We See What We Look For

Nov 16, 2015 | Anxiety, Blog

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I’m not really a clothes and shoes kind of girl (make-up and hair stuff is more my thing!) they tend to pass me by and a rarely pay them much attention. However, I’d decided to myself that I needed some new trainers and without actively going shopping for some, I just had this idea lingering in the back of my mind.

After that, a weird thing happened. I started to see trainers, everywhere.

I mean, they were really jumping out at me; on other people, in magazines, in shops, in adverts.

I couldn’t help but notice trainers everywhere I went. Needless to say, it didn’t take me long to find the perfect pair.

Now, there’s something curious at work here and I wonder if you’ve ever noticed a similar thing.

My parents would often talk about how they see the numbers 27 and 30 everywhere (their birthdays), my best friend always spots green cars, teacher Gabby Bernstein sees owls.

Once we have an idea about something and it takes root in the subconscious mind, our brain causes us to notice it more in our lives.


brain overload The brain is constantly filtering information, helping us to notice certain things and ignore other things. We have to; without this mental filtering there would be far too many bits of information for us to cope with (400 billion bits of information PER SECOND, apparently!)

Think of it like planting a seed and that seed dictates what we experience in our lives. I planted a seed about trainers, and I noticed them everywhere.

Often it comes down to our beliefs; my parents ‘believe’ that they see the numbers 27 and 30 everywhere; and so their brains are ‘tuned in’ to notice these numbers more than others.

There was a time when I was anxious that I believed that the world was a dangerous place.

I saw danger everywhere!

Every time I crossed the street, watched people doing sport or saw children playing, I couldn’t help but notice the potential for an accident.

(Nowdays I recognise that things are safe, most of the time, and I don’t notice these things nearly so much. I changed that belief and uprooted that pesky subconscious seed!)

In his book ‘The Happiness Advantage‘ Shawn Achor makes note of the fact that lawyers are more likely to be depressed than many other professionals.

He argues that this is partly due to the fact that many lawyers spend their working days looking for mistakes and problems. A critical eye is a must in this profession. However, this can be a problem for their personal lives since they’re more likely to be overly critical and to notice the negative aspects of their lives. They’re more ‘tuned in’ to the negatives.

The fact is, we notice what we look for, not what is necessarily there.

So how can we ‘plant positive seeds’ and attune our minds to look for the positive things?

Here are 3 ideas of things you can try that may help:

  • Practise the ‘3 Little Things’ technique. Make a list of 3 things you’re grateful for, 3 things you’re looking forward to and 3 things that went well today. When you do this, you help your mind to tune in more to positive things, so that you notice them in your day to day life.
  • What are you telling yourself? The things we tell ourselves have a huge impact over our lives. Start telling yourself that the world is a safe place, that good things are coming your way and that things always work out. Write these things down on a card and carry it with you, or stick it on the fridge.
  • If you notice danger everywhere, make a note of all the safety all around you. If you worry about getting ill, recognise all the ways that you’re strong and healthy. If you’re stressed about an upcoming presentation, remind yourself of all the times you’ve given presentations and it’s gone well.

I would love to know in the comments about anything that you find yourself ‘noticing’ everywhere and please share this with anyone you think it might help!

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  1. Dianne

    I just wanted to say THANK YOU. Negativity has always been one of my biggest struggles. This was such a booster. As well, everytime I notice myself getting stressed and start griping about EVERYTHING that is piling up on me, such as dirty laundy, dirty dishes, etc.; I tell myself that I am blessed to have food to dirty my dishes, and clothing to wear. We take TOO much for granted. Thanks again.

    • Chloe B

      Thank YOU Diane for your sweet and inspiring comment xx


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