Do you think you’re selfish, or has someone called you that, with good reason? Well, it can stop now. You can feel better about yourself, and have better relationships with your friends, family, and partner. Let’s talk about how to not be selfish.
What Exactly is Selfishness?
Selfishness can be defined as excessively putting one’s own interests and needs above those of others. While it is natural for you to prioritize your own well-being, excessive selfishness can lead to negative consequences for both yourself and others.
Examples of Excessive Selfishness
Let’s look at some examples:
- Not caring about anybody but yourself.
- Failing to tip properly at restaurants if you live in a country with tipping.
- Not having an even distribution of work with your partner. Each should contribute roughly equally to the relationship and household, even if the contributions are different. (You don’t have to split each task 50/50).
- Never asking friends or family how they feel or how their day went.
- Always insisting on doing what you want.
- Asking for favors but rarely or never doing favors for others.
- Expecting others to be your personal servant.
Examples of Healthy Selfishness
Don’t get me wrong – we do need to be a bit selfish, lest others just roll over us. Here are some examples of things that are OK and healthy:
- Making your needs a priority (though not the ONLY priority).
- Choosing the restaurant, music, or TV show you want (some of the time).
- Playing video games or pursuing another hobby in your free time.
- Saying “no” to excessive demands or requests.
- Refusing to lend friends and family money, especially if you know they won’t pay you back.
- Refusing to work for free or for less than you’re worth.
This is How to Not Be Selfish
Let’s now look at ways to avoid being excessively selfish.
One of the main reasons people act selfishly is because they lack the ability to understand and relate to the feelings and experiences of others. By actively trying to put yourself in other people’s shoes, you can gain a deeper understanding of their perspective and be more considerate of their needs.
All you really have to do is imagine that you were them. If this is too hard, ask them how they feel.
Communicate openly and honestly
Selfishness often arises from a lack of communication and understanding. By being open and honest with others about your thoughts and feelings, you can work through conflicts and find common ground.
I know that this is easier said than done. Still, give it a shot. Be nice, but be straight and real with the truth. Half-truths and sugarcoats will only bring you more trouble in the long run.
Take responsibility for your actions
Selfishness can also stem from a lack of accountability. When you take responsibility for your actions and apologize when necessary, you show others that you care about how your actions affect them.
If you were a selfish a-hole, apologize and be better the next time. We all make mistakes very often and we’re all wrong at some point. I make mistakes every single day. There’s nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is refusing to recognize it and make an effort to change for the better.
One of the best ways to counteract selfishness is to practice generosity. Whether it’s giving your time, money, or resources, being generous helps you focus on the needs of others and makes you feel good, too.
You don’t have to make huge sacrifices; small acts of kindness and generosity are enough. Another way to look at it is to pay it forward.
Be mindful of your thoughts and actions
Selfishness often comes from unconscious habits and patterns of thinking. By being mindful of your thoughts and actions, you can become more aware of when you are acting selfishly and make a conscious effort to change your behavior.
Take a deep thought about your patterns of behavior, or ask someone else about them. I’m sure that you can improve them so that you’re better to others, with little or no cost to yourself.
Practice gratitude and appreciation
Selfishness can also come from a sense of entitlement. By practicing gratitude and appreciation, you can shift your focus away from what you lack to what you have, and be more content with what you have.
Think about all of the good things and people in your life, and just take a moment each day to be thankful for them.
Volunteer or help others
Helping others is one of the most effective ways to combat selfishness. By volunteering your time or resources to help those in need, you can gain a sense of purpose and fulfillment, and make a positive impact on the lives of others.
It doesn’t have to be formal volunteering (though that’s great, of course). It can start with as little as holding the door open or letting someone pass in traffic. Making an effort to be extra nice and courteous is a great way to start.
Make a habit of courtesy
Like I was saying, it really helps to make a habit of being nice and courteous. Just being extra polite and saying “please” and “thank you” will start to condition you to be a better, less selfish person in all aspects of your life.
Seek help if needed
If you find yourself struggling to overcome selfishness, it may be helpful to seek out the help of a therapist or counselor. They can take an informed and professional look at your situation, and recommend effective ways to improve.
Summing Up How to Not be Selfish
Remember, being selfish is a natural human tendency and it is not necessary to be selfless all the time (in fact, that would probably do more harm than good). It’s important to find a balance between taking care of yourself and being considerate of others. By following these tips, you can work towards being less selfish and improve your relationships with the important people in your life, and the world at large.
Video on How to Not Be Selfish
Let’s wrap it up by looking at a YouTube video: