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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings



When I first began practicing care in the capacity of mental, emotional, and behavioral health (collectively, “mental health), I didn’t think of advising clients that self-focus may result in altered relationships with others. Now, I invite people to consider this possibility.


Allow me to explain what I mean. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines self-focus as “the direction of conscious attention on oneself and one’s thoughts, needs, desires, and emotions” and differentiates this term from “trait self-focus,” which it describes as “a chronic habit or pattern of self-consciousness.”


Regarding the latter, the APA clarifies that an “excess of trait self-focus has been associated with the development of, or with heightened vulnerability to, several mental health disorders, such as alcohol use, depression, and anxiety disorders.” Thus, an excess of trait self-focus may result in neurosis.


On the contrary, self-focus doesn’t entail hyper-fixation on self-improvement to a pathological degree. Without promotion of neurotic tendencies, I advocate self-focus through the practice of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).


Sometimes, clients ask whether or not I consider self-focus to be the same quality as selfish—a lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure. I do not. Addressing this matter in a blogpost entitled Selflessly Disturbed, I inquired of readers:


Is it selfish to advocate unconditional acceptance, reasoning that unfortunate events are what they are and to maintain that we don’t have to punish ourselves with unhelpful beliefs about these occurrences? Is it perhaps selfish to forego blaming others for matters with which we disagree?


My approach to self-focus merely advocates acknowledging the limits of one’s own control and influence, and then devoting attention and behavior toward an end to satisfy one’s interests and goals. The means to this end requires consideration of others rather than disregard for people.


Expanding upon this distinction, I stated in a blog entry entitled Enlightened Self-Interest:


Although I don’t consider myself particularly altruistic—showing concern for the well-being of others above oneself—I admit that I’m not completely unselfish. After all, if there’s anyone I’d prefer to be stuck on a deserted island with, I wouldn’t exactly opt to forego choosing no one out of respect to the other individual’s interests.


Perhaps the person in mind wouldn’t want to share the remainder of life with me and my choice in this individual would be selfish. Alas, I’m a fallible human being.


Therefore, while I may retain the quality of selfishness I don’t promote egotistical endeavors when practicing mental health care. Otherwise, I may as well promote narcissism – which I do not.


The concept of self-focus I promote merely relates to “attention on oneself and one’s thoughts, needs, desires, and emotions” so that a person may increase one’s level of functioning and quality of life – generally in unison to interaction with others. Nevertheless, I advise clients that others may not understand this process.


From outsiders’ perspective, alteration of the person they’ve come to know and love may be interpreted as a threat to their bond with the individual. To illustrate this concept, I draw upon a hip hop song.


Lyricist Guilty Simpson teamed up with producer Dixon Hill on the album Actus Reus. It featured a track called “So True,” which sampled a variation of lyrics from The Vanguard’s song “Somebody Please”:


Somebody, please

Give me just a minute

To explain, my misery

The girl that I love

She walked out on me, yeah she did

And now I stand here, with just a memory


In “So True,” Simpson states:


She never lied when she told me I’d die alone

I had a moment to myself, so I rolled one

I had to focus on myself ‘til the dough comes

Sometimes you need just due

Never let findin’ someone else lose you


Often, I’ve heard people describe that it’s as though they’ve lost themselves when being relationships of various sorts (i.e., romantic, friendship, etc.). Simpson expresses similar sentiment by advising never to lose oneself in someone else.


The lyricist appears to also advocate self-focus so that he could reinvent himself from the person he’d become when lost in a relationship. When clients with whom I work make similar decisions, it isn’t uncommon for their friends, family members, and loved ones to protest.


After all, these people experience clients in a particular setting and when the process of change through mental health care unfolds, it’s as though the shadow of the clients left behind is interpreted as loss. In a metaphorical sense, it’s as though the old self dies when giving way to one’s new self.


I find it interesting that in many other aspect of existence, new life is celebrated. However, when one casts off behavior that wasn’t producing desired effects for the individual and transitions into a more productive standard of living, this metamorphosis is then denounced by others.


Although I didn’t caution clients to contemplate this possibility when I first began practicing mental health care, I now invite people to consider this likelihood. To others, self-focus may be perceived as a selfish threat to long held bonds.


In the case of The Vanguards’ “Somebody Please,” when an intimate partner eventually left the relationship, the lead vocalist expressed “misery” associated with his beliefs about her decision to apply self-focus. This is a pragmatic possibility when determining that metamorphic change is necessary.


Irrespective of what side of a relationship you occupy in this regard, I help people transition to different stages of life. If you would like help with turning from the past toward the future, I may be able to help.


If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.


As the world’s foremost old school hip hop REBT psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.


At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!



Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW




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Hollings, D. (2022, May 17). Circle of concern. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, January 8). Enlightened self-interest. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

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Hollings, D. (2024, January 2). Interests and goals. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, March 24). Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT). Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2024, January 23). Selflessly disturbed. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Hollings, D. (2022, July 11). Unconditional acceptance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from

Knights Oldies. (2007, October 23). The Vanguards - Somebody Please [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

Long, K. (2018, February 1). The Vanguards’ “Somebody Please”: a Naptown soul gold standard. Nuvo. Retrieved from

Mr X. (2024, April 19). Back to back [Image]. Playground. Retrieved from

Soulspazm. (2019, November 1). Dixon Hill & Guilty Simpson - So True [Video]. YouTube. Retrieved from

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