“Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. ” – Stephen Kendrick
Our idea of what is wrong or right is born out of two mainstream sources. The first source is religious, moral, and philosophical sources.
The second source comes from biological and social sciences, such as economics, which supposes that human beings, whenever they can, will always be on the lookout for what is in their best interests.
According to humanists, our source of morality comes from our biological and cultural evolution. John Locke, in his work The Two Treatises holds that human nature is selfish and evil. Therefore, humans are bound to act in sinful ways.
Given the above, traits such as selfishness are natural in human beings and have been prevalent for thousands of years. So, it can be presumed that these traits are still strong in us until now. Everyone is capable of being a selfish person, but not everyone is egotistic and exploitative.
Is Unconditional love even a reality?
Unconditional love is loving selflessly without any strings attached. It is the foundation of a great relationship. While human beings are naturally selfish, knowing that selfishness will always exist in our life enables us to be more gracious towards others and love them unconditionally.
○ Why are people selfish?
In the 1600s, Thomas Hobbes proposed that human beings are naturally selfish. It is human nature to put one’s needs first without having regard for the needs and feelings of others. People are selfish because they gain out of being selfish.
Selfish people are self-absorbed with their own problems because they think that doing more for others can impede their growth. Thinking about others means having to share finite resources, such as time and money. So, the more you give, the less you have for yourself. So, thinking about others is costly, while thinking about yourself is beneficial.
○ Selfishness vs self-interest
Selfishness and self-interest might subtly appear to have the same meaning, but the truth is that they are different. A selfish person is someone who cares a lot about themselves and puts their needs first. They are always looking out for their advantage and profit without regard for other people.
On the other hand, self-interest refers to someone who is self-centered and preoccupied with themselves and their affairs. Self-interest can eventually lead to selfishness, as you are likely to want to use other people as a means to get what you want.
Therefore, we can say that selfishness is self-interest carried to excess. It is not in our self-interest to be a selfish person. Self-interest can be a good thing, as it keeps you grounded and gives you the foundation to be able to give more to others.
○ Am I selfish person and is it wrong?
Everything has a spectrum, so the question of whether being self serving is wrong or right might not necessarily be a black and white issue.
Being self absorbed is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes being self centered is the right thing to do. A little bit of self care can be good for your well-being, as it allows you to take care of your physical and emotional needs. Not taking care of someone else’s needs allows you to prioritize your own needs.
However, do not focus entirely on give, give, give, as you can end up getting overwhelmed or feeling fatigued.
How can you change? 9 major ways to leave selfishness behind
Just because you are a self centered person does not mean that you have to live that way for the rest of your life. You can learn how to be selfless and practice altruism in your life. This will require a deliberate and conscious approach to change yourself and see others as being better than yourself.
1. Accept that you are selfish
Selfishness can be sneaky, as we are naturally selfish by nature and not even be aware of it. But to reject is egomania, we must first recognize it in our life and accept that we are selfish and then say ‘no’ to it.
Self regard comes in many forms that is why you need to think about ways that you are self-absorbed. When asking yourself, “Am I selfish person?” it is important to realize selfish tendencies, you can then practice changing them for the better to have healthy relationships.
Pay attention to what your true motive is when planning to do something. Ask yourself whether it is to gain something or to truly help someone.
2. Develop Empathy
“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one…just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
Selfish people are self absorbed and do not care about other people’s feelings. They have zero thought for what other people think and feel, which can lead them to dismiss other people’s thoughts, ideas, and opinions. This can be problematic in the end.
To develop empathy:
- Start small.
- Imagine yourself being in the same position that the other person is.
- Think about how you would feel or react if you had the same problem or you were in a similar situation that they are in.
Consciously try to cultivate compassion in your life and try to care for others just as much as you care for your own interests.
3. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes
If you sincerely want to stop being self-absorbed, then you need to start walking in other people’s shoes and see things from their point of view. Start caring about the needs and wants of the other person. Appreciate the fact that someone deserves a quality life just like you.
