Feeling Stuck In a Rut? Here’s How to Change Your Focus

By Daniel Elias

June 27, 2018   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

You’re in a rut and you’re having a hard time understanding how to change your focus. Things aren’t going your way and they haven’t been for a while.

It’s a work problem you can’t seem to solve, a blank page you can’t seem to face or a bad break up you just can’t get over. You overanalyze and analyze as you descend deeper into a mental entropy, focusing on nothing but me, me, me. You try to figure out how to fix it or, at the very least, forget about it for a minute, but you still can’t.

Don’t worry, you will. You just need to know how to change your focus.

Understand that your conscious mind can’t think this problem away. It wasn’t made for it. Every time you try and fail, it’s like trying to teach your goldfish how to climb a tree. In order to break the loop, you must first understand that personal suffering is an extended focus on one’s self. Shift that focus and the suffering will end.

Shifting The Focus

shifting the focus

When you are in a rut, shift your focus on others. Offering help to acquaintances, friends, and even strangers can reduce the impact of daily stressors on your mental health and emotions. Such activities take you out of your head and into the present.

Laboratory experiments conducted by Elizabeth B. Raposa of the school of medicine at Yale University carried out a study in which 77 individuals used their smartphones to report on their daily experiences and feelings.

The participants were provided with an automated phone reminder each night to prompt them to complete their daily assessment in the 14-day study.

They were required to report on any stressful events they encountered each day across several domains. It included interpersonal, finance, home, health, work, and education. They were also required to report on any helpful activity they took part in each day.

At the end of the 14-day study, it was well proven that helping others boosted the participant’s well-being. A higher level of daily positive emotion, as well as better mental health, was associated with the helping actions.

Each helping behavior also affected the way different participants responded to stress. Individuals who recorded lower helping behaviors reported lower positive emotions and greater negative emotions in coping with their day.

Taking Action Right Now

taking action

Below is a list of things you can do right now to shift your focus and get out of your rut.

  1. Call or text a friend or family member and ask if they need help with anything.
  2. Start being aware of your day. Hold the elevator door for the person behind you instead of just pretending to. Smile at the cashier in the market and pay them a compliment because it costs you nothing. Focus on consistency and not on the size of each act.
  3. Pay for a stranger’s coffee at the café.
  4. Write a thank you letter to someone you haven’t talked to in a while but made a big impact on your life.
  5. Help someone else out with their idea, dream or goal even if it has nothing to do with you.

Lastly, it is important to remember that giving does not mean letting people walk on you. While we all make sacrifices sometimes, only give what you can and maintain a sense of self-worth and integrity above all else. That’s how to change your focus in life.

Daniel Elias

Dan Elias is passionate about helping people develop creative strategies for unlocking their potential. He is the marketing director of Motivate, an app dedicated to helping people achieve their goals.

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