How to Focus on Yourself if Life Feels Messy Rn
Lemme guess: You just had a huge fight with your friend group. Or maybe you broke things off with your BF. Or you’re just feeling generally not great. All of the above? Regardless, you’ve decided you wanna ~focus on yourself~ and I can help you do just that.
But first, a quick disclaimer. If you don’t actually know what you’re looking to get out of focusing on yourself, this probably isn’t gonna go very well. Without reflecting on what you want before you get started (more on that in a min), these strategies might not help, explains licensed mental health counselor Rachel Gersten, cofounder of New York City–based Viva Wellness.
Another tip: Remember that small steps are key. “Sometimes when we set out to better ourselves, we tend to want to do everything at once,” explains licensed mental health counselor and popular TikTok therapist Micheline Maalouf. “Oftentimes, this can overwhelm and lead to giving up on ourselves.” In other words, don’t try to overhaul your entire life in a couple of days, k?
Now that we’ve got the basics down, it’s time to get to the good stuff (ya know, the actual advice). Here, 10 therapist-approved tips for focusing on yourself in a way that will actually lead to positive changes. Yay!
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.”
To Be A Happier Person, Should You Focus On Yourself Or Others?
Those who engaged in moral deeds reported greater happiness than those who did nothing. Thinking about morality led to higher levels of positive emotion, but doing something kind for oneself didn’t lead to more happiness.
People who engage in the practices described above report feeling inspired by watching other people perform acts of kindness or generosity. These positive feelings may lead them to take more active roles in helping others.
Moral deeds and thoughts lead to feeling more empathetic, ethical, and grateful. Doing virtuous deeds leads to feeling less angry, less isolated. Feeling more in control and having a greater purpose in life were associated with doing moral deeds. Treating oneself was linked to feeling less exhausted.
Moral acts, thoughts, and kindness toward ourselves are significant factors in determining whether or not we thrive. But, unfortunately, people tend to underestimate the importance of self-kindness and self-care.