Who’s in Charge of Your Attention?

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Ever feel like there isn’t enough time? This week I’m talking about the power of our attention. If we want to reclaim our time, we have to reclaim where our attention flows. Because if we aren’t intentional about our attention, everyone else is happy to claim it for themselves. Our attitudes, thoughts, and actions get an upgrade when we’re conscious of where our attention is going. I share three questions to reclaim your agency around your attention so you can experience your peace, joy, and creativity more deeply. 

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Alyssa Patmos 0:04
This is Make It Mentionable. I’m Alyssa Patmos and this is the show about being human in a world that encourages us to be robots. I invite you to join me as we journey through the mess, the magic and the mania in between. Because what we can talk about, we can manage. This honest conversation extravaganza includes free flowing conversations and high doses of vulnerability to remind you that you aren’t alone. No topic is off limits, and episodes are designed to leave you smarter, aka more self aware than when you came. I am so glad you’re here.

In less than a week, I will be in Greece. And I am so so so excited. It’s a bucket list trip for me, I have wanted to go for years. And the time is finally here. I am so excited with that though, because this is a vacation where I want to be able to fully unplug. I have been tested in all the ways in what I know about time and attention this week leading up there as I prepare to go. And really what we give our attention to dictates our moods, our thoughts, our beliefs, our attitude. And so it’s everything, it’s everything. And if we don’t, if we don’t reclaim our agency around our attention, then everyone else is happy to stake a claim in it. I mean, social media companies have built an entire business model on staking a claim to our attention and trying to get us to stay in their apps for as long as possible. And in this attention economy where we can’t even drive down the highway. Without billboards competing for our mindshare in our attention. It is imperative that we reclaim our agency and our our autonomy over our attention. And so, there are three questions that helped me continually shake up this process. The first one is where I’m trying on autopilot. Because in the attention economy, all these companies are happy when we’re on autopilot. When we’re just you know, going from Netflix show to Netflix show or we’re happy to you know, we’re feeling a little bit stressed, or we’re procrastinating on something. And so we just open up Instagram, and then we start scrolling. They love it. They love it when we’re on autopilot. So the first question is like, where am I on autopilot? Because the other thing about operating on autopilot is a lot of times autopilot comes from what has been comfortable to us. And we develop patterns based on on things that have been useful in the past. And then we employ them because you know, our brains like shortcuts to making decisions. But that’s not always mean that the pattern that is on autopilot is the one that’s going to serve us best now. So if you’re feeling stressed about time, and all these things competing for your attention, the first question is like, where am I on autopilot? And for me, I can get on autopilot around around research rabbit holes, where it’s just like, Okay, it’s comfortable for me to do research, rather than doing like the most valuable thing first. And so I’m always having to stop myself like, where’s this going to autopilot? Like, no, I don’t need to do more research right now. Let me move to this task. This is actually more important. And, and second, then our attention and, and our attitude have this cyclical relationship, where what we give our attention to dictates our mood, our thoughts, our beliefs dictate our attitude. And then on the flip side, it’s also the attitude that we’re holding shapes what we give our attention to, if we’re giving our if we’re sort of in a negative attitude, then we tend to give our attention only to the negative things like they just seems to pop up everywhere. It’s like those days where it’s like nothing is going right. But pivoting our attitude can change our whole day. If we can pause and be and give our attention to something positive for a quick minute. It can help shake up our attitude and then it changes our perspective on the whole day. All of a sudden, we’re not seeing just the bad we’re able to see where things might be a blessing in disguise or we’re able to see you know, just something small like a smile from a stranger that that can light things up and lighten up the mood, rather than just noticing the negatives because for everyone walking by with a smile, we can also pick up on the people who are talking on their phone and seem to be in conflict or, or the tense energy from the person behind you who’s in a rush at the grocery store. So what are we tuning into? What are you tuning into on a daily basis? That’s

