Lesson 5: Personal Focus

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JJ Parker  0:03  
Welcome, everybody. This is our lesson on personal focus. So Melissa, my first question is, what do we mean by personal focus when we're talking about the self or wellness journey?

Melissa Albers  0:15  
Yeah, that's a great question. And it is a very simple but complex question, isn't it? The first thing I would encourage you to do is grab your roadmap because again, the roadmap is going to have a whole section on here for the personal focus the two areas on Ask yourself and authentic self. Really this, this part of the journey is about understanding how your thinking patterns interact with your emotions to create an outside action.

JJ Parker 0:44  
Hmm. Okay,

Melissa Albers  0:46  
did that make sense?

JJ Parker  0:48  
No, I thought we're gonna go over a whole bunch more times.

Melissa Albers  0:51  
Well, we do have we do have fabulous notes.

JJ Parker  0:54  
Well, what I think was is really interesting about this idea is that I always A lot of the other things we talked about, like triggers and share and things like that, and even our feelings are a bit more apparent to us, right? And this, this particular piece is a little deeper, requires a little bit more thinking, and a little bit more time to just kind of get your brain around. So well, you know, even when you and I were preparing for this lesson today, we actually ourselves had to kind of go over and say, how are we going to explain? Right, this topic? Right, right, because there's a really critical part of self awareness. But it's, it's one that's a little bit harder to unpack. Yeah,

Melissa Albers  1:38  
that's exactly right. When you talk about having personal focus, other ways of thinking about it are, I would say like this, about 98% of your day. You are interacting with your day with the people in it in a very rote, non Oh, Where state?

JJ Parker  2:01  
Like you're saying, like, we're just kind of going through the motions? Yes, everything's kind of on autopilot. You know, you have habits,

Melissa Albers  2:07  
we have certain habits, you know, we're in certain areas, and we act certain ways we're with certain people, and we act certain ways. So we have all these certain ways of being that are so commonplace to ourselves that we don't even actually notice.

JJ Parker  2:22  
Yeah, well, one of the things that kind of makes the human brain kind of powerful is that we are actually able to like habituate fairly complicated things to a point where we don't really notice them happening, right?

Melissa Albers  2:39  
Yes. Entering into this conversation. Actually, when I'm working with clients, a lot of the times what I'll do is I will use other people as an a simpler example on being able to understand focus. So if you will notice the roadmap, actually, let's talk through the difference with the authentic self versus the actor self again, as it relates to personal Focus. The thing I want to just remind all of us especially right at this time of the lesson is that the entire purpose for the self awareness journey is to simply understand how to feel good no matter what, how to be content within yourself and not be so strapped to the expectations of other people. And this is where it happens right in this section, okay? In the authentic self, really the words under personal focus, it talks about staying centered, it talks about being in harmony, everything that you think everything that you say, and everything that you do is working in alignment, right. And this is something that we've said over and over again. So I actually want to use a little bit of a different description, this time to help you really have it resonate and have you be able to observe yourself because as we've said in the past, it's way easier to observe other people than it is to observe ourselves. So when we talk about the personal focus of being really centered and content, a lot of people as adults will say I don't ever feel Like that,

JJ Parker  4:00  
yeah, I don't even know what that doesn't they don't know what that means anymore. Right.

Melissa Albers  4:03  
Right. And and and I always will go back to you do. And it's really easy to remember, think back to when you were a child. And I don't know about you, but I would spend a lot of time playing outside. And I could sit outside for the day and be absolutely content

JJ Parker  4:21  
now and you'd have no concept of time. That day would fly by Yeah, just be very occupied with right what you're just seen and right and playing with

Melissa Albers  4:31  
sitting on the grass and like, Oh, look, let's see if there's any ants in the grass or here's a piece of leaf off of a tree. I'm going to pull that leaf off and see if I can make it into something. Oh, here's a big blade of grass. I'm going to see if I can make it whistle. All of those things. Were us feeling very content.

JJ Parker  4:50  
Yeah. And it sounds to me, like you're, you know, you're in the moment. You're not thinking about the past. You're not thinking about the future. You're not coming up with elaborate stories about any fly you feel in any particular way. You're just, you're just there. Yeah, right there. Yes.

