Broaden your attention

 

To overcome this thinking style, choose an area you have ticked earlier and complete the table. Try to broaden your attention by asking yourself:

  1. What are some positive aspects that I am missing?
  2. How can I focus my attention on things other than the negatives? e.g. noticing details around me

Aimee

 

Here’s an example of Aimee, who is anxious in social situations because she thinks that she has made a fool of herself because she stumbled over her words at one point in the conversation:

1) Write down your area of perfectionism
Social situations
2) List your unhelpful thoughts and rate how strongly you believe in them (0-10)
People must think that I’m a fool because I stumbled over my words at one point in the conversation. (9/10)
3) Ways to broaden my attention in the situation. Ask yourself:
a. What are some positive aspects of my performance that I am missing?
b. How can I focus my attention on things other than the negatives e.g. noticing details around me
  1. I am ignoring the fact that people are saying they enjoy talking with me, and that they are still talking to me.
  2. I can focus on my friends instead of myself, ask them questions instead of thinking that I’m a fool, and notice details around me (e.g. colour of my friend’s outfits)
4) Results
When I broaden my attention and not only focus on the negatives, I realised that people enjoy talking to me. Focusing on my friends instead of myself broadens my attention.
 

Here’s your turn at it!

 
1) Write down your area of perfectionism
2) List your negative thoughts and rate how strongly you believe in them (0-10)
3) Ways to broaden my attention in the situation. Ask yourself:
(a) What are some positive aspects of my performance that I am missing?
(b) How can I focus my attention on things other than the negatives e.g. noticing details around me
4) Results
 

 

Focusing on the positives can be really helpful in drawing your attention away from any negative points.

For example, when you are talking to a classmate in school, instead of fixing your attention on the negative thought that you don't look good because of the pen stain on your shirt, broaden your attention to focus on what your classmate is saying, what the colour of his/her shirt is, and what objects are around you at the time, and asking questions about his/her weekend.

If you are having trouble broadening your attention in a place, try to be actively involved in what is going on around you (e.g. notice what you can see or hear), rather than focus on what is going on inside your head.