You would think that knowing how to make yourself happy would be pretty simple. Who else would know what you want to do, have, achieve, or be more than you do? That’s where it gets complicated. Because no one else knows all those things, but you may not either! By intentionally stopping in order to focus on yourself, you can get back in touch with what makes you happy and is important to you.
So, how do you focus on yourself? By putting all of your energy into your goals, desires, and personal joy, you can bring yourself peace and happiness. Focusing on yourself implies setting healthy boundaries, trusting yourself, and understanding and building your habits. By doing this, you will have a greater understanding of who you are and who you desire to be.
How To Focus on Yourself: A Guide
Many people make the mistake of looking to other people for their own happiness. This can be done in many ways:
- by always seeking the approval of others,
- letting others lead your life for you,
- comparing yourself to others,
… 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.”
But each time you fall back on the lead of others you become less and less in tune with your own thoughts and feelings.
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.
Keep reading to get a better understanding of what it means to focus on yourself, along with why it is important, and how to do it!
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.
When one person says they are taking time to focus on themselves, they may make changes that are totally different from what you would choose to do. And that’s entirely okay!
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.
Some reasons people may feel the need to commit to focusing on themselves include:
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.
In this case, focusing on yourself may mean getting back…:
- …into hobbies you drifted from,
- …to a personal goal you lost focus on, or
- …in touch with your individual opinions after following along with your partner’s for some time.
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.
Why is Focusing on Yourself Important?
Taking the time to focus on yourself is so important because you can’t outrun the problems you have with yourself. When you feel in tune with yourself and at your best, think of how…:
- your relationships are positively impacted,
- you perform better at work,
- you are more likely to take on a new challenge, or
- even just how you wake up with a more positive attitude.
The relationship you have with yourself influences how you approach every area of your life. So it is well worth the investment.
Only You Can Do This for Yourself
It is important that you focus on the work you need to do with yourself because no one else can. Cultivating a healthy relationship with yourself is something you have to do by yourself and for yourself.
If this sounds intimidating, try to rather think of it as empowering. You are the only one who experiences your exact emotions and thoughts. Hence, you are the only one who has the power to confront them. You have that power, and in practicing it you will only grow more confident in it.
Also, that is not to say you can’t reach out for the support of your close families or friends. Talking to others about your journey with yourself will likely make you realize, even in this individual process, that you are not alone. No one is perfect and everyone is learning. This means that everyone has to work on themselves at some point.
What Do You Gain from Focusing on Yourself?
As mentioned, focusing on yourself is a highly individual process. And the benefits you get from doing so are no exception. So, all the things you gain in the process will depend upon what your goals are and what exactly you do.
However, there are a few key aspects to focusing on yourself, that anyone who commits to the process can expect to see improvement in.
Lacking self-awareness becomes troublesome when we act out of emotion. Someone who flies into fits of rage and hurtful words only to immediately regret it is acting out of emotion. By becoming aware of your emotions, you can understand and cope with them, rather than letting them get out of control and affect your behavior.
Self-awareness also allows you to identify why you feel the way you do. Rather than feeling at loss to your emotional whims, you can identify what is affecting your mood and modify it to best suit yourself.
While focusing on yourself, you may be surprised by what you realize and learn. The next step to take with all that new information is accepting it! Accepting yourself is the key to a healthy relationship with yourself. It is incredibly important and yet, many people struggle with it.
Self-acceptance is not often taught. And if you do have someone in your life who encourages you to accept yourself, they are likely met with competing forces from the society and the media who encourage self-doubt and insecurity.
Now, when people consciously decide to focus on themselves, aren’t they looking to improve themselves? Yes, that is true, but self-acceptance and self-improvement can certainly go hand in hand.
To fully accept yourself does not mean to say you are perfect and see no flaws. Self-acceptance entails seeing yourself for both the positive and the negative and continuing to love and care for yourself. By practicing self-acceptance over self-hate, you want to invest in caring for and bettering yourself. Take pride in the things you like about yourself and understand some areas need work and that is okay!
3. Learn to Trust Yourself
Take a second and ask yourself: do I trust myself?
Fully trusting yourself can be scary, because people are taught to look to important figures around them for reassurance since childhood. Think of a little kid who looks back at their parent after everything they do. Self-doubt can easily become second nature as you try to anticipate your own shortcomings and mistakes so you can avoid them.
An individual who does not trust themselves is riddled with indecisiveness over even small decisions. They may know what they want to do but refuse to make a definitive choice without consulting a friend, family member, or many people to form a consensus. If you do not trust your abilities, you may steer clear of new commitments or challenges, limiting yourself significantly.
