HomeCommentarySelective Focus

Selective Focus

Some years ago, a couple came to me to seek help for their marital problems. The husband said, “My wife always sees only the negative things about me. She only notices the negative things I do.” With betrayed hurt, he wryly said, “I bet you, Father, if I were a dead person risen from the dead, my wife would complain and accuse me of contributing to the population problem.”

I laughed at his sarcasm, but I remembered that in psychology, the attitude of the wife is called “selective-negative focus.” This is shown by people who see only the negative aspects in people and events. Selective-negative focus is when you always see the bad things in life.

The opposite of this behavior is naivete, where you only see the good things. You are not balanced in your outlook.

Today, we see an example of selective-negative focus. A mute man is able to speak. And what is the reaction of the public who witness this event? They say that Jesus is doing that with the power of the prince of devils. But the reaction of Jesus is wonderful. He does not allow his actions to be determined by the reaction of the people. Negative or positive, he will just do what he wants to do because what he wants to do is for the good of people.

What is our reflection for today? Basically, there are two things.

First, when you encounter a person afflicted with selective-negative focus, just let what that person does or says go in one ear and out the other, and go ahead with what you are supposed to do.

But the other advice that I offer you this afternoon is: Do not just dismiss all the negative comments that you receive as coming from a sick mind. There could be a grain of truth in what they say. And then, we can turn around the negative comments that we receive to teach and to lead us to examine ourselves.

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Then, what we make of these products of selective-negative focus will redound to our own welfare and good.

Do not give in to selective-negative focus; but also do not be totally impervious to it. Pray that we may see as God sees, and may we react as Jesus reacts.

Daily reflection of Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas, prelate of the Archdiocese of Lingayen-Dagupan. Mt 12:24, Looking For Jesus

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