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Counseling/How to control my focus and mind?


QUESTION: Whether I am playing the piano or listening to my teacher talk in class, even though my hands moving like playing and writing, my mind is either lost in other thoughts or completely blank. I only tend to focus when I push myself to focus like saying "FOCUS, C'MON!". Furthermore, most of time, when my mother is asking me something to do, my mind is pre-occupied and I don;t realize that she's asking me of something. I think too much and too deeply about petty little things such as my reactions to other people when they reply to something and also think very negatively!!There are always negative and unnecessary thoughts in my minds that decrease my level of trust in myself and cause a lot of depression. It's like everyday's a struggle and I live a very difficult life. How do I change this and become a better, more focused optimistic person and lead a better life?

ANSWER: Rajdeep,  It sounds like you've already taken some important steps toward meaningful change: 1) you've come to realize that your want something to be different, 2) you are pretty clear what you want to be different, 3) you realize that you're the one that needs to change things.  The single most important factor in successful therapy outcome is client motivation.  The next step is figuring out whether what you want to be different is even possible.  After all, why put in the energy and effort if the goal is not possible?  This is what I know about problems: by definition all problems have exceptions - times that the problem is either not happening or not the focus of attention.  For example, I once presented this idea to a group of colleagues in a hospice.  One of my colleagues asked, "What if the problem is dying" - a very appropriate question given the setting.  My reply was that dying is not a problem - it has no exception.  How you want to spend the rest of the time productively; how you want to resolve things with friends and family; how you want to plan for your demise - these are all possible goals.  In your case, the only way to know whether what you want to be doing differently is possible is to begin noticing the exceptions rather than focusing on the problem.  Notice times that your are able to stay focused - what's going on at those times?  What is helping your stay focused?  What is it that you're doing then that you need to do more of.  The solution is simple - that doesn't mean easy.  If you're doing more of what works, you will have less time to do what doesn't work.  Exceptions are the keys to figuring out whether your goal is possible and (if it is) the key to possible solutions.  Joel  

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

I don't quite understand what you mean. Can you please exactly tell me what I need to do to change, please?
Thank you

ANSWER: Specifically what part of what I wrote didn't you understand?  I'll try my best to clarify.  Joel

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I am unsure of what you meant overall. It all seemed kind of general and not specific to me.
Thank you.

Rajdeep:  if I were working with you in therapy, I would certainly ask you many questions to get as specific as possible but still rely on you to figure things out. Given the nature of this forum, greater specificity is not possible since we can't engage in a kind of dialogue that would require. I suggest that you reread my response and make it specific to you.  Joel  


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Joel Simon


General questions about counseling, psychotherapy and mental health.


Over 30 years as a therapist, clinical supervisor and solution-focused trainer. I've worked in a variety of settings including adolescent day treatment, inpatient psychiatric hospitals, community mental health clinics, and hospice. Further information is available on my website:

A founding member of the Solution Focused Brief Therapy Association, Academy of Certified Social Workers, Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in New York State.

Co-authored "Solution-Focused Brief Practice With Long-Term Clients in Mental Health Services: I'm More Than My Label." Authored: "Solution-Focused Practice in End-of-Life and Grief Counseling" Several articles published in professional journals including 2 with Insoo Kim Berg. Further details are available at

Masters of Social Work (Yeshiva University 1978). 5 years training in Transactional Analysis, certified in Advanced Ericksonian Psychotherapy and Hypnosis with the New York Society (NYSEPH), Advanced training and advanced supervision seminar in solution-focused brief therapy with the co-developers of the approach, Insoo Kim Berg and Steve de Shazer

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