Have you ever noticed the more attention you give to something, the more life you give it, in every way? It expands. Gets bigger, takes up more of your time, energy, and sometimes money. Dominating your existence. You can’t ignore all problems to make them go away, but many you can ignore to reduce output spent.
You can’t ignore a lump under your arm, or credit card debt mounting, or a spouse cheating. You need to schedule that doctor’s appointment, set up that debt repayment plan, or address your relationship and figure out if this is your person, someone who lies to you. Those are problems that, by ignoring them, sweeping them under the rug, only get worse. In some areas, attention is necessary.
But some things are better off if we ignore them rather than attack them by giving them much of our attention.
What we pay attention to expands. I’ve seen this play out many times in life. The law of attraction is valid.
We’ve all seen the movie The Secret. The Law of Attraction is a real thing. We’re all susceptible to laws which govern the Universe, including the Law of Attraction. We attract into our lives what we focus on. Quantum physics says that what’s happening on the inside determines what’s happening on the outside — our world shaped by our thoughts.
Here is a small example
I’ve stopped going on apps like Facebook and Anthropologie. I would waste time on Facebook scrolling or reading political news. I would waste more time on Anthropologie looking for the perfect cardigan or peasant blouse, even though I have plenty of perfect cardigans and peasant blouses — a ton. I replaced these apps with investment apps like The Motley Fool Stock Advisor, trading apps, and Stock Light, where I can set alerts based on stock prices dropping, prompting me to buy. Since the switch, most of my energy goes into saving money. As a result of my attention going to saving, my portfolio has doubled in the last two years. I have less debt because I’m shopping less for things I don’t really need.
Although Anthro comes out with yet another great peasant blouse every three months topping the last, I’ll never know because I’m no longer going on the app and won’t be tempted to buy.
I made the conscious decision to take my attention off blouses and put it into my portfolio, and buying stocks. A basic example that can be applied to larger issues. Though I would argue, your financial freedom is one of the most important issues.
Have you ever looked back on a huge negative event in your life, one you believed would never end. But once it did, you thought, I can’t believe I put so much energy and time into that negative thing? You come out the other side of it with very little changed. All the energy you thought it demanded at the time was for nothing. The stuff you worried and focused on didn’t matter in the long run, like, not at all, in the grand scheme of life.
Here are some examples: a guy not calling, your candidate not winning, not getting the job offer you wanted, not winning the argument with your dad, not getting through to a sibling about wearing a mask, not getting the raise, not being accepted to your first-choice school, not getting the house you bid on or someone leaving you, when you wanted them to stay. We put so much emotion and energy into things that will not change no matter how much we fight it. Even smaller things like not getting the parking spot we wanted or someone cutting us off in traffic. The energy you give by giving the bad driver the finger or swearing is wasted.
I went through a terrible divorce. No, not all of them are. I have several friends who had “nice” divorces, even when kids were involved. My divorce nearly sucked the life out of me. Partly because I gave it so much attention. I hadn’t learned that you can deal with a problem and not fight it at the same time.
It took up a lot of my energy, time, mental health, and money. I gave it too much emotional bandwidth that could have gone to more productive areas, like learning a new skill, writing, creating a blog, taking a coding class, investing in Bitcoin. At the time, I couldn’t have done any of those things because I would not have seen them — even if I had tripped over some Bitcoin, my attention was going elsewhere.
At the time, I was so trapped in the what-ifs. What if I lose this? What if I lose that? That I couldn’t see beyond loss. I couldn’t see any light.
And, yes, you do have to pay attention to a court case when you are listed as “the defendant” when someone is trying to destroy you financially. You have to take the phone call from your lawyer at 6:00 pm while trying to feed a toddler, you have to go through your finances, be prepared, provide the appropriate documents, and sometimes, even write your own declarations because you’ve run out of money. But you don’t have to have an emotional temper tantrum or meltdown. You won’t fill out the paperwork any faster if you have to also clean up the emotional mess in your mind. All the necessary stuff that needs to get done will take longer if you fight the problem and give attention to things you can’t control.
You can handle a problem and not fight it at the same time. What we resist persists.
I had no control over how the other party chose to act. Yet, I allowed myself to get sucked into the negativity being hurled at me both legally and emotionally. When I stopped reacting, defending myself, and fighting on my behalf, it was only then that I gained control and sanity over my day. I was then able to deal with the legality of my situation while being a good mom without giving energy to what was beyond my control.
When I gave up the fight, I won the battle.
Once I stopped fighting and just did what was necessary, all that energy I was pouring into responding to nasty texts from my ex and his “divorce guru” reduced my stress and lessened the conflict within me. The only purpose for the bombardment of vicious texts and legal antics was to cripple me financially, bait me, get me to acquiesce, give up legally and keep me off balance.
So I ignored it.
Attention is the oxygen of conflict. When you fight a problem, you breathe life into it. When you starve a problem of your attention, you suffocate it. — James Clear
That is exactly what I did. I stopped responding with attention. I starved conflict of oxygen. I continue to use this lesson.
Sometimes, the best thing we can do is ignore a problem.
After all the tears, all the energy output, all the worrying, and loss of sleep, nothing really terrible happened, nothing drastic changed in my life.
Yes. I got a divorce — big deal. I’m part of more than half the country. Not only that, I’m much happier. No, I didn’t lose my daughter. You can’t lose real love. No, I didn’t end up homeless. I’m smart and capable. Nothing I worried about happened.
The only thing I lost was all that energy I was giving it, all that attention that could have gone elsewhere.