Where I grew up most of the practice driving we did in driver's education class was on wide open country roads. No one around for miles.
One day when I was pretty sure I had mastered all the challenges I thought driving had to offer my teacher challenged me about distraction, focus and driving.
"I want you to watch the ditch and drive in a straight line." He said.
The road was straight, clear, and open. So we tried. Each student driver in the car cycled through the driver's seat and no matter how slow and carefully we tried, when we focused on the ditch the car eventually pulled toward it.
Just like the car your life follows your attention.
I think of this often when I work with counseling and coaching clients.
A huge part of the problem in relationships is couples getting stuck in critical views. We start running resentments through our mind and sure enough those resentments grow.
A huge part of the problem in mental health is individuals getting caught in a mindset of depression. Our depression tells us to focus on impossibility, pain, and low energy and in a short amount of time we feel stuck, overwhelmed, hurt and tired.
So many of my coaching clients are stuck focusing on their to-do lists they forget to enjoy the lives they're leading on the way to task completion.
When we shift the focus to what is working in the relationship or our lives we're not ignoring the problems (we don't ignore the ditch in the car).
Instead of focusing all our attention on where we don't want to go (and being surprised when we end up there) when we focus on where we want to go (while staying aware of the ditch) we move in the direction of our dreams.