Is Selective Attention Running Your Life?

Watch the above video before you read the below article. What was your experience of it?

Selective attention is a natural way that our brain helps us to focus. Attention is a limited resource, so selective attention allows us to tune out unimportant details and focus on what really matters.

With all the stimulus coming at us these days, selective attention is a very important function that helps us sort out what is and isn’t important.

The interesting thing is that we are not conscious of what we are tuning out. We believe that the way we view reality IS the way it is, IS the nature of reality – of course it is, we’re EXPERIENCING it, we’re LIVING it!

But are we really?

How much does what is going on in that “reality” out there ELUDE us? How much do we miss things that could be important?

Psychologists have shown that what we “edit” out of our reality is largely affected by our beliefs, prior experiences, the arousal of our senses, and other factors.

This is why it’s so important to look at the content of your Shadow – the beliefs and feelings you are not conscious of, that you are repressing because they don’t fit with the view of reality you want to hold onto.

If you are single and looking for a mate, it’s important to discover what you unconsciously believe about the dates you attract, or what you don’t know you believe about what is available for you and not, or about what your family may have taught you to believe about intimate relationships that you’re still not aware of.

If you are in a relationship, it’s also important to ask yourself what you learned from your family about relationships and how they are supposed to look. You can also ask yourself how important it is for you to be right. Or whether the flaws you see in your partner are real or projections of your Shadow.

And as you’ve heard me say many times – every relationship is a reflection of your relationship with your self. You can argue successfully that your relationship with yourself is the most important and the hardest to see!

…which is why we need caring and perceptive people around us to help us uncover how we are less than kind to ourselves, how we put our own needs behind others’, or conversely, how we are overly demanding and dissatisfied with who we are and therefore of others.

I invite you to sit with these questions now. And here’s the trick – try not to use your mentality to “figure out” the answers to these questions. Instead, ask the question and listen deeply to your soul for the answer. See what comes up for you.

Share your insights from either this self-inquiry or your reaction to the above video in the comments below, or on my Facebook page here.

And if you’d like to work more deeply with a caring and perceptive professional, schedule a consultation to see if we’re a good fit for working together here.

4 thoughts on “Is Selective Attention Running Your Life?”

  1. Nijole! This is so great, so perfect! It lines up with the reason I want to write to you. I logged on to tell you about the follow up to my anger question. First I want to say how helpful your Thanksgiving post is, especially about managing emotions with family…

    Back to the anger bit. In addition to feeling anger in response to triggers, I appear to be in the habit of it. In other words I’m looking for reasons to be angry. I’m not going to anymore. I’m replacing this habit with looking for something good, something that will generate a loving response instead of an angry feeling. I need practice for sure. I LOVE this post about selective attention because the fleeting gorilla for me is the tiny glimmer I usually miss when all I see is what is wrong or threatening.

    1. That’s a beautiful realization, Rita! And a great commitment. Your anger is probably a coping mechanism you learned for dealing with life’s challenges. Becoming aware of this helps you to release that habit. Good for you!

  2. First off, that video was CRAZY!!! Who knew we can block things out so effectively when it’s not what we’re priming ourselves to see? Makes me wonder how much of my “reality” is real, and how much is a tiny portion that my hurts, longings, cultural programming, or habits are willing to see?!?!

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