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Shifting Focus

Updated: Mar 16, 2020

When I started to write this note, I had a hard time finding a flow. The words wouldn't just come out. See, I had initially thought I would write a commentary about the news that has been dominating all our screens this past week. I thought I would write about racism in the press or the lack of ethics that we are seeing in journalism. I thought I would write about the daytime talk shows and cable news programmes debating ad nauseam whether or not racism exists in news as has been evident when it comes to stories about Meghan Markle. 

I stopped writing. Something was telling me it was not what I really wanted to say. I didn't want to add to the noise, I didn't want to be yet another negative voice pointing a finger at what is wrong with this world. What I want The Citrine Room

 to be is the place where our perspective shifts, a place where the narrative is one of connection, understanding, and ultimately growth. That's the intention behind the curated articles in the #Repost section of the site.

I am all for differing points of view but not when they are rammed down my throat or where I am bullied into submission (Piers Morgan's interview with Afua Hirsch on Good Morning Britain is a perfect example). Aaargh..there I go again, going down that rabbit hole of negativity that I said I wasn't going to do! See how easy it is?

It is so easy for us to find the negative than the positive. It is so easy for us to listen to the voices of negativity than those of reason because negativity about others appeals to our insecurities and fears that we are not enough, that we aren't successful enough or good looking enough or rich enough etc etc. It makes us feel less bad about our own life, the life we think is failing compared to what we think the way others are living.

When we watch talk shows whose sole purpose is to incite tension for ratings or when we read headlines whose sole purpose is click bait, we feel this anger and self-righteousness. They're easy emotions to feel. Easy because it doesn't require introspection or self-awareness. The hard work is looking at ourselves in the mirror and questioning who we are and what we want to bring to this world. The hard work is focusing on ourselves, taking care of our own backyard so to speak, instead of looking across the fence to see and compare what others are doing and how they're living.

That's what I love about the stories I find for #Repost each week. They feature people who are bringing perspective and passion to the world. People like Malcolm Gladwell who is best known for expanding and challenging the way we think about things. This is what I learned about the writer from reading this piece in the New Statesman: he is so comfortable with criticism. He's ok with it. He even welcomes it, especially if it is followed by intelligent debate, a meeting of the minds. His emotional intelligence means he understands that not everyone will see the world his way but with respect and understanding there is enough space in this world for healthy and constructive opinions.

Then there is an article that I found on (Shonda Rhimes online venture) about Indie Lee whose terminal diagnosis was the gift she didn't know she wanted or needed. Her brain tumour, and her determination to fight her diagnosis led her to create her eponymous skincare brand, one that adheres to ethical and sustainable practices and non-toxic ingredients. When once given 6 months to live, over a decade later Lee continues to grow her company. One might argue her passion and her purpose saved her. One might argue her focus on herself, her focus on what she was bringing to the world saved her. By taking care of her own space that she occupies in this universe positively and authentically, she is spreading that energy outwards.

Those are just two examples of fascinating stories that you will find on the website this week. There is a profile on the award-winning director Bong Joon Ho as well as an interview with Eddie Murphy (who was a favourite of mine growing up). And then there is an eye-opening article from 2017 written by journalist Reni Eddo-Lodge. The title (which is the title of her book): 'Why I'm No Longer Talking To White People About Racism'. 

Our emotions are the foundation of who we are. Everything we do, how we think, what we believe, is a result of an emotion that preceded it. Understanding the provenance of those emotions allows us to take control of what we put out there and what arouses a reaction from us. The psychotherapist Esther Perel whose TED Talk has been viewed millions of times, says what we feel and what we think isn't confined to our homes, let alone our heads. It infiltrates all areas of our life, including work. In her interview in the FT she says, 

“You bring yourself to work in more ways than you are even aware of. Because what you bring to work is a worldview, and your place in it, and what you expect from others...That influences the degree to which you can collaborate with other people, the degree to which you take feedback as constructive versus responding defensively, how you ask for help, whether you can delegate . . . that’s the stuff that isn’t really looked at.”

Look, I'm not trying to be preachy, after all not only is my blog a stream of my consciousness and evidence of what I've been thinking about (and I am so grateful you spend some of your valuable time with me),  mine is just one voice. That said, I do have a responsibility to this space that we share. It's important to me that what I am putting out there pushes us, myself included, to think in ways we may not have considered before, intelligently, sensitively, and progressively. It's as Michelle Obama said, "When they go low, we go high." And high isn't a judgement, it is an awareness of a moral standard that places value on truth, honesty, respect, compassion, empathy, and fairness.

I'm not saying we should only focus on good news and happy stories. I am saying it all comes down to expanding our consciousness, widening perspective on how we think about the events that are shaping the news and how those stories are covered. Question everything. Just because it's on tv or in a newspaper doesn't mean it's true or accurate. Just because it has gone viral doesn't mean it is of mental and emotional value. And then find a narrative that focuses on facts.

That kind of narrative, unfortunately, doesn't necessarily seep into the public consciousness as much as it should. Even when tweeting or reposting something, I do so with the intent of  'what/how am I adding to this story?' Follower and viewer count actually counts. Companies, networks, all use those analytics to justify their content to advertisers no matter how damaging it may be.

For me, it is important that where I put my energy and attention deserves it. That's how I feel about your time and mental space. And it is with that kind of intention that I found my focus to finish writing this note.

Monita xo


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