Melissa Albers  5:06  
Yes. And, and as we become adults, and we have all these responsibilities to be certain ways for for other people, and in and also for our jobs and for all these expectations, we suddenly seem to lose the capacity to remember what it is to be really content. And so what we do is we kick off into this certain pattern. And this is really the goal of today's lesson is to understand your own process or your own pattern for how you have something external happen to you, and then your emotional reaction inside. And then how your brain takes that reaction and goes, Oh, no, no, no, that's not an okay reaction. Don't do that. Don't act like that. Instead, you should act this way because you're supporting all of these other things outside of you, and then you're going to be okay. If you can do that. So this is really the goal of this lesson is to help you understand what your own patterns and processes are, as it relates to how you think, how you feel and how you act all in alignment together.

JJ Parker  6:13  
So then, very fundamentally, again, it's about having something happen. That feeling, yeah, coming up in, in your body. And then the process of then your brain taking over trying to make sense of that feeling. And then putting it through the immense complexity of filters that we have for like my own self image, my family's expectations of me my work expectation, societal expectations, and we, when we start really tweaking that reaction, right, and it happens in like, a split second. Yes. Like we're able to tweak that, that response in through our brain and tweak our action.

Melissa Albers  6:58  
Really fast. Somehow. We Feel like by having whatever our real feelings are. It's like we feel like if we express those that we will somehow not be liked or accepted. Like, it could be something super mundane. Like it could be driving your car and somebody cuts you off. Yeah, really close. Yeah. You slam on your brakes and you are filled with fear. Now, you're filled with fear because you think, Oh my gosh, I almost got in an accident. And then you immediately leave the fear because then the brain kicks in and go goes, I can't believe that you got that scared? No one should make us be that scared and that guy was such a jerk. And then bang, that brain tweaks all of the original emotion that we had and kicks it into something that is more socially the norm right? Yeah. Anger, irritation, get up on their on their back bumper, you know, shake your fist or do something workers or whatever.

JJ Parker  7:55  
Well, we so we had a podcast episode a few back and it's A story about the experience I had when I was traveling in Spain when I came across. Yeah, a person that was from the United States living in Russia. Right. And I, just a quick summary of that conversation was that I had mentioned that everybody in in Moscow was really friendly. And that struck me because I was like, that's not my, you know, right or wrong. That was not my stereotypical view of, of people in that culture. Right, right. And what I thought was amazing. He said, Yeah, they're very actually warm and friendly people, but to strangers, they're not because they didn't have any economic reason. As a communist based country, you know, years ago. That's a fascinating to be kind of, like fake to anybody. Yeah. And so we had that whole episode about how society affects your reaction and what how that plays out. self awareness. So I think it's really interesting to understand that there's so many factors that go into our external,

Melissa Albers  9:09  
right. havior. And how? Yeah, and I think what's super interesting too, is a lot of the times we think that how we're acting on the outside is way better. If it's not how we really feel because if how we really feel would be rejected. Yeah, we assume that it would be. And so we, we say we're going to act a different way than how we actually feel. Yeah. And and the unfortunate part about that is how many times have you walked in a room and if you've seen someone acting in a way that isn't authentic? What's the first thing that you thought? Do you see it from

JJ Parker  9:41  
a mile away? Like, oh, they're so fake. They've got a wall up like yeah, you can see people this is why I think is really so fascinating is like, for me, I can see fake people like a mile away. Same, right? Like you walk into like, Oh, there they got the wall out. They're not even they're not Even everything they tell me is just going through that filter. Right. Exactly. But the interesting thing is, I think I'm super good at being fake.

Melissa Albers  10:09  
I think we all think that

JJ Parker  10:11  
but that's not true either. terrible at it. Ask my wife. She knows I'm terrible at it.

Melissa Albers  10:18  
But that isn't that interesting. I think that's really interesting. double standard right there. Yeah. Understanding how we create these ways of being for ourselves is really what personal bonus is all about.

JJ Parker  10:30  
So we were talking about how, on one side, we're really centered we're really contents Yeah, feel, you know, all these words grounded in the moment. Yeah. On the other side. You know, we feel like we're kind of protecting ourselves. We've got the wall up, we're not, you know, we're modifying our behavior, our actions, right. Everything is no more thought out. You know, you try to be more purposeful about things. That's really draining,