the second question because it’s, it’s these small choices, we have a choice in where our attention goes, I love the word agency, because it feels so powerful, it feels like like something that I can be in charge of, instead of it just happening to me, and that is a glorious, glorious feeling. So the second question, constantly asking myself is, what channels Am I tuning into? And if we think about this, from a literal sense, even with the news, you know, we know that many of the major news outlets are very polarized. And so if we’re only tuning into one of the extremes, then we’re going to have a limited view of what’s happening in the world. Because we’re tuning into that perspective, rather than tuning into both or tuning into the other one. And it shapes it shapes, how our attitude is formed, and continually perpetuates where our attention goes. So What channel are you tuning into? Are you only seeing the negative right now? And and do you need to flip the channel and and consciously tune in to some things that are positive? Are you are you taking the time to appreciate the good things in life, I go back and forth on on gratitude, I’ve talked about it before, I tend to like to think of gratitude more as what are you appreciating, because I believe that what we appreciate appreciates, because we’re giving more attention to it, what we give our attention to grows, I have a there’s another mantra that I really like, it’s like where attention goes money flows. And that’s true. I mean, that’s how the attention economy is built up. But it’s also true in our, in our personal lives, like what we give our attention to, is where we have the opportunity to to bring in more money for ourselves as well. So in that sense, gratitude as a practice is great, because it is a way to shake up the patterns, it is a way to consciously shift where our attention is going and transform it from maybe just tuning in to the negatives, to tuning into things that you know that we truly love that bring us joy that we’re grateful for in in our lives. meditation and mindfulness are very popular words and practices right now. And the power of them really isn’t just about calming your mind, contemplation, meditation, mindfulness, there are tools and practices for cultivating more awareness. And for directing your attention. When you can sit for a few minutes and recognize the thoughts that are coming in and bring awareness to them. It then opens up the possibility of being able to shift what thoughts you’re tuning into and what feelings you’re tuning into. And that over time shifts shifts, our attitude at large and it in it’s this awareness of our attention, that allows us to start to see more possibility to feel lighter, to move more fluidly in in the world. And

so this active choice, this first question around like, where am I on autopilot? And remembering like, wait, I have I have agency over my actions. I have agency over where my attention goes. There might be a lot of things competing for it. It might be hard because Instagram is definitely programmed to to psychologically, you know, get around these pieces and make it more difficult for you to log off. But you do have a choice. And so where are you on autopilot? What channels are you tuning into? And the last piece is so simple but often forgotten. The opposite of Being on autopilot is having agency and choosing what you want actively. And so the last question is, what do I want. And this has been super helpful, especially leading up to the trip, it’s, it’s, you know, there are many things in competition for our attention, people, the people, we love friends, family, the chores at home, work, all of these things. And, and if we don’t dictate where our attention goes, they’re happy to take it. And so with this, it be this question of what do I want? is so basic, but we forget all the time. Because other people are happy to jump in with their needs, they’re happy to jump in with what they want. And if we’re just focused on meeting those, then we don’t actually take the time to pause and be like, Wait, what is important for me? What what do I want right now? And so especially ahead of this trip, I’ve had to outline Okay, for work, like, what do I want to get done, because knowing that when it’s checked off for my to do list, at the end of this week, I will be able to unplug in Greece and not worry about everything else that comes up. Because I set I came in with awareness and I knew, Okay, I want to get this done. And this will allow me to feel relaxed when I’m on vacation. And so I can let it go. I can everything else can wait till I get back. And that is anchored in the fact that I know what I want leading up to it. If we don’t have that anchor, we can feel untethered, we can feel like we’re floating away and and when new things pop up, then we don’t have that root, we don’t have the anchor like keeping us grounded. So how do you want to be anchored? What do you want? Not forgetting to ask that question is huge, because it is so so so so easy to just fall into the the traps of how other people want us or think we should be spending our time and what we should be giving our attention to, you know, Netflix would love nothing more than for us to just binge watch 14 hours of TV that that doesn’t, that doesn’t always line up with what you want. And you know, these, these are great things to refresh on before you’re going on a trip and you want to plan and prepare. But they’re also great for the day today, because it’s these small pivots that lead to the pivotal moments in life where all of a sudden, that burning passion, that desire to start a side business or, or the fact that we want to write more or the fact that you know, you want to take more photos, or you want to go to cooking classes, those don’t stay late in dreams, they don’t stay hidden in the background, when we reclaim our agency around our attention. Those become live dreams, baby, we start the business we do more writing, we we take the cooking class, all of a sudden it becomes Wait, I do have time for this because I know where my I know where I want to give my attention. And as I give more attention, they’re the things that I appreciate in life expand. And it’s

