Concentration has been defined as “the ability to direct one’s thinking in whatever direction one would intend”. One might guess that every one of us at one stage or another suffers from a lack of concentration, in fact it is quite normal; we often have lots on our minds to think about. While this situation is normal, we might feel that we want to develop our focus on certain things, or make our thinking a little bit more ordered. Hypnotherapy can help you to achieve this focus and order, but there is nothing that will make the change for you, hypnosis is only a facilitator, through which change can come, it is down to you to actually make the changes you need.
We all have the ability to concentrate some of the time. But at other times our thoughts are scattered, and our minds race from one thing to another. To deal with such times, we need to learn and practice concentration skills and strategies. To concentrate, we have to learn a skill, and as with any skill this means practice repeated day after day until we achieve enough improvement to feel that we can concentrate when we need to.
Our ability to concentrate depends on:
enthusiasm for the task
skill at doing the task
our emotional and physical state
our psychological state
We need to make a personal commitment to put in the effort needed to do the task in the way which we realistically plan to do it. If we just play at it in a half-hearted manner then it is much more difficult to take the task and ourselves seriously.
If we are interested in the task and enjoy doing it, then we find it easy to motivate ourselves to start. Once started, our feelings of involvement in the activity keep us going – we want to do it.
Knowing how to do something gives confidence that our efforts will be successful, so we don’t have to deal with anxiety about will this work or not. Anxiety tends to impair concentration.
Our emotional & physical state
When we are in good physical condition – i.e. feeling rested, relaxed and comfortable – and our emotions are calm and benevolent, then we tend to be positive about things. This in turn raises self-esteem, which makes us more able to concentrate, if only because we don’t have to worry about how awful we are or life is.
Our psychological state
For example, if we are in an obsessional or distracted state our thoughts are pre-occupied, leaving little mental space to think about anything else.
It is much more difficult to concentrate if our surroundings keep intruding on our awareness, perhaps because it is noisy, too hot or too cold, the furniture is uncomfortable or the people around us are stressing out.
Expanding your concentration span
People sometimes refer to a concentration span : this is the time we can concentrate on a specific task before our thoughts wander. In learning concentrationskills, we aim to extend our concentration span – bearing in mind that we will have a different span for different tasks. It cannot be expanded to infinity! Most people find their level for most tasks round about an hour, but for some people and some tasks it will just be a few minutes, while for others it might be two or three hours.
The main barriers to concentrating are boredom, anxiety and day-dreaming. Thus in improving our concentration skills we need to counteract these barriers. The following three skills are basic to concentration: if you want to improve your concentration, start by practising them. They will be followed by further strategies which will allow you to build onto the basic skills.