Last summer I went through a season—the kind where sadness wasn’t a stranger. It wasn’t an emergency situation. I also felt happiness and joy, love and a sense of accomplishment; I was active and present where I was. But, I knew the anniversary of the loss of a loved one and stressful situations had me feeling down…and I knew that in time it would pass.
I was reminded that actions and activities can either contribute to (or help improve) melancholy when I scrolled through Facebook one morning. I was already feeling low, for reasons I had on my mental list, when I started seeing photos of close friends with narratives of deep friendship and I felt a familiar sense of longing.
As I started adding to my mental list of reasons I realized I had to close out of Facebook. Just one click on the little X at the top corner of the screen isn’t difficult, and yet sometimes it is. I closed the screen and felt a nudge to make a different list. This list was to remind me of what I do have. I hadn’t forgotten—my focus was just on the wrong list.
3 Steps to Change Your FocusLaura was feeling melancholy and she realized it was becaus her focus was on the wrong list… Click To Tweet
1.) Be Careful of Social Media Time
I’ve said this before—social media has its positive uses, but with the positive comes the negative.
Constantly viewing other’s photos, often without context, can pull us into a dark hole of feeling less than. It makes us think the grass is always greener, someone else’s spouse/kids are better, or her life is more exciting than ours. It creates the illusion that what we have is not good enough, or that what we do have is problematic and we’d be better off without it. It makes us want change because we see a tiny picture into someone else’s life.
The truth is, we never really know what someone else is dealing with. We don’t know what it took to get that perfect picture or how that person got to where she is now.
Sometimes God will intersect the paths we’re on, but everyone’s path is different—unique for each of us.
A benefit of social media is when someone else’s story or experience inspires us or cheers us on to keep moving forward. It’s not that we want to be just like her, but we feel encouraged that if she did it, we can do it too—in our own unique way, as planned by God.
The negative side of social media is when what we see makes us bitter and unhappy. And that’s when it’s imperative to close the social media screens and get offline.
2.) Make a Positive List to Change Your Focus
We seem to be really good at making mental lists of what’s wrong with our lives, but how often do we make a positive list of what we have in life?
Everyone has something they’re dealing with. That’s just how life is. Some situations are immediate and devastating, while others are annoying and inconvenient. Some take years to come back from, but even during those years, there are bright spots—even the smallest glimpse of God reminding us He hasn’t left us.
Make a list of what you’re thankful for. Keep reminders of the bright spots despite the dark days. And who knows? We might just be the bright spot in someone else’s life by the example we set.
A positive list won’t change particular circumstances or how other people act or see life. But, it can distract us from dwelling on the negative. And, it will change our focus because what we concentrate on gets our attention.
I always want to list prayer first, but this list starts with immediate practical steps. I had to close Facebook to break the spell it had over me. I wonder if sometimes God wants to say, “You’ve exceeded your screen time for today.” and take our electronics away from us.
Prayer changes our attention from ourselves to Him. Fixating on ourselves leads us to feel anxious, worried, and unsettled. It keeps us thinking we have to be on top of everything, in control, and able to handle anything that comes our way.
But the truth is, we can’t. We cannot always be in control and we’re not able to take care of everything that comes at us. The more we focus on ourselves, the more disillusioned we become.
The more attention we give to God allows us to see beyond ourselves to Someone greater and worthy of our focus. And when God is our focal point, we can breathe easier and feel His peace.
These steps seem small, but they can make a big difference in our daily lives. There’s a saying—What we feed grows. When we spend our time and attention on positive thoughts, they have the opportunity to grow faster and stronger than our negative thoughts. It seems simple and it’s not always easy, but it’s true.
Join the Conversation
How do you change your focus when you have a bad day?
Join the conversation in the comments below!"When God is our focal point, we can breathe easier and feel His peace." ~ Laura Rath Click To Tweet
If you liked this blog post, you’ll also love our anthology, Candid Conversations. While each story shares a unique perspective, the prevailing theme is that while we all struggle, there is hope to be found in Jesus. Get your copy from Amazon or click here to learn more.