There’s nothing wrong with putting energy into relationships with loved ones or turning your attention toward finding a romantic partner or new friend. People need love, intimacy, and companionship, so you are focusing on yourself by pursuing those needs. But when was the last time you stopped to consider your needs, without also taking into account what someone else wanted for you?
Neglecting your own dreams and desires can still hold you back. A life lived solely in the pursuit of the happiness of others may not bring you much personal joy. Over time, you might begin feeling drained even a little lost.
Focusing on yourself isn’t selfish. It’s an act of self-love. But when you’ve been in the habit of focusing on others, it can be hard to shift gears. These tips can help.
Get Better Acquainted With Yourself
Building a strong self-relationship is a great way to return your focus to yourself.
Feeling uncertain about your identity can make it tough to get clarity on what you want from life. Without some familiarity with who you are as a person, you can’t do much to achieve your goals, live according to your values, or get your needs met.
Significant events — breakup, career change, childbirth, personal crisis —can prompt growth and cast a spotlight on ways you’ve already changed. This illumination may call into question things you thought you knew about yourself as new aspects of your identity emerge for the first time.
Make Sure You’re Seeking What You Really Want
Most people care about the opinions of their loved ones. Sure, you don’t automatically do everything your family or friends suggest, but you do carefully weigh their guidance when trying to make a decision.
It’s generally helpful to get insight from others, especially for big decisions. Still, it’s important to draw a distinction between finding value in this guidance and letting it sway you from your preferred course. The difference sometimes gets a little blurred, and you may not even realize at first that your dreams are actually someone else’s dreams.
Create A Self-Care Plan
In its most literal sense, focusing on yourself revolves around self-care practices that meet your needs.
Self-care allows you to turn your attention toward yourself in a fundamental way. Everyone has basic needs that play an important part in overall well-being, including sleep, nutrition, physical exercise, and relaxation.
If you neglect these needs, you’re probably not getting enough time to recharge from life’s various sources of stress. You might not notice much of an impact at first, but eventually, you might see some unwanted changes in your physical and mental health.
Caring for others is indeed a positive trait. Focusing on your loved ones and offering emotional support when they struggle shows your compassion and strengthens your relationships. Practicing kindness toward others can even help improve well-being by boosting feelings of happiness.
Just don’t forget to treat yourself with the same kindness and compassion you offer others.
Maybe you’re always ready when a friend needs kind words, a hug, or a distraction, but what about when you need those things? You might, like many others, hold yourself to stricter standards and fall into patterns of negative self-talk.
Spend Time Doing Things You Love
Everyone needs time to pursue their own hobbies, and it’s pretty rare two people will want to do exactly the same thing all the time. Even when you’re very close, spending some time on your own and with other loved ones can still improve the health of your relationship.
When life gets busy, hobbies might be the first things you drop from your routine as you navigate more immediate challenges. But this can backfire. It becomes harder to weather difficulties and bounce back from stress when you don’t have time to recharge.
Setting aside time for hobbies and relaxation on most days can go a long way toward helping you avoid burnout.
Avoid The Comparison Trap
Most people compare themselves to others on occasion. Perhaps you feel a little envious of a particular friend who always seems happy. “If only I had their brains (or partner, or style, or wealth, or anything else), I’d be happy, too,” you think.
But you don’t actually know how they find fulfillment in life. Even if their happiness does stem from the things they have, people are different, and there’s still no guarantee those same possessions will bring you the same joy.
Comparing yourself to someone else can motivate you to aim for similar goals, like a nice house, your dream car, or a loving partner. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as these new ideals don’t overshadow your existing values.
Comparisons can become problematic when they distract you from what really matters to you. You might end up working toward something you don’t necessarily want, simply because you think might resolve your dissatisfaction.
Instead of comparing yourself to others, look at the things you already have. Who (or what) brings you joy? What do you feel grateful for? What would you like more of? Less of? Where do you want to be in 10 years’ time?
The idea of focusing on yourself isn’t as self-centered as it sounds. In fact, it’s one of the best things you can do for your well-being.