As you sit there reading this article, I want you to do a little experiment. C’mon…it’ll be fun.

So you like to play? Good on you.

Now, concentrate. Take a good look at your surroundings and notice all the items that are green.

Yes… olive counts as green. And so does pistachio. Hazel…nuh uh.

Once you’ve made a mental list of all the green-ish items, close your eyes and – out loud if you will – recite a list of all the items that are red.

Ha ha…tricked you, didn’t I. But it was a trick with a purpose.

Is it fair to say you’d have found it infinity easier to recite a loooong list of green, whereas the list of reds was a tougher ask?

That is due to one simple psychological rule…

…our mind sorts for what we instruct it to focus.

I bet your surroundings are full of both green and red items but because you told your mind to focus on the green items, that was what you saw … and here’s the kicker… to the exclusion of all other coloured items.

The red items were always there, you just didn’t see them.

And that, my friend, is exactly how we go through life. Seeing the things that we tell our mind to focus on and filtering out everything else.

Here’s why.

You’ve probably already have a sense of how amazing the unconscious mind is. Every single second your five senses (see, hear, feel, taste and smell) receives about to two million bits of information.

That is not a typo. Every. Second. Two million bits of information.


Here’s the thing. Our conscious mind can only process a tiny portion of this information so the unconscious mind automatically filters the two million bits reducing the data load to (roughly) 134 bits of information, which our conscious mind can cope with.

If the unconscious mind didn’t filter, we’d overload. Freak out. Melt down.

Our unconscious mind filters the information through three main mechanisms:

Deletion – what’s not of immediate importance or relevance

Distortion – what doesn’t fit our belief system

Generalisation – it into things that we can recognise

Why does that make focus important? Well, apart from keeping us sane, focus is what determines which 134 bits of information each second get into our awareness for conscious processing. What gets in is the 134 bits that are relevant to what we’re focussing on – the rest simply passes us by.

You don’t need to have a degree in mathematics to see that a significant amoutn of information doesn’t make it from the unconscious mind to the concious mind because of deleting. If you don’t consciously control your focus you might well be deleting the exact data that could be useful in your weight loss journey OR not be deleting data which is useless and is taking up valuable space in your conscious mind.

Which raises some pretty important questions.

– What are you telling your mind to focus on?
– Is what you’re telling your mind to focus on working for you?
– Or against you?

How to use this information to your advantage.

Take a moment now to ask yourself, “What do I want in relation to my body?”

If you’re like most people who are overweight you responded something like “to lose weight” or “to dump my love handles” or “to not be so fat”.

In each of the examples your mind had to focus on what you didn’t want to make sense of it.

“The weight you want to lose, or the loves handles you secretly hate, or the fat you want to ditch.”

By focusing on what you don’t want you are left feeling helpless, hopeless and unmotivated.

And worst of all, your unconscious mind goes on a search for even more evidence of the love handles and all the stuff you’re focusing on.

So focus on what you DO want and NOT what you don’t want.

When you redirect your focus to what you want – a slim, fit healthy body – you are sending a message to your unconscious mind to find and explore every possibility to move you towards this goal.

The more specific you can be the better.

– When you look in the mirror what are you focusing on?
– If what you’re focusing on makes you feel bad, change your focus and choose to notice your good bits.

Remember what we focus on determines how we feel. How we feel determines what actions (or inactions) we take. And it is our actions that determine the number on the scale.

Remember that if you keep focusing on what you’ve always focused on, you’ll get more of what you’ve already got. So if you’re feeling unmotivated, helpless, like weight loss will never happen for you… change your focus.

You have the power to make an incredible difference in your life. And it starts right here… with the power of focus.

Love etc, Avril

Csíkszentmihályi, Mihály (1990). ‘Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience’. New York: Harper and Row.


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