How To Focus On Yourself And Not Others


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A tendency to focus on others too much can cause much pain and hinder the progress of an individual’s growth in various ways. By re-focusing on yourself rather than other people, you can take more positive steps forward in your life. How can we concentrate more on ourselves rather than on those around us?

The first step to focusing more on yourself rather than on others is to prioritize what is important to you. The next step after prioritising is to learn to say “no” very often. Secondly, you will be unable to focus on oneself if your inner voice is negative and judgmental. Being compassionate with yourself will help you develop a more positive inner voice and stop you from comparing yourself to others in a detrimental way.

Here are the few steps you could take to refocus on yourself instead of others.

Step 1: Get Rid Of The Non-Essentials

We often focus on others because we have committed ourselves to too many things in our lives that interfere with our capacity to concentrate on ourselves. In order to focus more on yourself rather than others, you first need to cut out the things that are not necessary in your life. You may feel overwhelmed if you are a part of several projects at once. You may feel like you are contributing less than you ought to. Then you will have negative impressions of yourself, and you will project that onto others. You may wonder whether they believe you are a poor contributor as well.

Keep Focus And Set Clear Priorities

A necessary first step to overcome this is to get rid of the things and commitments that are not essential to your life. Prioritisation gives your thinking and actions structure. There should be only one project given your full attention at any given time. 

In The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results*, Gary Keller makes the very powerful point that humans are at their best when they focus solely on one main objective. He describes it as a vital process to get to the bottom of just what that one thing should be. It is not always as easy as you may think, but well worth the effort due to the benefits it brings.

Could you prioritize your projects right now? What about your free time? Ask yourself, out of so many conflicting demands and activities, which ones will come first? The answer should be crystal clear in your mind. If it’s not, you have some work to do.

Your Priorities Communicated To Others Quickly And Clearly

You need to take a further step, however, to find inner peace and to worry less about what other people think of you.

Regardless of how clear your priorities are to yourself, others might have a different opinion.

Let’s say you’re interested in sports during your spare time. But then, out of goodwill, you offer your assistance to a local charity. How would you handle the situation if your sports team needs to train extra for a specific game just as the local charity needs all the help it can get to pull off its biggest collection event yet? If you say “no”, or if you say a partial “yes” to one of these commitments, how will you feel? Be sure to specify that another project may conflict when accepting to help or to take on a project. 

Make it clear that the quality and quantity of your involvement will depend largely on how intensively your number one project is to be. 

Step 2: Learn To Say No 

In order to reach your full potential and achieve your objectives, just prioritising is not enough. You must learn to say NO so that you can focus on yourself rather than the needs of others.

Strangely enough, we have come to believe that doing more is great for us. Why? Because we feel like people who are doing a lot in life have a better quality of life and are admired by others. It’s not true if you pay attention to what successful people do. Most of them focus on doing only a few things well.  One can find some misleading examples. For instance, Richard Branson. Hasn’t he built billion-dollar businesses in so many areas that it would be impossible to count them all? Yes, but he always did what he was best at. He sets an incredible dream that appears almost impossible to achieve, and then builds a company with brilliant people to realize his dream. Visionary and leader, that’s what he’s always been. Does he care about details or other aspects? Honestly not.

Saying No – The Psychology

Whenever you say “no” to something, you are intensifying your YES on your priority choice. Your priorities will influence the people involved, impacted by or judging you for your choice. When you feel uncomfortable saying “no”, remember that this will bring more quality to your life, for yourself and others.

Say No to Focus on yourself more

Are you somebody who tends to say “yes” way too much and often? Then becoming more aware and more mindful is the right place to start. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Has “yes” been the wrong choice of words for me recently?
  • What is the reason for my yes?
  • When faced with the question, how did I feel?
  • In what way did I feel after answering “yes”?
  • How can I say “no” next time?

Next time someone asks you to help them, pause. Don’t answer quickly. Take a moment to think whether you should say “no”. Ask for a couple nights of sleep if you can. Our world is becoming increasingly fast, which makes us feel pressured to react and respond rapidly to everything. Tell them that you want to take the time to consider it because if you do help them, you want to be able to commit to it at the level it deserves. Take the expectation for an instant “yes” answer off the table right from the outset. This will lay the groundwork for saying “no” if you need to once you consider it.

Step 3: Self-Compassion Rather Than Self-Esteem

Many of us focus on chasing after higher self-confidence and self-esteem. Sometimes we even pursue career paths that we think will make us more self-confident. 

Our own insecurities make us want other people to like or admire us. 

Self-Esteem Gone Wrong: Focused More on Others

In the efforts to obtain self-esteem, however, we often feel under pressure to complete certain actions which are socially acceptable. To be admired, we appear to have to accomplish things which are often beyond our reach.

It means that YOU ARE LINKING YOUR SELF-WORTH TO THE ACTIONS that you feel you need to take.

Under this approach, if you do not take action, if you happen to rest, then you are not worthwhile. The truth of the matter is that SELF-ESTEEM does not have a very positive effect. In her book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself*, Kristin Neff discusses how our distorted view of ourselves makes us overestimate our performance. A high sense of self-esteem can also result in people downplaying others to protect their own image. An undesirable characteristic that is easy to avoid. This focus on our own self-esteem will cause us to focus more on what others think of us, not less.

More Connection Through Self-Compassion

So if self-esteem is not the way to go, then what should the focus be? SELF-COMPASSION is something that should really be your focus. Self-esteem was about showing how different you were from others, while self-compassion centers around how similar you are to others. You are always never alone no matter what problem or pain you are going through. That is a guarantee. It is likely that someone somewhere else is going through exactly what you are. And paradoxically, realizing this will help you concentrate less on others and more on yourself.

Self-Compassion Works To Re-Focus On You

When we practice self-compassion, it can act to calm our instinctive social anxieties and helps us focus less on those around us.

Historically, being social animals, humans were unlikely to survive unless they lived in a community or group with other humans. This explains the reasons we feel so insecure and crave approval in our increasingly individualistic cultures. Unfortunately, we still tend to seek the approval of EVERYONE around us. Because not everyone can relate to what you are going through or care about you, this can lead to much pain. Instead of focusing on others, SELF-COMPASSION benefits you.

Even if it’s only virtual, you’ll feel reconnected to a community and can refocus on yourself.

A kinder and more focused inner voice will develop when you make the focus yourself rather than judging yourself in comparison to others.

In addition, self-compassion helps you retrain your inner voice so that it sounds more like a friend rather than a judging peer.

It is very helpful to your mindset to re-train your mind to be kinder to yourself. To delve deeper into this important aspect which will help you focus on yourself better, read Kristin Neff’s book, Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself*.

So hopefully this article will help you take the first steps in order to focus more on yourself, and less on others. This approach has helped others do just that. Explore the approach and see if it helps you. There is nothing to lose and much to gain.   

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