I want to use this post to shed light on focus because I was having a difficult time controlling my focus a week ago.
Before I get into my little challenge, I want to lay down three questions. According to Tony, there are three questions we are constantly asking ourselves in any situation:
1) What am I focusing on?
2) What does this mean?
3) What am I going to do about it?
Okay, as I said in my previous video post, my company had switched my school which I was fine with. In fact, I experienced excitement almost immediately after being told the news. However, the day after I posted my video, my company called and told me I was being placed at a different school again, which is located much further than the other two placements. It’s also a much larger school (close to 900 students as opposed to 550 students from last year), which at the time I instinctively thought would be a negative thing.
My focus was instantly thrown into a negative spin. It’s so far from me (it’s going to take at least an hour to get there); much bigger school; the company doesn’t care about me because they never took the time to consider where I live. My negativity grew into hypothetical outcomes too: maybe some of the teachers will be even more stubborn than ones I’ve dealt with at my old school, so on and so forth.
As you can tell, I was focused on so many negative aspects about my second school change that my meaning was predictably negative as well.
I threw myself into a mode of complaining. What made it more distressing was that I wasn’t really told about why they switched me over the second time, so I called back the following day and got a little more information. They said that my new school wanted someone with some teaching experience, as opposed to the new AET’s (Assistant English Teachers) that would be coming in this year. School placements are also left to the Board of Education to decide, not my company – so I was placing blame on the wrong people – but blaming someone else in the first place never solved any of my past situations. Besides, it’s my choice to be in Japan for another year and I do want to be here.
This is a clear example of where focus can turn into suffering, and suffering of any sort is unnecessary in my opinion. I got a little more clarity after I phoned my company, but I was still in a poor state of mind. However, I recognized the negative flow of responses I was blurting as if I was being victimized. All of my responses were problem-focused and that’s when I DECIDED to change my focus.
Once I change my focus, I can change the meaning to my situation.
So I asked myself these questions:
1) What’s beautiful about this situation?
2) What am I grateful for?
3) What’s funny about this?
Let’s see. A beautiful thing about my situation is that my new school will allow me to become more familiar in Central Yokohama. I do not venture out there very much, but when I have, there are clearly many great food places, shopping areas, and romantic spots – which can add flavor and surprise into my intimate relationship. I also love ramen and Yokohama is known for their tasty noodles. Not knowing anything about the school other than having around 900 students makes it exciting and I am confident in my ability to adapt very quickly and earn the respect of fellow teachers and students. The element of surprise makes it a beautiful situation. Also, having 900 students means there are more people that I can positively influence. This aligns with my purpose to empower.
Next. What am I grateful for? I am grateful that my friend, Mike, had told me previously that the second school I was to be placed at before has an English teacher who is supposedly very stubborn in her opinions. He knows this because a teacher from his school is switching over to that school and she is not happy about it for that reason. Sure, we both haven’t met this English teacher, but since I am no longer going to that school – I am choosing to use this rumor to provide more support that my new school will be an even more awesome place for me. This makes me think about Tony’s statement:
“Experiences are happening FOR me”
Go into situations as if you have chosen it. It makes the unfolding more enjoyable.
I am also grateful for the opportunity to be given a new school in the first place because that means there will be new challenges – and challenges are what fuels more wisdom and perseverence. I am also grateful because this can show that the company trusts that I am capable of quickly adjusting and leading so many students. I am.
I am grateful that I called my company and found out more about why I was being switched again, which allowed me to get more closure, which then led to questions that fueled my peace of mind. This reinforces the idea that I am responsible for my actions, and my actions can therefore be used to improve the situation.
So, what’s funny about this? I find it funny how I let this minor situation affect my emotions. It goes without saying that nobody can make me feel a certain way unless I give them permission. Anytime I feel a certain way and say it’s because of him or her, this or that (something outside of myself), I am living a victimized illusion and not taking responsibility for the quality of my life. That’s such an undesirable existence for me and I have the power to choose where I place my focus…and I am building up my focus muscle one day at a time. Another funny thing I realize is that I grew upset largely because of the distance from my place and the new school compared to the first school change they assigned me to. Had my company just told me that I would be moving to my new school directly after the contract with my old school, I believe I would have taken it a lot better.
This reminds me of the comparison effect between stereos when they are placed next to one another at a store. Next to one another, maybe you can hear the difference in quality (the $300 stereo might have a slightly stronger and clearer bass than the $250 stereo). However, once you make a decision to buy the $250 stereo and take it back home, it’s likely that you won’t even notice the difference, or it just won’t be as important to you anymore. But if it still affects you, return the stereo and get the $300 one…or just re-evaluate your focus.
Questions like the ones above are really powerful in changing my state, but it can be fucking difficult to find the courage to answer these questions when I am really angry, sad, frustrated, etc. I usually tell myself that I have a right to be angry at the moment because somebody else did this to me, so it gives me a level of significance by being angry. But in the end, I am the one suffering by choosing this prideful mentality over seeking a positive way out. And I may also be hurting others in this process. In this sense, it’s ultimately a lose-lose to stay angry.
I went over these questions after my phone call with the company, but writing and going over them again is very therapeutic and I feel a lightness in spirit, knowing that the way I feel is how I CHOOSE to feel.
Since I was able to shift my focus in a positive direction, I ultimately created a new meaning to my circumstance. Being at my new school (when it begins on April 14th and thereafter) means that I am provided an ideal opportunity to explore the depths of Yokohama – from the romantic spots in Motomachi Chukagai to Shin Yokohama. This means I can also enhance my intimate relationship by discovering new places that we can venture to.
New situations also mean new challenges which mean I will be growing. I am going to make my new school year (and perhaps my last year in Japan) an amazing year by openly communicating with my fellow teachers at the school, trying to remember as many of the students names as possible, creating new activities and refining old ones to foster a more entertaining learning environment, and coming in each school day with a confident, enthusiastic, and flexible attitude to the best of my ability. Also, the more students the merrier. That just means there are more people I can empower, so there is no excuse to NOT live my purpose every school day.
When challenges come into your life, what questions do you usually ask yourself? Are you a victim of circumstance? Or are you in control of the meaning?
Know your FOCUS.