Here’s an interesting quote by William Walker Atkinson:
“Expectant Attention is a very potent and active form of Interested Attention. In it you not only are interested in an object, subject or state of affairs, but, in addition, you “believe” in certain conditions or facts, and “expect” that certain results will occur by reason of their presence. You not only have your Attention directed toward the thing by reason of your Interest in it, and see that which is in accordance with this, but you also “expect,” i. e., confidently believe, that certain events will happen or come to pass concerning those things, or proceeding from them.
The cat watching at a mouse-hole, or the dog digging out a woodchuck, manifests the keenest and most active kind
of attention imaginable. This, not only because the animal is intensely interested in the object of obtaining his prey, but also because he hopes to capture it, “expects” to secure it—because he “believes” that he will get it in the end. If the animal did not so keenly believe and expect the successful result, his interest and attention would lack that intensity which is now present; and his energies would not be so actively called forth and manifested.
This rule is equally true of human endeavor. When you believe in the probability of a successful outcome of an undertaking, you experience the keenest interest in the work leading to it; your work is in direct relation to that expectation.
If, on the contrary, you entertain grave doubts of the efficacy of your efforts and work, your energies will slacken, your interest will abate, and your attention will relax—and, as a consequence, your work will become less effective. Again, if you not only doubt and question the successful outcome, but also go so far as to actually “believe” that the effort will result in failure, then your interest will become dead, your attention weak, and your work of the poorest and most ineffective quality. More than this, if your “belief,” and “expectant attention” be that of the certainty of failure, then you will actually find yourself unconsciously working with that idea in mind, and toward that end—you will be deliberately (though subconsciously) “riding to a fall.”
What has been said above concerning the effect of Interest, Attention and Expectancy, upon the conscious activities of your mind, is trebly true concerning your subconscious activities. The subconscious mind is peculiarly liable to be affected by “beliefs” of the kind noted, to “suggestions” in accordance with these coming from your conscious mentality. It accepts as true your beliefs and convictions, your confident expectations, your earnest hopes concerning the probable result of courses of action or existing causes—and it proceeds to manifest its powers in the direction so pointed out to it. Accordingly, it blinds the Attention to facts, ideas and conditions running contrary to your beliefs and expectations, and it renders keen your powers of perception of those facts, ideas, and conditions which agree with your beliefs and expectations.
The subconscious mentality is very active—it works even while you sleep, and while you are thinking of other things— and, though in the first place it is influenced greatly by your conscious thoughts and beliefs, it eventually acquires control over the latter to a marked degree. Inasmuch as over seventy-five percent of your mental operations are performed on the sub-conscious planes of mentation, you will see that this subconscious mentality is capable of influencing your mental attitude, and your mental direction of effort, to a very considerable extent. Accordingly, you will realize how important it is to have your “beliefs” and “expectant attention” under control, and to have them working in the right direction.”
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