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Focusing on yourself is selfish.
Or is it?
In this article, you're going to learn the truth.
You'll learn what it actually means to focus on yourself.
And then you'll learn the practical steps you can take to get your life and energy back.
I guarantee you'll see focusing on yourself in a different light by the time you're done.
First, Why You Should Focus On Yourself
What does it mean to you?
Do you consider it a bad word?
Or do you few it in a positive light?
Whatever you believe, it's hard to dispute the power of focusing on one thing at a time.
And in this case, that thing is you.
One of the challenges of managing your mental health is learning to focus on the right things.
And people who struggle with anxiety or depression often put the focus too much on others.
On what others want.
On what others expect.
On what others are doing.
It's dangerous to put too much focus on others.
Because you have zero control over what they do.
Most people live in a bubble, and their span of attention extends only a few feet in front of them at any given time.
It's sad, but it's true.
Now, I'm not saying you should be like everyone else, that you should only worry about your immediate needs.
I'm talking about a certain kind of focus.
A kind of focus that is a mix of intention and self-love.
This focus, the kind of focus that is self-directed and self-compassionate, is a gift that keeps on giving.
Here's why and how to focus on yourself.
Three Huge Reasons For Focusing On Yourself (And the Steps to Take to Become the Person You Want to Be)
Reason 1: You Know Yourself Best
It seems obvious.
But obvious, simple truths often hide in plain sight and have the biggest impact on your life.
There's a reason that simple statements get repeated.
They get to the heart of the matter.
When it comes to changing your own life or getting yourself out of a rut, you have to start with yourself.
If you got into this rut, you can get yourself out of this rut.
Of course, you may need some assistance.
But the kind of assistance that will ultimately help you must include a self-directed, compassionate focus from YOU and only you.
How can anyone else's body and mind choose the path that is right for you?
Is anyone else able to feel your gut instinct?
Does anyone else have your exact experiences?
Mentors are great.
Gurus can provide guidance. A spiritual or religious community can only help so much.
Because you are the one who must try a path on for size and decide if the change it produces is for you.
This starts with knowing yourself well.
Step 1: How to Focus on Yourself By Knowing Yourself
Getting to know yourself begins and ends with the intention you set.
If you don't have an intention to get to know yourself better, it's not going to work.
First, set an intention.
That intention could be a single or a short phrase. It could be a series of song lyrics that speak to you. It could be anything, but it must be set by you.
Then, pursue activities that are in line with your chosen intention.
If you're really going to focus on yourself, you are going to need to move into a new future.
You're going to do something different than you did before.
Finally, gather data and determine what it means for you.
As you select and begin to participate in new activities, make note of how you act, think, and feel as you're doing those activities.
Did the new activities--and the situations they put you in--feel right? Did they jive with who you are as a person?
What kind of relationships do you have with yourself when you do these new activities?
Are you smiling and thinking good thoughts, or are you beating yourself up with negativity?
Taking these steps not only to introduce yourself to new situations but to learn from those situations as well is how you will both know yourself and focus on yourself for the long term.
Reason 2: Change Starts With You (And These Mental Practices)
Here's another simple statement that you probably intuitively know but may not have fully embraced yet.
You are the change.
You spark it, and you fan the flames.
Whose thoughts are the precursor to the big decisions and actions in your life?
No one else can get inside your head.
If your thoughts are muddy and murky, that's OK.
It doesn't mean that you are that way.
It just means that you have had a part in where you are now, and you will have an equally impactful part in getting to a new place.
Every positive action begins with a thought.
Eventually, your thoughts become things.
If you think about all of the times you failed in life, you will bring more of that energy to you.
That energy will be your downfall.
Because you will start to spot more ways that you can fail in life.
This creates mental health issues.
But if you think about success, if you think about hope and potential and greatness, you will start to notice more of those kinds of things.
Don't think yourself into a net.
Think yourself into a vast, oceanic view.
Here's how to do it.
Step 2: How to Focus on Yourself by Changing What You Do
There is an especially helpful practice in Japan called "kaizen."
At its core, it's about incremental improvement, very small changes that build up over time.
Getting one percent better each day compounds into a landslide of improvement in just one month.
Think kaizen thoughts.
Start very, very small.
Ask yourself, "What is one tiny action I can take today to focus on myself?"
Maybe it's setting aside one minute to step outside and take a few, deep breaths.
It doesn't have to be difficult or earth-shattering. In fact, that's the entire point of the kaizen approach.
Small seems manageable, and it's what you manage to do in the first place that grows over time.
Every day, ask yourself one tiny thought.
You'll soon find that you are committing to more and more tiny actions each day.
The result is that those actions compound, and you get more "you" time in the process.
Reason 3: Only You Can Choose Your Goals in Life
Self-directed and self-compassionate focus is not easy, but it is worthwhile.
And it becomes worth its weight in gold when you take this new kind of focus that you're aiming at yourself and you use it to choose exactly what you want from life.
The only way I ever got anything I wanted out of life was to:
- Know what I want out of life
- Pursue it in a transparent, honest, and intentional way
- Write it down and focus on it constantly
Struggling with your mental health has a lot to do with being scattered.
With split attention.
With worrying about too many things and too many people.
When you set your mind on your goals, you start to direct your focus and activity.
Step 3: How to Focus On Yourself By Setting Goals That Are Right For You
They've been around forever because they work, both for personal goals, as well as for job and career goals.
Here's the breakdown:
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Timely
How can you come up with the goals that are right for you?
Set a goal to make a goal.
Write them down.
Getting your self-directed on paper has been proven to make it more likely that you will accomplish what you set out to do.
I think it's because writing your aspirations on paper makes them more real to you.
It makes them come alive in the real world, not just in your mind.
Because the reality is this: you're not an unhappy person.
No one is just one thing.
There is actually no such thing as positive people or negative people, happy people or sad people.
Society uses labels like those to save time and brainpower.
If you slow down to think about it, each person is unique and infinitely complex.
Take me, for instance.
At any given time, I have a mental health condition. That condition might be agitated one moment and ecstatic the next.
I also know that I'm a caring person because I believe that about myself, and I've set an intention to continue to be caring.
Now, that intention means that I also must care for myself because no good comes from a broken, unhappy person that has nothing left to give.
The relationship I have with myself is number one, and my goals reflect that.
It does me no good to set goals that do not consider my own mental health and physical health.
That would be like spending more than you earn as a household or business.
It might feel exciting and fun for a while, but soon it all comes crashing down as the debt piles up.
The key is spending time on what matters to you.
That's what you're looking for.
Whether it's time with people you love or time by yourself to wind down and reflect, only you can set the goals and make the decisions that give you joy.
In the End, What Focusing On Yourself Comes Down To
It all comes back to the word of the day.
You know yourself best, and only by establishing a self-directed habit of intention and self-compassion will you begin to open yourself up to what's possible for you.
Changing your emotional health starts with you and no one else.
No one can move your body and turn the wheels of your mind.
You have to do that for yourself.
And when you do it, your future will start to come into focus.
This certain kind of focus is not selfish.
It's not a bad word.
It's choosing yourself so that you can become the person know you can be.
One of the major culprits of mental unease is a lack of clarity on what you want and where you're going.
When you take the time to focus on yourself, your life begins to emerge, like an owl at night following the light of the moon.
In the end, it's not so much about how to focus on yourself.
It's about doing it or not.
I hope you'll choose the most direct path there is to get more what you want of life and better yourself in the process.