Displace negative thoughts by paying proper attention to your surroundings

Just like a TV or radio, your mind generally shows just one channel or station at a time.

At times you may be doing the equivalent of itchy-fingered channel hopping, flitting between various thoughts for seconds at a time. But the truth is, when you’re genuinely thinking about one thing it’s almost impossible to focus on another at the same time.


Perhaps, then, when you’re bogged down with the sort of negative thinking you’d rather not have, one way to help yourself is to occupy your mind with another matter, leaving no space for the bad stuff?

Easier said than done, you may think. Especially if your life feels as if it’s built on a raft of worries. It may seem that the only alternative to brooding about (a) is to fret about (b) or (c) instead.

I think this is where paying proper attention to your surroundings may come in.

In the Scouts we played ‘Kim’s Game’, in which you were shown a tray with a couple of dozen objects on it (knife, paintbrush, key, comb etc), then when the tray was covered over, you had to try and recall what you’d seen.

In the trickier version, one item was removed, then the tray was shown again, the challenge being to identify the object no longer there.

If you’ve played the game yourself, you’ll know that it’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds. It involves some seriously focused concentration.

Why not put this technique to work next time your thoughts take you to a place in which you’d rather not be?

Take a good look at your surroundings – a really good look – and take proper notice of them. Think hard about what you’re seeing. You’ll give your worries a respite.

Sometimes it can be a blessing that we do mainly have one-track minds.

2 thoughts on “Displace negative thoughts by paying proper attention to your surroundings

  1. This is an excellent practice. Grounding and calming. It is amazing how I can recall precise details of things I have used for close observation.

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