Is Everyone Self-Centered?

I am surrounded by self-centered people.

Is it the way of the world now?

Is it the town I live in?  Is it the “norm” now?universe

If it’s normal then that’s a problem for me.

One friend who moved out-of-state calls me occasionally.  He spends the entire phone call talking about himself, what he’s doing, where he’s going, who he has met.  He does not ask how I am. He does not ask what is new in my life. I don’t offer because since he doesn’t ask I figure he doesn’t care or want to know.

He complains constantly about his brother.  He says his brother talks about himself all the time.  On and on his brother talks, about himself.  My friend is venting, he said after a two-hour phone call where he and/or his brother was the topic.

I once accused him of being self-centered and he got mad.  A few days later he told me that I was right, he was self-centered.  Uh…and that’s ok with you?  I wondered.

If someone accused me of being self-centered I’d be shocked, embarrassed, mortified!

Maybe its ok to be self-centered as long as you admit you are.

This friend came for a few days for Thanksgiving and he continued to talk about his brother.  Or he talked about what he had been doing over the past 6 weeks.

I listened because I was partly interested but also because I thought when he got done telling me about him I would talk about me; at the very least he would ask.  He didn’t.

He returned back to his new “home state” and his brother—the one who has been the topic of the one-sided conversation—sends me an IM on Facebook.

He went on and on and on about he’s building his dream house, he’s doing this and doing that and if his wife of 30 years doesn’t want to join him in the dream house (out-of-state) then that’s her problem.  He said, “I’ve worked and paid the bills for 30 years, this is for me, it is my turn.”  I responded that yes I can see you wanting to do that because it’s a L(surname) pattern.

Maybe you two take after your mother.   From what I can glean from the family history told to me by both brothers (age 58 and 63 respectively) mom was self-centered too.  Maybe they learned it from her.  In Junior High, we used to call such an extremely self-centered person: “Stuck on herself or himself!”

I taught my kids just the opposite.  At the very least I tried to give them the lesson it’s not about you, except on your birthday, it’s about someone else.  If you’re in a relationship and you try to fulfill their needs and they try to fulfill yours then everyone’s needs get met.  Or close to it.

I got dragged into a self-centered conversation with my first husband on Facebook today.  We’ve been divorced longer than I’ve been alive…well a long time anyway.  22 years maybe.

He owed me an explanation you see.  Or more to the point he owed my children an explanation.   The question I wanted answered was…why did you do what you did?

He sent me a message on Facebook and said, “what’s your phone number again?”  The details that led up to this will be the subject of the post after this one.  I didn’t answer him.  Another message from him, “I lost your number, what is it?”.  Again I didn’t answer him.  Then my cellphone rang and it was him.  Hey, I thought you lost my number!  I didn’t answer.

If he wants to talk to me he can do it via written word, if at all.  I am not obligated to him in any way.

On FB he writes a message, “I just tried to call you.”

Interesting, didn’t you ask me for my number?  Didn’t you say you lost it?  Typical confusion from him.

I should tell you, my readers, that he’s an alcoholic; he is slightly paranoid.  He is also the biological father of my two kids.

He has had no contact with me or them for over 17 years…again that will be covered in detail on the following post.fb

On FB he went on and on about him, him, him.  He didn’t ask about me.  He didn’t ask about Gabrielle.  He didn’t ask how the weather was where I am (we live in different states).  He didn’t ASK anything.

He wanted to TALK to me as he “prefers analog communication”.  Huh?  Whatever.  It’s this way or no way.  It costs me money for you to call me since you’re not in my network.  All day long he sent messages about him, him, him.

  • My former boss, it was always about him, him, him.  If I sneezed he’d react with, “I think I’m getting a cold.”  Uh…I sneezed, not you.  I got to hear how perfect his kids were, constantly.  Really?  Your perfect son is getting a failing grade in 5 out of 7 classes…gee.  Hey, you remember I have kids too right?  By the way though you didn’t ask they are on the honor roll… just saying.
  • My girlfriend Marti will text when it’s a blue moon up above and she will go on and on and on about her and her and her.  End the text with luv u xoxoxo.  That reads to me: blah, blah, me, me, me, blah, blah, blah.
  • My other girlfriend K talks about her latest exploits in the dating arena.  Hey, I’m sitting here in this house, as a single person…or a widow…depending on who is asking and…oh wait it’s not about me.

There are others but all of them annoy me and I won’t bore you with the details.

Literally everyone I know these days is self-centered!  How does that happen?  How did I manufacture a circle of people all of the same nature?

Working in the law office, I understood that the clients might appear self-centered but that was ok with me, because it was THEIR life and they paid lots of money to be able to have it be “about them” for an hour or more.  It didn’t bother me at all that they didn’t bother learning my last name or knew anything about me.  Because it wasn’t about me and they shouldn’t care enough to ask.  Except I don’t know how a person interacts with another for sometimes months at a time and not be at least slightly curious about who I am.

Is it because I’m a good listener?  Maybe.  I’ve been told I am.

Is it because these people view me as “having it all put together nicely?”  Maybe.  Because I’ve been told that.

But they’d know that wasn’t true at all IF they got out of themselves for a minute and maybe sincerely asked me…is everything alright?  They don’t want to know though.  I am aware of this.  If they ask, then the attention swings from them to me.  We cannot have that can we?

I am absolutely fully aware that sometimes people go through really rough times—been there done that—and they deserve to have the entire attention on them.  I’m perfectly accepting and really ok with that.  However, what I have noticed is that attention isn’t shared.  If I am struggling with something, it’s on me, myself and I to figure it out.  They don’t want to be a sounding board.  They don’t want to LISTEN.  It’s not about them after all so it’s probably boring.