so simple. Like I’m aware, this is not a novel concept. And yet in the society that we live in, where so many things are competing for our attention, it is novel sometimes to think about this on a daily basis. It is a radical act to say, I’m not interested in that, or actually something else is more important to me. And I’m choosing not to give my attention to this right now. Might even mean not giving your attention to every breaking news story that comes out. not saying ignore the news. But the headlines, they want us to be angry, they want to shape our attitude in a way that is more towards the negative bent because we share things more when that’s the case. And so it’s a radical act to say Wait, does this actually mean by attention? Where am I on autopilot? And is my attention here warranted? So where am I on autopilot? What channels are my tuning into? Are they the channels I want to be tuning into and what do I want? What do what do I feel like in some cases it’s a radical act to even ask that question but it’s fundamental to living a more fulfilling life and it is the moments where we pivot and stop just responding on autopilot or reacting on autopilot and reclaim the agency that we have over our attention. The pit the times where we pivot, and we do that we pivot from autopilot to reclaiming our agency, with where we spend our attention, those lead to the pivotal moments where all of a sudden the things that like we I don’t want to do or we secretly want to do, we all of a sudden have the capacity to be able to do them. And, and in that sense, we’re operating from more inner peace, because we’ve shaped what we wanted. And we’re saying yes to that, and no to everything else, it invites a conversation around what is essential. And what is essential, is where we give our attention, and making choices around where we put our attention. Because, again, there’s so many things that are happy to take it if we don’t identify it for ourselves. So where am I on autopilot? Where are you on autopilot? Where, what channels are you tuning into right now? And again, this can be you can do it on a macro scale, like in general in life, how’s my attitude right now? Where am I on autopilot? What channels are my tuning into? What do I want, and doing it on a macro scale can be good, especially if you’ve been feeling like you’re in a funk, but doing on a on a micro scale on a daily basis. That is how we find the magic in the mundane. That is how we live a life where it is not just this like outcome where I’ll be happy when I can finally go on the trip, or I’ll be happy when I’m finally in the relationship like the when we do these things. When we ask these questions on a daily basis on a micro scale. That’s how we get to the place where where we experience happiness daily in a way that is meaningful, rather than just putting putting all of the joy and happiness in our life on to this outcome that may or may not come true. Again, it’s the ability to do this in the microscale that leads to the pivotal moments where we look back, and we’re like, oh my gosh, that did come true. I did do that thing. I want it. And that is where the beauty lies. There is so much magic in the mundane. We we think that oftentimes, you know, we have to overhaul an entire area of life to start to see shifts, but it’s the subtle shifts that make all of the difference. And one of those subtle shifts is awareness around where our attention is going. What are you giving your attention to? How is that influencing your attitude? Where are you on autopilot? What channels are you tuning into? What do you want? These are the questions that help us reclaim our agency around where our attention goes, which is a radical, beautiful act in this attention economy.

Thank you so so much for tuning in. If you liked this episode, I would love it if you left a review or hit the thumbs up button if you’re watching on YouTube and subscribe. And if you want more in between episodes, you can always sign up for my email newsletter at the peel over at AlyssaPatmos.com/ThePeel I will catch you next week.

You’ve just finished listening to another episode of Make It Mentionable with me, your host, Alyssa Patmos. If you’re looking for more in between episodes, then sign up for The Peel. It’s my free newsletter that gives tips for how to navigate whatever life dishes and it’s also the place where I share the juiciest of stories. To check it out, head on over to AlyssaPatmos.com/ThePeel. Thank you so much for tuning in, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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