When you begin to trust yourself, you may still choose to consider the advice of people you trust and care about. But you no longer need it to make decisions or commitments. Fully trusting yourself does not mean you will always be right or do things the absolute best they can be done. But you are confident you know what’s best for you and that if things do not go according to plan, you can handle it.
By taking your focus away from what other people think or what other people would do, you will make choices for yourself and see that everything will be okay! After all, you are the one who has to live with any choices you make. So, you want to take control of them and make them with confidence.
4. A Clear Idea of What Matters to You
Without an idea of what really matters to you, what guides the things you do? You may be living without much intention or you may be simply following what others tell you. Living in these ways often leads to dissatisfaction and a feeling of being lost or disconnected from yourself and your purpose.
By identifying what matters most to you, you give yourself grounding and guiding principles to live your life by. You will find these useful when life becomes stressful, confusing, or just plain hard and you need to remember why to keep going.
During the process of looking inward and focusing on yourself, you will come to find what is most important to you. You may become more aware of an underlying value that guides how you live your life. You may realize what things in your life make you truly and consistently happy. And you may define a goal that is pivotal to what you want in life. The beauty is, you may discover a combination of these things, all of them, or other ideas and things that motivate and are important to you.
Nowadays, everyone faces more distractions and outside influences than ever before.
Many people are quick to interject their opinion or offer up advice. And it can be hard to refrain from letting that cloud your own thoughts. With social media and modern marketing, ideas are constantly being proposed to us, a few of which align with our goals or promote our wellbeing.
If you do not want to think about it and it does not serve you in any positive way, why are those thoughts there? You deserve to master some control over what you devote your thoughts too.
When you focus on yourself, you slowly learn to let go of some of these distractions and influences. Eliminating them clears up your mind for what you need or want to think about. Mental clarity will allow you to focus, make good decisions, and will reduce anxiety.
How Do You Focus on Yourself?
If you are ready to focus on yourself, where do you start?
Do Not Be Afraid to Be Selfish
The idea of being selfish may feel uncomfortable and far from anything you want to do but hear this out. If thus far you have been giving too much of your focus outward, you may feel selfish redirecting it back to yourself. That is not entirely your fault, because we are taught from childhood not to be selfish. This is a good thing when practiced right, but not when you begin to self-sacrifice in order to give to others.
You will need to break off feelings of guilt or selfishness that you associate with spending focus, time, and energy on yourself. You will have to rationalize through the idea that others are more entitled to your focus, time and energy than you yourself are.
While you may feel selfish at first, remind yourself that you are taking care of yourself in a way only you can. You deserve the space you need to better yourself and care for yourself.
Focus on Yourself, Like Yourself
Remember that focusing on yourself is all about getting in touch with your thoughts and feelings, so listen to them throughout anything you try to do! Don’t do something that doesn’t feel quite right just because someone else said it helped them. That’s focusing on them and not you.
You will try new things and approach things differently. In the process, you will learn what works for you with a bit of trial-and-error. Throughout your efforts to focus on yourself, the ultimate guide is to pay attention to how you feel. There is no right or wrong way to focus on yourself!
So, please, go ahead and follow any advice that you find especially inspiring or motivating. But don’t feel afraid to make it your own.
Pay Attention to Your Self-Talk
The way we ‘talk’ to ourselves, which often just happens in our head, can be such an old habit that we hardly realize it.
Start paying attention to how you talk to yourself on a daily basis. What are you thinking when you look in the mirror? How do you respond when you make a mistake or face minor setbacks? How do you take compliments or respond to your successes?
Identify how you are treating yourself and ask yourself, “Would I talk to a close friend like this?” Your self-talk shapes your self-image and relationship with yourself. Modify your self-talk to encourage compassion and positivity. It may be hard to change old habits, but be patient and consistent.
Try New Things
There is no better way to learn about yourself than by trying new things. You may be surprised by what you like and what things you never knew you were good at.
If you have found yourself too often wrapped up in the opinions of others, it can be refreshing to try something new all on your own. Do something new by yourself, just to see how you feel about it. Make sure that there is no one to look back to for reassurance or advice. Focus on your feelings and form your own opinion.
You may find it challenging, but it will be rewarding to learn about yourself and get in touch with what you think without the influence of anyone else!
Set Up Boundaries
I know you’re trying to focus on yourself and what I’m about to tell you may seem strange. But an important part of you is who you are as a friend, as a significant other, or as any other role you hold to others. And the most important thing here is for you to know how much you want to give to these relationships in your life.