Melissa Albers  11:01  
it's really draining in it and, and I want to make sure to that, that we repeat again, this is not a judgment. This is not a lesson for you to feel bad about yourself or to feel good about yourself. It's not good or bad. It just is. This is how we are. And the better that you get at understanding your own patterns and processes, the better you can make decisions that are not as energetically draining for you. And you can just be happier and more content. And exactly as you were saying, like if you'll notice the roadmap for the personal focus under the actor self side, you'll see all sorts of words there that are kind of lightning rod words, right? You have protecting or defending myself. And we do that to varying degrees, multiple times a day, or couple times a day. Hey, did you stop off and get the groceries? Oh, I totally forgot. Well, I would have except you had me running seven other errands. I mean, it's so fast how our brain takes an emotion that says, Oh my gosh, I didn't do what I was supposed to do has a reactive state, the brain says no, no, no, don't say that. Because that will make you not look favorable. And so you say something else. Yeah, it happens like that all the time, wanting to look good. Like that is such a big one. People want to look good all the time. It's natural human nature to be competitive. To some degree. There's a natural human nature to that and obviously there's varying degrees of that but constantly wanting to be concerned about your ego and and how things are on the outside as opposed to what's happening on the inside. And we've become such experts at it to your point, we don't even know we're doing it and we think we're doing a fabulous job because we've had so much practice. And yet people can see right through that and people can see right through that. A constant really a good way for for us, for you for us to be able to tell when we're struggling with our personal focus is if we're spending a lot of time with self evaluation, you can if you're constantly focusing on did i do okay with that, and I've talked many times in our podcasts and in previous lessons, that that's been something that I have really worked on on myself to try to get past and to develop through with the with the self awareness journey is the constant state of evaluation, I should have done better, I didn't do well. And what's so funny about that thinking pattern as we're talking about learning our own processes in our own patterns is, I didn't even know that I was thinking that. So every time there would be an event or an interaction with someone that I was concerning myself about with for some reason, the first thing I would do is start to tear myself apart. I should have said this, I could have done it better that way. Why didn't I bring this document along or any any number of things like that, but spending a lot of time and self evaluation is a really big one. Yeah.

JJ Parker  13:57  
So again, I just want to kind of read People, what you said is that it is human nature yeah to be in this state where we do have a lot of self focus, right? And what we want to do for coaching people in self awareness is just recognize that fact. Right? And have everybody think about their process, as that feeling comes in. Recognize and better brains gonna, and they'll analyze, right, a whole bunch of different thing, right? And then they're gonna react and just trying to slow down and take a moment. You know, maybe initially after Mm hmm. As like a reflection thing. Like let's think about how that went down. Right. And then as you get more practiced at it, right, maybe moving that Yeah, analysis up to maybe like while you're in the middle of a reaction.

Melissa Albers  14:53  
Yes, exactly. Right, that there's a lot of ways of noticing habits. And that's, that's a really good one is reading Just saying, first of all, just try to take a moment to reflect. And it could be something as simple as you have a strong feeling about something that happens. And then immediately your brain takes over to try to like filter through what that feeling really is. And oftentimes your brain wants you to feel wrong about that feeling. Like that's not a good feeling. So you can't have it, though. And there's usually reasons that and the triggers lesson is a really good lesson to come to, if you want to start sort of unpacking where you notice you have big flare ups, and yes, but that's a really good one right is just to understand that, yeah,

JJ Parker  15:33  
yeah. And I want to make sure everyone knows, like, you know, the idea that you're your authentic self and, you know, you're always in this calm and centered state, right? Like, you're like you're like a Buddhist monk, and you're always perfectly in the moment, right? Like, that's not reality, like, right. The best case is maybe like, you can get a little taste of that a few times a day. Yeah, right. Just like Know

Melissa Albers  16:00  
that they create a lot of energy and enthusiasm when you're in that. Yes. And it feels good. It feels good. Right?

JJ Parker  16:06  
And to, like you said, like, we want to try to get to a point where we're feeling good most of the time. Yeah. Yeah. The reality is, we're not gonna spend all 24 hours a day in this like, yeah, little utopia. So

Melissa Albers  16:22  
that would be great. If we could, we should have shirts made.

JJ Parker  16:25  
Yeah, once I once I reach that state, I'll have a shirt that says that.

Melissa Albers  16:28  
I think I really want to also mention in this segment, though, that as we're talking about personal focus, when people are first entering into the self awareness journey, and we talk about this roadmap, all these parts and pieces as mentioned before, there are certain things that will really queue for you before others. And this the personal focus, a lot of times if you have such a hard time observing yourself. The reason that this is such a good one is because it really can give you a chance to analyze your brain work. Again, all the work that we've been talking about thus far, it's really noticing your feelings and realizing where your feelings are coming from, what's triggered your feelings, you know? And how does that help you along the way. This personal focus is really using not just your feelings, but it's also in really allowing you to take time to unpack how you think. And how the brain thinks is an amazing, amazing tool for how it sits in sorts all the time. And some people when they're trying to observe themselves have a very difficult time with it. So it may even be easier for you to observe other people in their personal focus.

JJ Parker  17:37  
That's my favorite hobby.

