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10 Signs You’re Actually Very Selfish Though You Haven’t Noticed It

10 Signs You’re Actually Very Selfish Though You Haven’t Noticed It

“If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.” – Chinese proverb.

If you search Google on selfishness, the majority of entries will tell you that you have to be selfish to look after yourself and to succeed in life. You are ensuring that you are contributing to society and not a burden. It is a sort of natural selfishness and is closely related to our survival. It must take priority over helping others. Pretty harmless, you might think…

Then you will find entries on what is termed ‘bad selfishness’ where people exploit others, commit criminal acts to gain money or power by means of fraud, dishonesty and violence. Very nasty, you might shudder…

I have given two rather extreme examples above, but have you thought about more subtle ways in which you may have been selfish unknowingly? Here are 10 examples of the way selfish people behave and without even realizing it.

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“Even six-year-olds who scream, ‘You’re selfish!’ have agendas.” – Rick Gaber

1. They are unaware of the imbalance in a relationship

Any healthy relationship has to have a near perfect balance. This goes for personal and work relationships. If people are all for taking and giving nothing back, then they are selfish and will be shocked when this is pointed out to them. In the workplace, that may be very difficult to broach when your colleague has been selfish in demanding help and giving nothing back. This could be never giving advice, support or performing actual hard work. This can have a terrible effect on staff morale.

2. They baptize their children with weird names

Whatever the reason, these parents are determined to go for something trendy or completely original. This is selfishness because they are not putting their children first: children who will be teased at school and suffer endless corrections of the pronunciation or spelling of the name, not to mention all the incorrect variations that will be floating around. It’s an example of selfish self-absorption and little thought is given to how the child will cope. There are mixed results from studies which might indicate whether the weird name is a handicap or not. A classic is the girl who was called Sue Yoo who become a lawyer!

3. They are nagged

“It’s good to be selfish. But not so self-centered that you never listen to other people.” – Hugh Hefner.

When nagging is a prominent feature in a relationship, it can only mean that the nagged partner is completely insensitive to the other partner’s needs. This can range from not tidying up to being forgetful. It also means that the guilty partner does not take into account their partner’s wishes. The partner who is doing the nagging may well be obsessed and this could be another aspect of selfishness as they are selfishly giving far too much attention to their obsessions and manias!

4. They do not bother to give negative feedback

Whether it is your partner, child or colleague, there is a tendency to gloss over negative feedback or not to give any at all. It may seem a charitable thing to do because you are not hurting the person’s feelings or destroying their confidence, however this is an act of selfishness because you are passing up an opportunity to help the person to improve and do better. Being nice in many cases is the short cut to popularity. In the long term, it could come back and haunt you if you have failed in your duty.

5. They are control freaks

People in management are sometimes control freaks. Their motto seems to be, “If you want to do it right, do it yourself.” Control freaks are usually perfectionists and they are convinced that they are the only capable people in a company or family. The strange thing is that they themselves believe they are benevolently keeping an eye out and are being genuinely helpful and concerned. The reality is that their behavior is selfish to the point of killing initiative, discouraging creativity or even delegating tasks.

6. They are manipulative

The other side of the coin of being a control freak. They are so fearful of losing their position of authority that they employ some nasty tactics. A classic example is where they will not consider a compromise. That means a loss of power. They use their manipulative skills to get the boss on their side. Then they will use tactics such as being perfectly charming while trying to find out information about colleagues and then subtly accuse others or discredit them. If you read Dr. Mary Casey’s book, How to Deal With Master Manipulators, you will discover many other examples of selfish acts.

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7. They are the only people on the planet

How many times have we fumed against people blocking doorways, smoking when it is forbidden, talking loudly on the phone or acting selfishly when driving? These acts of selfishness happen all the time and are obvious manifestations of people thinking they are the only people on the planet.

There are other more subtle examples that we may be unaware of. What about people who may be engrossed with their iPhone and block the aisle on the plane, shop or train? Others get impatient when they do not get an immediate answer to their email. These acts of selfishness make life more difficult for everyone else.