It is great that you are taking the time now to focus on yourself. But you want any positive changes you make to be sustainable. So, ask yourself about how much you give to others and if you are leaving enough for yourself.
If you feel drained by the amount of time or energy you are giving away, think about how you can reclaim what you need for yourself. You will need to set up boundaries that safeguard your emotional wellbeing and all the progress you make by focusing on yourself. This may be learning to occasionally say “no” when you are already busy, or regularly scheduling time to devote to your self-care and sticking to it.
Focus on Your Physical Health, Too
When you do not feel your best mentally, it can be easy to slack on the physical aspects of self-care, too. The effects of physical health on mental wellbeing are significant. But often people fail to realize the connection. Rather than dismissing this area of yourself, focus on it as well, and use it to your advantage.
Think of healthy habits as an important part of self-care. Caring for your body is like telling yourself
“I respect myself and deserve to be taken care of.”
What are you currently communicating to yourself through your habits?
A few areas of physical health to focus on are:
- Nutrition – Eat foods that make you happy and fuel your body.
- Move your body – You do not have to change your schedule around for a high-intensity workout every day (go for it if that’s what you like though). But the benefits of giving your body some stretching or extra walking regularly will surely be noticed!
- Sleep – Make sleep hygiene a habit! Set aside the time for a routine that has you ready for restful sleep each night.
How Can I Focus on Myself for a Year?
When focusing on yourself the more time you commit, the more positive, long-term change you can expect.
Taking a full year to focus on yourself means going through the many changes, ups, and downs of the year mindfully. You will become more attuned to the many emotional states and get to know yourself much better in a year. There will certainly be plenty to focus on, though some days more than others.
Even during periods when you feel content and life is less eventful, pursue your goal to focus on yourself. At the end of the year, you will be glad you did.
If you are feeling in need of making significant, sustained progress with yourself there are some approaches you can implement into your lifestyle over the course of the next year
1. Make Check-Ins With Yourself a Regular Thing
Starting now, make it a regularly scheduled event to check in with yourself periodically. Stop and take the time to think about where you are in your life, in the pursuit of your goals, and emotionally. The habit will increase your ability to be self-aware of emotions and will help you make the connections between your mood and what is affecting it.
This can be informal, just a few brief minutes of thinking, but consider having a routine set of questions you ask yourself. By doing so, you will be better able to compare where you are now to your last check-in, and down the line where you are at the end of the year to where you were at the start.
- Daily Check-Ins. Every morning, assess how you feel starting the day and what you hope to accomplish. Or you may prefer to do this every night when you can reflect on how the day went and how you hope to approach tomorrow.
- Weekly Check-Ins. Allow yourself to reflect on how you handled any problems that arose, reacted to unexpected changes, and assess your mood during the week. You may find yourself noticing patterns in mood stability and what underlies it.
- Check-Ins After Milestones. Perhaps if you are going through a big transition or especially busy time, events in your life will warrant when you need self-check-ins. In this case, they can be used to reflect on how you handled the event, felt leading up to and after the event, and how you will approach the next event of the sort.
If you want to focus on yourself, journaling is the best way to make you face your thoughts in a vivid and concrete manner. As you organize what you are thinking into writing you will find yourself becoming more aware of how you think and what you are thinking about the most.
You may find it hard to organize your thoughts into writing, but the challenge will force you to slow down and work through those thoughts as you may never have before.
Journaling is great to commit to for a year because it can be used to track how you’ve changed your relationship with yourself and overall, as a person. You may be surprised to look back at old entries. You’ll probably find that you’ve changed perspective on certain situations or notice areas you wish you had given less of your emotional energy to.
Journaling can be very powerful when trying to focus on yourself and be a beautiful testimony of how far you have come!
Therapy is often thought of as only for people with a serious problem. But in fact, anyone can benefit from therapy. If you feel you need a new, objective perspective on your thoughts and behavior, then therapy may be a great option. If you are overwhelmed or confused by your thoughts and feelings, a therapist can offer guidance and help you confront them.
By deciding to visit a therapist for a year you will surely get time focusing on yourself and be challenged to confront any of the problems you come across. Throughout therapy, you will be able to reflect back, with your therapist or alone, on the changes and progress in how you see and approach your life.
Therapy offers many benefits but requires the most commitment and accountability.
Focusing on Yourself
By following a few guidelines and giving yourself grace, you will gain a deeper understanding of what you want, need, and desire to do in this life. By focusing on yourself for some time, you will be able to recover the energy to focus on others that much better when the time has come.