Melissa Albers  17:38  
Yeah. Observing other quietly from around the corner where they can't see.

JJ Parker  17:46  
Well, definitely in this subject, it is really easy to see Yeah, other people when Yeah, I do have those walls up when they Yeah, they are. Yeah, acting fake and then you're reflected on that. Yeah, you're solid.

Melissa Albers  18:01  
And we've only been using examples that aren't favorable when we're talking about when we're noticing someone else's. But there have been times where I have been around people that are very serene, and very comfortable in their own skin. And I have felt like they're a magnet. Like I just sit and I think, I just know being with this person, I'm gonna feel better in that experience. So what is it that they do that they're so comfortable, you know, and and, and so there are times where it can actually be really easy for you to notice other people as well. And and I think the other thing that's really important, and you've said it a couple of times, but I really want to say that again is this process. This lesson is not about judgment. This is not about making yourself wrong. It's simply becoming really good at understanding your own pattern. And the more you can understand your own pattern, The more objectivity you have, and you can start creating new patterns that suit you more as you go through this development process, and as you become bigger and better version of yourself.

JJ Parker  19:14  
Yeah, we were talking earlier about how, you know, we can we can see people who are, you know, being fake who've got the wall up who are really modifying their behavior, we can actually even see that in ourselves. You know, I, you know, I noticed that I'll, you know, change the way I respond to people, you know, differently at work than at home and things like that. And then you and I were kind of joking, like, what would it be like, if you just always said what you're feeling like you had no filter? Right? I think there was like a movie made about that, right, like a Jim Carrey movie. Yeah. Well, the idea that like, you had no filter and just boom, right out, right? And our initial reaction was like, Well, of course, I'm going to be super mad at you and you'd be rude and you'd be acting like a jerk. And yeah, and all that. But then really, if you start thinking about that, like, I know people who say exactly what's on their mind, but they do it in such a, like, a loving and carrying. Yeah, way that it's great.

Melissa Albers  20:22  
Yes. Because it's done in support and not in competition.

JJ Parker  20:25  
Yeah. And so what a great way to be.

Melissa Albers  20:29  

JJ Parker  20:30  
And then I was thinking about how I know some people that that really are, you know, in their actor self, most of the time and really modifying their behavior around me. Yeah. And what I think is interesting as as a kid, I find it really hard to even get close to those people. Like, I want to be her friend, but I just can't even get it's to hast it. It's enough to be be your friend. Yeah. Yeah. And then I was, it's, it's interesting, because that gives that like a, you know, they're kind of causing their own problems like they're in their own way with that. Yes. Right. Yeah. But, you know, I, I specifically have, like an acquaintance that like, I know, I be fairly good friends with because we actually have a lot of things in common. But this wall is up all the time, and I can't ever really connect. Right. But I know that like, if we did, it would be great. Right. So

Melissa Albers  21:32  
that's a really interesting perspective.

JJ Parker  21:35  
Yeah. And I know that you'd probably like to have some friends too. Yeah. There's nothing about this. It's just like a Yeah, it's just a interesting situation. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  21:43  
But you know what, as you were talking, no, I was immediately thinking about like, in today's climate, there's so much going on socially, politically, economically. And I find it really interesting like in this topic of personal focus, if you You look at people who take a really hard stand towards something, whatever it might be, whatever it might be, if they come at it from a perspective of truly longing to be in support of a change that they feel is wildly helpful for the universe. Okay? If people come at things with their natural, authentic care, it feels very different than people that can pick up the exact same sword, but with the perspective of simply wanting to be in an act yourself and throw energy towards something, because that's what you can do right now.

JJ Parker  22:42  
Yeah, or very different, or I want to be seen as the kind of person that does,

Melissa Albers  22:47  
yeah, x. Yes. Right. Right. So there's, I mean, if we sat here for 10 minutes, we could probably come up with 10 different examples of how in this world this really comes into play. This is very interesting. So

JJ Parker  22:59  
You know, the lesson really thinking about our process how, how we react to things and how we, how we put on, you know, kind of our own fronts all the time. Yeah. And just thinking about our how that's kind of a natural part of our brain chemistry and, and work in a maximum space now getting on the authentic self side. Let's just talk about like, like being in that frame of mind we spent a lot of time kind of like on the

Melissa Albers  23:35  

JJ Parker  23:36  
on the actress off side. Let's talk about being in the authentic self. Yeah, side and, yeah, we use all of these fairly soft words around that right. But when it really comes to like our day to day, what's the day to day look like? That's just got like 10% more. Yeah, like authentic self and

