship with your fantasy of it.
You’re around a successful person, you stop relating to the person and you start relating to your ideas about successful people and what they must think. You start to interact as if those internal beliefs are real and as if the fantasy is happening to you. In other words, if you believe successful people are smarter than you or beautiful women are all snobs, then you react as if the person thinks you’re stupid, or doesn’t think you’re impressive.
It creates a strange response because from their reality this fantasy is not true, so your reactions seem off base and you come across as awkward. That’s where awkward behavior comes from—being off base with reality.
The Solution to Arrested Attention
The fix is to get into relationship with the actual thing that’s arresting your attention. This means go closer to it, not farther away from it. Find out what the successful person or the woman is really like.
What’s their experience of success? How successful in fact are they? What’s their day like right now? Get into an actual state of relationship with them. The more in relationship you get, the less your attention will become arrested because, again, the closer you are to reality, the closer you are to the state of there being no problem.
Why This Fix is Effective
This is effective, first of all, because it takes you out of the story in your head and brings you back into reality.
Another reason it works is because there’s no bad news in reality. In other words, the here, the now is always perfect and beautiful.
You might be thinking, What if I talk to the girl and she’s like “get away from me”? That’s bad news. While that may seem true, think about the reality of it…
If she is automatically rude and dismissive and that actually doesn’t feel good to be around, then there’s no disappointment because you realize that this is not a connection you want.
For people, say, making sales calls, you’re calling people up cold and sometimes getting bitched at. When that happens, the reality of it is maybe the person is just having a really bad day and their response doesn’t reflect on you as a person.
There are only two messages: I love you and I’m afraid. I love you is for the other person and I’m afraid has nothing to do with the other person. However, it’s sometimes hard to depersonalize the message.
But that’s the indicated action I’m recommending. Give it a try. Get closer to the thing that’s arresting your attention and listen to the message. Then formulate your reality and react based on that instead of the fantasy.