How to Focus on Yourself and Not Others in 3 Steps
Focusing too much on others not only caused me much pain in the past, but I also feel like it delayed my personal development in many ways. By re-focusing on myself more than others, I was able to take leaps forward. My hope is that reading this article will help you come forward, too. So, how can we focus more on ourselves instead of others?
In order to focus more on yourself and not on others, you should be clear about what is important to you, and what is not. After you have decided and prioritised, the next step is to learn to say “no” very often. Finally, it will be very difficult to focus on yourself when adopting a negative or judging inner voice. Self-compassion will help you have a more positive inner voice and also stop comparing yourself to others in a detrimental way.
Step 1: Cut Out the Non-Essential to Feel Lighter and Focused
In order to be able to focus more on yourself rather than on others, you first have to cut out the non-essential things in your life. Quite often, we focus on others because we have committed ourselves to too many things. For instance, if you are involved in several projects at a time, you may feel overwhelmed. You will have the feeling that you are not contributing as much or as well as you should have. This will lead to negative thoughts about yourself. Your self-image will suffer, and you will start projecting it onto to others. You will wonder whether they, too, think you are a poor contributor.
Set Clear Priorities in Every Area of Your Life to Keep Focus
The best way to overcome this, in my opinion, is to first cut out the non-essential projects, commitments, and things in your life. I, personally, strongly believe in clear prioritisation. There should be only ONE professional project getting a “number 1” grade in your head. No other project should be equal in importance. Can you prioritise your projects right now? The same goes for your free time. Ask yourself: “in case of conflicting demands or activities, which one will come first?” The answer should be perfectly clear in your head.
Communicate Your Priorities to Others Quickly and Clearly
Imagine you are involved in a sports team during your free time. But then, you offer your help to a local charity organisation out of goodwill. What will happen if your team needs to train a little more for a specific game, at exactly the same time when the local charity needs all possible help to pull off its biggest donation event of the year? And how will you feel saying “no”, or only a partial “yes” to any of these two commitments you made? When accepting to help or to take on a project, make sure to specify that another project may conflict, at times. Make it clear that your quantity and quality of involvement may vary strongly, depending on how intensive your NUMBER ONE project will be. The best, of course, is to do this as soon as possible. But any time is a good time, once you have made the priorities clear to yourself.
How To Focus on Yourself: A Guide
… and many more. Living your life according to what other people say, think, or do may give you immediate reassurance. But, in the long run, it will make you feel unsatisfied and unhappy.
Looking to others for immediate answers takes some of the pressure off of you. By doing this, it feels like you don’t need to make every decision. And when things go poorly, you may feel less responsible if you can point to someone else and say “they told me to do it,” or “I was just following their lead.”
If you are aiming to live up to others’ expectations over your own goals, you’ll have to live with the fact that their “happiness with you” will never replace being happy with yourself. This can eventually leave you feeling drained and down on yourself.
What Does Focusing on Yourself Mean?
To focus on yourself means to consciously devote your energy towards your own self-fulfillment and happiness. This is the bottom line of focusing on yourself, but in practice, it can look different depending on what your goals are.
Focusing on yourself is such an individual process for everyone. Hence, while it is rooted in the same idea, each person will find their own version that works for their current situation and goals.
When is it a good time to Focus on Yourself?
First, let it be said, any time is a good time to focus on yourself! You do not need to have any specific reason to focus on yourself. And if your motivation is to simply improve as a person or better understand yourself, that’s amazing.
However, people often come to the realization that it is time to focus on themselves BECAUSE they are currently facing the consequences of NOT doing so for a prolonged time. In these circumstances, people are motivated by feeling they need to focus on themselves and figure out how to make a change in their life.
1. Recently Ending a Relationship
Being in a long-term relationship or going quickly from one relationship to the next can feel like you have become distracted from individual goals or even have lost parts of yourself that you now miss. Many people feel the need to take a break from dating to ‘focus on themselves’, meaning reestablish life by themselves.
2. Feeling Exhausted from Giving to Others
Generosity is a great trait to have. Caring deeply and wanting to be there for the people you care about is admirable. But if you overextend your energy outward you may find you are exhausted and left with little for yourself.
This can happen easily if you are a parent or caretaker or just trying to be there for someone during a heavy emotional burden such as a lost loved one or divorce. In this case, focusing on yourself may look like figuring out what your boundaries are, taking time to acknowledge and work through your own feelings, or finding time for something you enjoy.
3. Feeling Burnt Out from Your Work
Stories of people who have worked hard and seemingly have it all, but still feel unhappy are unfortunately more common than you would think. The anticipation of future pay-offs often leads people to dismiss their current feelings. But those feelings are valuable messages about what is and is not right for you. And they often can not be outrun.
If you are feeling burnt out and unmotivated, focusing on yourself might entail lots of introspection. And asking yourself questions like, “What makes me happy?” “Where do I want to be in five years?” will help you sort out the discrepancy between what you are doing and what you want.
4. After a Major Setback or Failure
Maybe it was not getting into your dream school or losing your job. Whatever the case, taking the time to focus on yourself can help you decide where to go from here. Failures can be someone’s strongest motivator to give it another try and succeed. Failure can be a sign you’re on the wrong path. And it can be the push you need towards something different.
Failure can also be crushing and make you want to stay down. Taking the time to focus on yourself after a failure can be the difference between getting stuck at rock bottom and feeling more motivated than ever towards your next endeavor. In this case, to focus on yourself may mean self-evaluating where you went wrong, reevaluating priorities, and setting new goals.
Check In With Yourself regularly
The thing about goals is they’re bound to change over time, so don’t fret if you start down one path, and then change your mind. Instead, “always have visions of where you want to be and how you want to improve,” Marianna Strongin, PsyD, clinical psychologist and founder of Strong In Therapy, tells Bustle. “This makes the journey more clear.” And if your current path starts to feel wrong, you’ll be able to adjust.
The process of reaching goals or making changes can be overwhelming, especially if you’re being tough on yourself, or expecting it to all happen overnight. So check in with your thoughts, and assess how they make you feel.
“Are they critical? Are they motivating? Are they pushing you forward or backward? In order to achieve momentum you must first change your thinking,” Strongin says. “Be kind to yourself. Your thinking voice should resemble a cheerleader.”
Consider how you’ll reach your goals
Trying to reach your goals all at once means you’re lessing likely to do them well — if at all. So take a look at all the things you’d like to accomplish, create a few solid goals, and then come up with a plan that approaches it in smaller chunks. “This may include thinking about people who can help support you, or resources that you will need,” Wachtler says. “Planning ahead also includes thinking about potential roadblocks to success and proactively thinking about how you will overcome them.”
When you get home in the evening, take a few moments to be grateful for whatever you accomplished, or whatever went well that day. And if you reached a big goal, take time to celebrate.
“Too often we make progress, achieve some success, and immediately think about what’s next,” Michaud says. “If you don’t celebrate and look at how far you’ve come, it’s pointless. You’ll be just be chasing the ‘next’ thing, and never feel the way you want to feel.”