Focus on what you don't want

This is the first of a short series of article about how not to get what you want.

Here’s my first failure tip, follow this reliably and you are bound to go wrong

Spend your time thinking about what you don’t want

Think in great detail about what you don’t want, what’s wrong with your life, work, relationships, etc. Make a detailed list of what’s wrong.

If you’re a bit stuck here are some suggestions:

  • I don’t want to be fat.
  • I’m fed up of this rubbish job.
  • I can’t stand my partner.
  • I don’t want to live in this pokey little flat.
  • I hate the way my family treat me

You might be asking: “But, what if this is true?” “What if I really don’t want some of these things”. “Isn’t it good to be honest and tell it how it is?”

It may be true, but it isn’t very helpful. Thinking and talking about what you don’t want sends your brain in the wrong direction. Focus on the problem and you’ll find yourself ever more deeply immersed in it. What you think about grows stronger. Dwelling on what you don’t want is a great way to remain stuck there.

Not only does thinking this way keep you stuck it also stops you from considering where you would prefer to be. Humans like all other life forms are goal seeking entities. We have needs and desires, we want them fulfilled and we’ll take steps to get to them. However if you don’t know what your goal is, seeking it can be very difficult.

Imagine you get into a taxi and tell the driver “I don’t like it here, take me somewhere else”. The taxi driver is probably going to ask “Where would you like to go?”. If all you can tell him is “Anywhere, but here” you (and the driver) are in for a frustrating experience.

This is why this is such a great two-for-the-price-of-one failure tip – Focus on what you don’t want and you can stay stuck and avoid better alternatives.

Try this

If you are good at “don’t want-ing”, you might like to try this little exercise as one way of turning what you don’t want into what you do want.

1. Make a list of some of your ‘favourite’ don’t wants.

2. Add them one at a time to this question, ask the question of yourself and think about the answers

If you don’t want …………………………………., what do you want?

If the answer to this question is another “don’t want”, put that in the space and ask the question of that.

If you are very used to thinking about what you don’t want this might seem like quite an effort. If you don’t want to be stuck it’s a very useful first step on the way out.

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