Attention Management: The Roommate
Attention management is a vital life skill that is rarely taught or even understood as a skill to be developed. Most people of given up ownership of their attention a long time ago and don’t even realize it. To help in developing better attention management, it helps to use the example of the Roommate.
Imagine with me that the voice inside your head were to be embodied in another person outside of you, someone that followed you around everywhere you went, constantly criticizing, condemning, complaining and catastrophizing out loud? Let’s call this person your roommate- the one that’s been with you since you were a young child and will be with you for the rest of your life.
What if every thought you gave your attention to were to be spoken out loud by your roommate? You’re in the shower and they walk right in and start jabbering on about everything that will probably go wrong today and how inferior you are. You’re driving to work and there they are in the passenger seat, talking non-stop, rehashing past conversations, expressing their serious worries about what lies ahead and doubts about your ability to deal with it.
How long would you be able to take it before you kicked this roommate out of your life and told them you wanted nothing to do with them anymore?
The only reason you haven’t already done this is because the roommate is a good magician and has tricked you into believing that you are the one saying all those things and you don’t know how to kick yourselves out of your own head. But now, the magician’s trick is exposed. It’s not you. It’s a cleverly disguised roommate and you can learn to kick them out and restore your sanity. How?
No Attention For You!
If you are a fan of the 1990’s TV sitcom “Seinfeld” you will probably remember the “Soup Nazi” guy. He’s the chef at a New York soup place that made the best soup and people lined up to get a bowl of soup. He would not take any special requests. If anyone asked for something other than what he offered, he would sternly shout out “No soup for you!” and take back the soup and move on to the next customer, refusing to listen any more to the complainer.
Your attention is the most valuable thing you have. Your roommate has had free reign on your attention for as long as you’ve had a roommate. If you’d like to increase the power and peace of your presence, and put your roommate in its proper place, you’ll need to start being more like the Soup Nazi.
When the roommate starts jabbering on about whatever it’s worried about or ashamed of or annoyed by, instead of just letting it have your precious attention, start commanding “No attention for you!” and bring your attention to the present moment by focusing on deliberately taking a deeper, slower breath than you are currently breathing and opening up your awareness to either your external senses (sights, sounds, smells, etc.) or your inner energy sensations. Either way, you are grounding your attention in the body and the present moment and taking it back from wherever the roommate wants to take it.
Your Attention Is Too Precious To Be Squandered
Like the Soup Nazi knew that his soup was too good to be questioned, know that your attention is too valuable to be so easily squandered by the insecurity of your roommate (which is really your insecure personality).
Your attention is your most valuable resource. More valuable than money, time or health.[bctt tweet=”Take greater pride of ownership of your attention. If you don’t own your attention you don’t really own anything.” via=”no”] [bctt tweet=”Reclaiming ownership of your attention is the most valuable skill you can learn.” via=”no”]
There are millions of thoughts out there clamoring for a piece of your precious attention. A huge percentage of them don’t deserve any more of your attention. Withdrawing your attention from them will leave more of it available for the much higher quality thoughts that are always there to be noticed, but not until you can get the roommate to quiet down will you begin to notice them. And the only way that will happen is by lots of “No attention for you!” commands (it helps if you say it in a gruff Russian accent).