Hello to everyone stopping by! This is the PRISONERS OF OUR THOUGHTS Conversation Series. I’m glad to see YOU if you’ve been following along and welcome you if this is your first time participating.
THREE WAYS TO PARTICIPATE:
Cast your vote in the The Meaning in Work and Life Survey
Visit Viktor Frankl commemorative exhibit at the Global Dialogue Center’s KNOWLEDGE GALLERY. It’s one you won’t want to miss! It serves as a backdrop for our conversation.
JOIN OUR CONTINUING CONVERSATION:
If you missed the first five principles, you may find it helpful to review them and I welcome your thoughts on any topic. I think you’ll benefit from the review as we move into Shift Your Focus of Attention So far, we have explored five of Viktor Frankl’s principles:
---- Principle 1: Exercise the freedom to choose your attitude
---- Principle 2: Realize your will to meaning
---- Principle 3: Detect the meaning of life’s moments
---- Principle 4: Don’t work against yourself
---- Principle 5: Look at yourself from a distance
PRINCIPLE 6: Shift Your Focus of Attention --- Deflect your attention from the problem situation to something else and build your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress and change.
This principle is particularly useful when you are faced with a difficult situation or decision to make. In the my book, I highlight a story of a man named Andy---a former executive with a major software company. He used to make more than $130,000 a year with great benefits. Suddenly, he found himself laid-off and unable to find a job that offered the same or similar responsibilities, status, salary and benefits. Instead, out of desperation, he found himself grasping at survival jobs offering considerably less.
Most important, Andy’s approach to dealing with this loss is a example for us all. Instead of allowing his life to be driven by frustration, money worries, shame or embarrassment, he managed to see himself as going forward instead of seeing this unexpected change as going backward. An avid golfer, he looked for jobs related to his hobby and landed a job at the pro shop, moving on later to selling golf equipment at a bigger store.
Andy learned a great deal since he was cut from his executive job in late 2001. Among other things, he’s been able to see the silver lining in what could have been, for him as it is for so many of his peers, a cloud of despair and a time of inner emptiness. Instead, he serves as a great role model for us in the way he was able to shift his focus to more important matters in his life and has discovered deeper, personal meaning in the process.
How about you??? How resilient are you??? Think of a time when you’ve been able to deflect the reality in your life and see a more positive side to it all.
The same skills that helped Andy can help us on the job or in our personal lives to deal with difficult people, situations or decisions. We all know complainers. At one time or another, we’ve all been one. When we get locked into our own complaining shadow and focus on all the bad stuff, we immediately lose sight of the good stuff. When we can learn to de-reflect---that is, shift our focus of attention--- from what is bothering us to a more positive target, we get a different insight into solving the problem before us.
The principle of de-reflection, Frankl would say, helps us to ignore those aspects of our life and work that should be ignored. It also helps to turn us away from being self-absorbed with our problems and directs us toward the true meanings that beg to be discovered by us. In effect, de-reflection encourages us to perceive something new in a situation so that we may let go of our old perceptions and ways of doing.
De-reflection can only be attained to the degree to which…awareness is directed toward positive aspects.”
--- Viktor Frankl, The Doctor and the Soul
PUTTING MEANING INTO THIS CONVERSATION... Individual Reflection Activities
Consider these questions. Then TALK with us. Help everyone learn by sharing from your memories, experiences or current issues…
Recall a situation in your work or personal life from which you felt the need to shift your attention in order to deal with it effectively. Consider situations like:
---- you were faced with a critical business or family decision
---- you were thrust into an emergency situation requiring swift action
---- you found yourself in the middle of a personal crisis
How did you shift your focus from the situation to something else?
What if anything did you do as a result of your shift of focus?
What did you imagine or fanaticize?
What did you learn about your capacity for shifting the focus of your attention?
Looking back, what did you learn in the process?
I look forward to hearing from you and you’ll hear back from me!! All the best,
Alex Pattakos, Ph.D.
author, Prisoners of Our Thoughts
founder, Center for Meaning