I’ve had many people say to me to “focus on myself” the last few years. I’ve also heard this in support groups. My question, is, though, what does it really mean to focus on yourself?
For years I lived in a bubble of happiness. Everything came easily in my life, and I seemed to conquer challenges easily. For the most part, I achieved what I set out to achieve, and everyone liked me. But there was a problem with my bubble.
My problem was that I was so focused on myself (and not in a selfish way, but in the recommended sense) that I didn’t notice how much suffering there was in this world. I also didn’t always notice my own suffering. A hardship would come, I would struggle for a couple of months, and then I would pick myself up and “move on”.
And the truth was that I focused on myself in the recommended way. I tried my best to address all of the health issues that I had, practiced self-care, and worked on my sobriety. But for some reason, I just wasn’t in touch with myself and the world.
Eventually, the bubble broke, and I was left facing the world and my life in a way that I had never experienced before. Emotions burst out from every part of me, and I was left dealing with a mix of emotions, thoughts, and perceptions that were brand new to me. It has taken me years to adjust to really perceiving and experiencing the world in this way.
I wonder why this phrase doesn’t resonate with me and why it even causes me suspicion. I can see how it is meant to work for someone who is in an abusive relationship where they were constantly trying to change the other person, however, if one were to then just focus on themselves in this situation, how could he or she ever determine what to do about the situation? I can see, too, how this term would apply to an abusive person, which is that it would encourage them not to blame, shame, and abuse others, and instead improve themselves. But for the rest of us, how useful is this terminology really? Does it help us, or does it encourage us to ignore and enable abusive people in our lives? And could it keep us from really working through difficult things in our lives by denying what other people have done to us or just taking too much focus off of situations or life events that may be bothering us?
I’m not sure. What I do know is that these terms, when you think hard about it, seem a little simplistic. I have found that focusing on my whole life, including situations that I’m in and myself, has helped me to get out of some pretty bad situations that many people find challenging to escape. So my questions today for you are: how do you focus on yourself in a healthy way? Is there a good way and a bad way to do it? What does it really mean for you to focus on yourself?
Thanks. I hope that this post finds you well!