Melissa Albers  23:59  
yeah. You know, I would have to say that in my own personal experience, because that's one that I can speak to, as an expert, just my own personal experience. For me, in the last several years, I've made a real concerted effort to be different, to be more happy to be more content inside. And it required me to make a lot of big changes about how I interacted and reacted with myself. And I would just say that I used to deal with anxiety, I would have great anxiety, I would have anxiety attacks, I would wake up in the middle of the night and I would say the committee was up, which was what I called my brain. At midnight or two o'clock the committee would be up and there would be all these chitter chatter things going on in my head and I couldn't rest Yeah. And, and I would just say that having now an awareness of my own process, and this whole journey has afforded me an opportunity to be so much more calm and make better decisions for myself. My business has exponentially increased. As I've done this work for me. And to be honest with you, I thought it was going to do the reverse. Because I started thinking, boy, if I just put down all of these shells, and these imposter syndrome, things that I've got going and all of these little, little patterns, yeah, then no one's going to see me as someone that will be able to really add value to their lives. I actually believed that Yeah. And in the last few years, by being more aware of my own authenticity and being okay with that. People are drawn to people that are that way, and they want to be that way. We all want to be happier. We all want to be more calm, to be able to make really strong good decisions for ourselves, not out of fear and anxiety, but out of excitement. Yeah, enthusiasm, because we're quiet in our hearts say yes, this would be a great thing. Yeah. So I think that's what I would say just that increase. And I think there's always further to go, there's always going to be ways to get better. There's always going to be new things that you find. I mean, it's kind of like when you clean out a closet, and then you go back and you realize you missed a shell, right? There's always there's always always. But yeah, I would say that that's really what we're going for in his process.

JJ Parker  26:30  
Yeah. You know, even just with your story, I mean, I know, I know your story. Yeah. You know, being, you know, a woman in corporate America. Yeah. coaching, high level. C suites. I mean, there's, it hurts my heart, but there is just like, a way that you think you're supposed to act. Yes. Mm hmm. And it's, you know, it's it's unfolding. If that's the case, but and that's real, it's very real. Well, you know, and I, you know, obviously I'm in the tech industry. And same thing. It's like, the tech industry is really very not, you know, really not very good about

Melissa Albers  27:14  
Yeah, it's all it's all neck up, all neck up my neck down.

JJ Parker  27:21  
But getting into that space where you are your authentic self and people see it. Yeah, that is actually turned into a big benefit for you. Because, yes, you know, part of that, frankly, is just being vulnerable and yeah, being able to be okay with who you are. Yeah. So less scary stuff.

Melissa Albers  27:44  
Yeah, it was scary at the beginning. And now it isn't scary at all. As a matter of fact, it feels more scary if I'm not Yeah, it feels more scary if I feel myself. Like with an obligation to try to act a different way in a meeting. are in an inner in an exchange with somebody, and then I'll have to remind myself, that doesn't feel good. Yeah, that does not feel good. But what would feel good is for me to just say, I'm just feeling really out of alignment. So, you know, please ignore my airy fairy words, but I'm going to just get to it. And that's what I do now. I just be really, yeah, just really honest. I know. It's easier.

JJ Parker  28:22  
I know you don't want it. But it's like your inspiration to us all in ballet. Like, you know, you don't want to hear that. But Oh,

Melissa Albers  28:28  
no. Thank you for your Thank you. But yeah, so I think this, this is a great, a really, really good lesson. This lesson is going to springboard into the environmental fields, which is a natural counterbalance and counterpart to this piece because it's how we interact with ourselves and then how we push that out. And then the next lesson of the environmental fields will be a really good partner to this one.

JJ Parker  28:55  
Awesome, so hopefully, we've put some color around this Yeah. Get a little bit of understanding, I know that. For me, it takes a bit of reflection to actually get this idea, you know, formed in the brain. Next people should go do the workbook.

Melissa Albers  29:14  
Yep, yep, go right to the reflection questions. And the goal here really is to start understanding what are the key times that you recognize what your natural patterns are, it might be certain people that when again, the triggers would be a great lesson if you want to start kind of going there. Because a lot of times you'll find yourself in your personal focus because you've been triggered so often, and you didn't even know it. So it'd be really interesting to see how what you find out

JJ Parker  29:38  
yeah, it feels like this lesson is a pivot point. Right. A lot of our spoke. Yes. More like a hobby, but maybe my analogy. Yeah. Yeah, it's a hub and there's the different lessons kind of hanging off of it. This one's really key so so really spend some time in the reflection in the workbook on this one.

Melissa Albers  29:59  
Yeah, absolutely. And our very best wishes.

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