By walking in someone else’s shoes, you will be less judgmental and be more willing to understand other people’s experiences and thought processes. Put effort into thinking about how a person might be feeling in any given situation.
4. Release the need to be always in control
The need to control your environment and the people around you all the time can come across as being selfish. Even if the need to be in control comes from a good place, it can make it hard for you to connect with others.
That is why you need to start letting go of your need to micromanage and control every person, detail, and outcome before you completely damage your relationships.
Always take a step back and analyze your life. Review things you can control and things you can’t control, then come up with a list of what you can honestly handle in a day. Start by gradually detaching yourself from your many obligations by delegating to others.
5. Give more than what is expected of you
Going the extra mile is a great way to practice selflessness regularly. Always be willing and ready to do what is more than expected of you. Instead of just meeting expectations, consider going far and beyond what others think is possible.
Going the extra mile helps you to add value to others and your community. It’s not enough to do just enough to get by. If you have an abundance mindset, you will be willing to do what is more than expected, as you know that your supply will not run out.
Someone who is doing the bare minimum is motivated by self-centeredness, plus they have a scarcity mindset.
6. Don’t go looking for approval
Someone who wants approval from others will do anything for love and acceptance. Seeking approval leaves you consumed with worry about what other people are thinking about you.
Once you realize that you constantly want other people’s approval, take a step back and ask yourself why you constantly need other people’s approval. Once you are free from the need for other people’s approval, then you will be free from stress.
This will allow you to make decisions based on what is right for you, you will be free to create the kind of life that you want.
7. Be aware of where you spend your time, money, and energy
Egotism is not just about behavior, but it can also be about how we manage our time, energy, and money. Being there for someone is not just about telling them nice things from time to time. It is about giving them your time, money, and physical help and creating space for them in your life.
Learn how to give your time, money, and energy to someone else. Commit yourself to helping another person, while having a mind of love and not gain.
Give freely and joyfully from your heart. Altruistic behaviors include donating money to worthy causes, volunteering, or helping people on a day-to-day basis.
8. Express gratitude
Practicing gratitude is one of the ways to reduce egomania. Simply listing down things that you are grateful for regularly will help to rewire your brain to feel more fulfilled, by realizing that your basic needs have been met.
This reduces your level of desire, as you will spend less time focusing on things you don’t have or things you wish you had. Consequently, your mind will shift to helping others, as you will be more willing to give by realizing how abundantly you have been blessed in your life.
To stop being selfish, you need to feel that you already have enough in your life and anything that comes in addition to that is a bonus.
9. Spend time doing something meaningful with your life
Everyone in this world is in search of happiness in their lives. While there are many ways to achieve that, the one that they choose to follow depends on them. It is necessary to take care of our mental health and to protect our peace and happiness, we should take time out to do the things we like.
Life is precious, don’t waste it on unimportant things. Your time is your most valuable asset. You can invest it in learning, in working or in doing things that you enjoy.
Unselfishness has to be learned
“In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.” – David Mitchell
All true religions emphasize submission to the will of God by human beings. Self-absorption is elevating your will over the will of God. A selfish person is his own god. In addition, all true religions teach that we must love God and we must love our fellow human beings. But egotism teaches us to love ourselves more and to put our needs above the needs of others.
Self-regard is a survival behavior that comes in cycles and eventually builds up to patterns in our lives that greatly undermine our happiness and fulfillment. Therefore, being selfish is no way to live.
We must be willing to step out of the self-centered nature that keeps us isolated from others and opportunities and form new patterns and positive habits that will help us build healthy relationships and lives.
When asking yourself, “Am I selfish?” It is important to find a balance between caring for ourselves and caring for others. No matter how selfish you are, you can change.
We have to learn how to be kind, considerate, empathetic, and generous. Of course, this is not something easy, and it might come more easily to some people than to other people. But we must learn to think about other people and their needs and feelings.
Over time, your self-centered brain will learn that there is more to be gained by being selfless and it will eventually let go of the idea of always being number one and put itself first.