We’re all selfish to a certain degree, but problems only start to arise when it reaches a high level of self-centeredness that teeters on the edge of narcissism. If you have a family member, romantic partner, or coworker that makes you feel invisible because they rarely pay attention to your needs, know that you’re not alone. Psych2Go shares with you 6 effective ways to deal with selfish people:
1. Try to understand what is triggering their selfish behavior.
Psychotherapist F. Diane Barth emphasizes the idea that understanding does not mean letting someone off the hook. But learning about what is motivating someone to be selfish and detecting their patterns can help you be less dismissive of their behavior. As humans, it is an instinct to be selfish. Children, for instance, are naturally selfish because learning to understand the feelings and needs of others is something taught to them as they get older. Elderly people and those with illnesses are also selfish because it’s a way of survival. When you learn about what is motivating someone else’s selfishness, then you can understand why it is sometimes essential.
2. Try not to take their selfish actions personally. Instead, stay true to yourself.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in someone else’s accusations. If someone is making you feel bad for not paying enough attention to them, know that you don’t have to stoop to their level, nor do you have to take their words or actions personally. It’s not your job to continually serve someone at their own time and convenience. Being around a self-centered person can be overwhelming and exhausting that you may experience bursts of anger, frustration, or sadness. Know that you are still in control and that you don’t have to be reactive towards their selfishness. Instead, focus on alleviating the pressure you feel through your favorite hobbies or fun events.
3. Become familiar with the misconceptions about selfishness.
There are many misconceptions about selfishness. For instance, according to Barth, it is common in our culture to believe that having kids is a selfless act, and that not having kids is selfish. But people can have kids for selfish reasons, such as a way to be loved, bond more closely with a spouse, or to fulfill a parent’s wish. This is why it’s crucial to examine circumstances carefully and re-evaluate what is considered selfish or selfless. People can be selfish without knowing it, which makes it all the more important to help them see their actions in a wider perspective.
4. Bring up topics you are interested in during conversations.
If you feel uncomfortable always listening to someone else talk about themselves, you can interject in a non-combative way. Whether you enjoy art, music, or philosophy, you can change the subject midway through a conversation with a simple question, such as, “Hey, have you heard of *insert desired topic*?” or a statement like, “Last night, I came across *insert desired topic.*” Initially, it may seem abrupt and even random, but this gives the person a hint that the two of you have been spending too much time on their stories. If you find that the individual keeps trying to go back to their own topic, you can politely remind them that you’ve already heard about it. This will prevent you from giving into their attention-seeking ways.
5. Limit the amount of time you spend together and hang out with supportive people.
Space always helps. When you limit the amount of time you spend together with a selfish person, you can obtain more freedom to take care of your own happiness and be who you are instead of getting caught up in meeting their needs. This is more approachable than shutting them out altogether, especially if the selfish individual is a family member or coworker that you cannot easily avoid. When you set healthy boundaries, you’re reminding them that the world does not revolve around them. It also gives you the opportunity to spend more time with supportive friends and family members who believe in helping you grow and evolve. In turn, this will prevent you from being stuck with fulfilling someone else’s responsibilities.
6. Learn the difference between healthy selfishness and toxic selfishness.
When you constantly deal with a selfish person, you often experience guilt for putting yourself first. Remember, you’re not doing anything wrong; taking care of yourself is a right that you have. But toxic selfish people can manipulate you into thinking otherwise. This is why it’s essential to practice self-love. We all need a healthy degree of selfishness to sustain our mental health and wellbeing. When you recognize toxic patterns of selfishness, you can break out of them by choosing not to give into them. Treat yourself every once in a while and fulfill your own desires and needs. You’re important, too.
Are you having a hard time dealing with someone selfish in your life? Psych2Go would love to hear your thoughts! Please be sure to leave a comment down below!
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Barth, F. D. (2014, March 29). 4 Ways to Deal With Selfish People in Your Life. Psychology Today. Retrieved February 7, 2018.
William, D. K. (2018). 10 Great Ways to Deal with Selfish People. Lifehack. Retrieved February 7, 2018.