But I have in the back of my mind while I write this that I am self-centered, at least somewhat, here.  I write about me or what I’m dealing with or my memories or my hurt/pain.  Me, me, me here on WordPress.com.

In that sense I am no better than those I mentioned above and those I have left out.Selfish_Egocentric

Are we all self-centered then?

I know that I am simply not made that way.  I find other people far more interesting than I find myself.  I really like listening to people talk about their life, what they’ve been through, what they are going through.  I enjoy listening, or on WordPress, reading about their lives.  Not on Facebook though because I think that’s all just LOOK-AT-ME and how WONDERFUL-I-AM type of junk.  Not all, I agree, but many, if not most of the people on my FB page do that.  I find it irritating.  Life isn’t THAT good for anyone.

In the law office I cared about the clients.  I cared enough to want to help them.  I didn’t care that they didn’t care about me.  It was a constant exercise in humility for me when clients would bring exorbitant gifts for the attorney and toss me a little box of candy they bought at the last-minute; an after thought.  Come on, I shop in the same stores I see those $2.00 sample boxes at the cash registers too!  But hey, it’s the thought that counts, right?  Right!

Their actions didn’t stop me caring about them or their cases.  Their actions though didn’t get my boss to care about them or their case.  Curious isn’t it?  But remember Mr. Boss is self-centered.

Selfishness is a word that applies to most human beings some of the time, whereas, Narcissism is a kind of consistent selfishness that is more pronounced. The word Narcissism derives from a mythological figure named “Narcissus,” who was renowned for his beauty. Because Narcissus was cruel to a nymph named “Echo,” who desired his affection and attention, Jupiter punishes Narcissus to fall in love with a reflection in a pool, not realizing it was his own. There, he perishes, not being able to leave the beauty of his own reflection.

whats in it for me

I am wondering if there is a benefit to being self-centered and if so, how do I become that way?  Because maybe I should!  Is it the same as taking care of oneself because no one else will?  Maybe.  Is it the same as I MATTER even if you don’t think I do?  I’m going to prove that I matter even if you don’t think I do? Maybe.

What causes a person to be self-centered?

Here’s how two dictionaries define the word Selfish:

* Focus upon one’s own advantage to the exclusion of regard for others.
* Lacking consideration for  others; concerned with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

For most people the two words might be used interchangeably, but there IS a salient difference between Selfishness versus Narcissism. Consider this definition of Narcissism:

Excessive interest in one’s self and one’s physical appearance; extreme selfishness with a grandiose view of one’s talents and attractiveness, having a consistent craving for admiration.

And what causes me to have nothing BUT self-centered people in my life?

Am I enabling these people to be self-centered?  Narcisstic when they are around me?  Is it my fault?  Maybe, partly.  My tolerance of their behavior certainly allows them to continue.

Maybe its just a culture thing.  Maybe its just Americans that have been covered with the haze of self-absorption. I’ve lived in other countries other than America and those people, e.g., the Japanese are the opposite of narscisstic.  I think that behavior is frowned upon by their society and by fifth grade Japanese children have learned that it is unwise to gloat over their accomplishments or to express confidence in their own ability.

Ultimately, in the best relationships, you don’t keep track of good-deed-doing one for another; instead, you simply pour out all your compassion and affection, and it will naturally return back to you, when you have a spiritually and emotionally healthy relationship.

Is it based in self-esteem?  Low self esteem translates to:  I am not worthy to talk about myself.  Or I’m going to talk about myself until I convince I am worthy of attention.

Is it over inflated sense of ego?

Is it under developed sense of ego?

Is it a symptom of, hey I cared so much about this, that or him/her and it wasn’t reciprocated so now I don’t care about anyone BUT me?

Is it a symptom or is it a way of life that I just don’t want to accept?

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4 thoughts on “Is Everyone Self-Centered?

  1. If only we could I troduce my sister-in-law to your friend. She never stops talking about herself, either. And she has an extremely dull life!

    It really does seem like our society is making more and more of us self-centered. We are so wrapped up in who WE are and what WE are doing that we don’t bother to notice others. Sad really.

    I was just thinking about this issue. Last weekend I went back to my 40th high school reunion. Many people still live in my hometown or thereabouts. They talked about the same schools we attended, the beaches we all went to. None of them had ventured very far, even in their imaginations. What a waste.

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    • Indeed! The disconnect seems to rampant. I don’t think social networks like Facebook, or people on their stupid smart phones while in public….I’ve seen a family at a restaurant all on different devices and not talking to each…just reinforces the ME ME ME mentality. It really is a shame. Imagine if there was some sort of apocalypse and all cell phones, internet, TV, radio, etc., was suddenly wiped out? Oh goodness, does that mean we’d have to actually TALK to each other? Oh no! And help one another? Horrible! 😉

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  2. Human nature makes us all self centered, what makes a difference is whether or not to see that trait within our selves and how we handle it. You seem to be the one everyone goes to with their problems, like a shrink of sorts…and they treat you like one, rarely does someone ask how their shrink is doing, or about their lives. It seems the same treatment tis being applied to you. You should tell these people that you are not paid to be their psychiatrist! Surround yourself with good people who can look past their own lives and see yours too!

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  3. I think we’re all self-centered to a certain extent. Sadly, I know I am. You have every right to be self-centered, because you are going through a really tough time right now. You’ve earned it.

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