The "Other" Focus | INFJ Forum

The "Other" Focus


C'est la vie
Retired Staff
May 11, 2008
Over the course of my life I've read literally dozens upon dozens of self help books, psychological journals, sociological journals, social work journals, philosophical texts, etc. looking for a key concept to human growth and personal development.

I found only one such concept that has been observed in just about every discipline. That concept is "other focus". It's the simple premise that individuals who choose to be motivated by the thoughts, feelings, needs, and goals of others tend to be the healthiest and happiest people.

This does make sense to a certain degree. This is the basis for friendships, for relationships, for community, and for just about any successful social interaction between people. People look to others to validate them and help them accomplish what the want in life. Few people can accomplish their goals alone. But it still seems strange to me that this seems so hardwired in us.

We all have egos and we are all creatures of self interest. From a rational standpoint, we should be able to provide everything we need for ourselves, and yet some very fundamental part of us is so highly dependent on others that our physical health, emotional stability, and intellectual development all seem to begin to fail the moment we begin to look only to our own thoughts, feelings, needs, and goals.

I understand that humans are social animals and that this is how we evolved but it perplexes me. I can't say I'm particularly fond of people, and yet I need to care about people in order to remain healthy and sane. I want to obsess about my own problems and my own issues, but the ones that get me out of bed in the morning are the problems and issues that other people face.

Is this the final step in self actualization? Is this the point where a person steps outside their ego? Why is this such a difficult thing to accept despite how self evident is seems?
I certainly defer to your studies into all these matters which are far greater than mine....but I think you are right, it is about stepping outside one's own ego. In a sense, through love/service of others we expand ourselves beyond our normal limits. One might even say we move past a false self-sense to a more true self-sense. I might even propose that the cosmos/natural world is all about connection....and moving in this direction of connection is what moves us to greater contact to our true selves.

Just a theory based on what I have observed.
It's difficult to accept because we know that there are some people who will take full advantage of the "other" focus, trying to get us to live primarily for their interests. When the focus is not reciprocated, it might result in less happiness than if it were turned inward.