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20 Steps to Better Self-Esteem--page 12
by Monica A. Frank, Ph.D.

Step 12. Focus on Other People.

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Often, people with low self-esteem are focused on themselves. They are worried about what others might think of them. They are evaluating themselves based upon others' reactions to them. They are apologizing for themselves when they haven't done anything wrong. They may even be critical of others for not showing interest or concern about them. All of these concerns, however, mean that they are inside of their head and focused on themselves. And usually, most of this self-focus is negative.

Focus on other people (list everything you notice in this picture)

Have you ever paid attention to a person who is good at social interaction? (If not, that would be a great way to start getting outside of your own head.) I don't mean a person who is just talkative because that is not always good social interaction. I am referring to a person who is good at engaging others. Such people are focused on the other person. They ask questions. They listen. They show interest. When they do talk about themselves it is in a way to further the conversation. To engage other people in such a way you need to mindfully focus on them. To mindfully focus means that you are fully paying attention to them. The focus is not on what they might be thinking of you or how you are going to respond. Instead, when you focus completely upon another person, the response becomes natural. Because when you are fully interested in another person without the worries, the self-evaluation, the self-criticism, then the questions and reactions to their comments will present more easily and naturally to you.

Getting outside of your own head usually leads to more positive interactions with others. People are more likely to have a positive reaction to you when you make them feel good about themselves. When others react positively towards you it helps improve your self-esteem because you can incorporate their reactions into your self-concept.

How do you do this? Notice others. Look for positives when you notice them. Give compliments. Ask about their family. Ask about their interests. When they share information, ask follow-up questions. People love to talk about themselves. When you show interest in them, they will see you as brilliant and entertaining.

Exercise: I found this photo that has a lot of different things going on. An interesting exercise to get you started on focusing on others is to examine the photo, list everything you notice about the people in the photo, and write questions that come to mind about those people.

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