8. They never clean their dog’s mess

When I visited Scotland last year, there were prominent notices saying, “Your dog, your mess, your £40 fine.” The next time you see a person ‘forgetting’ to clean up, ask them to take their dog’s mess home. It is their property after all! Civic duty is still sadly lacking in many areas and selfishness is all around us.

9. They hate team work

Selfish people are unwilling to share, give or brainstorm. They want to work alone because they are in a competitive environment but this selfishness will work against them if they are not careful. An ex-colleague kept a lot of information to herself because she was secretive and selfish. She never got the promotion she so desired and we could all see why.

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I remember one of my first bosses who kept all his teacher training materials at home. Nobody else had access to them so we had to reinvent the wheel when running our own training sessions. I have never hated a boss so much! Giving and sharing are rare words in the selfish person’s vocabulary.

10. They rarely collaborate

It’s all about ego. They know what they want and they are always to the forefront to make sure they get it. When they see an obstacle they become defiant or refuse to collaborate. In addition, their refusal to give an inch is just a symptom of classic selfishness. After all, why should they bother to go out of their way to discover what people are feeling, their ideas, hopes and ambitions?

“I am thankful for all those difficult people in my life, they have shown me exactly who I do not want to be.” – Unknown.

Featured photo credit: Parking mayhem at Kota Kinabalu/ Jason Thien via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

What Does Self-Conscious Mean? (And How to Stop Being It)

Have you ever walked into a room and felt like your nerves simply couldn’t handle it? Your heart beats fast, you start to sweat, and you feel like all eyes are on you (even if they’re really not). This is just one of the many ways that being self-conscious can rear its ugly head.

You may not even realize you’re self-conscious, and you may be wondering, “What does self-conscious mean?” That’s a good place to start.

This article will define self-consciousness, show how practically everyone has faced it at one point or another, and give you tips to avoid it.

What Does Self-Conscious Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, self-conscious is defined as “conscious of one’s own acts or states as belonging to or originating in oneself.”[1]

Not so bad, right? There’s another definition, though — one that speaks more to what you’re going through: “feeling uncomfortably conscious of oneself as an object of the observation of others.” For those of us who regularly deal with extreme self-consciousness, that second definition sounds about right.

There are many different ways self-consciousness can spring up. You may feel self-conscious around people you know, like your family members or closest friends. You may feel self-conscious at work, even though you spend hours every week around your co-workers. Or you may feel self-conscious when out in public and surrounded by strangers. However, you probably don’t feel self-conscious when you’re home alone.

How to Stop Being Too Self-Conscious

When you’re in the throes of self-consciousness, it’s nearly impossible to remember how to stop feeling that way. That’s why it’s so important to prepare ahead of time, when you’re feeling ready to tackle the problem instead of succumbing to it.

Here are a variety of ways to feel better about yourself and stop thinking about how others see you.

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1. Ask Yourself, “So What?”

One way to banish negative, self-conscious thoughts is to do just that: banish them.

The next time you walk into a room and feel your face getting red, think to yourself, “So what?” How much does it really matter if people don’t like how you look or act? What’s the worst that could happen?

Most of the time, you’ll find that you don’t have a good answer to this question. Then, you can immediately start assigning such thoughts less importance. With self-awareness, you can acknowledge that your negative thoughts are present and realize that you don’t agree with them.[2] They’re just thoughts, after all.

2. Be Honest

A lie that self-consciousness might tell is that there’s one way to act or feel. Honestly, though, everyone else is just figuring life out as well. There isn’t a preferred way to show up to an event, gathering, or public place. What you can do is be honest with your feelings and thoughts.[3]

If you feel offended by something someone says, you don’t have to smile to be polite or laugh to fit in with the crowd. Instead, you can politely say why you disagree or excuse yourself and find a group of people who you relate to better. If you’re nervous, don’t overcompensate by trying to look relaxed and casual — it’ll be obvious you’re putting on a front. Instead, nothing is more endearing than saying, “I’m a little nervous!” to a room of people who probably feel the exact same way.

On the same note, if you don’t understand why someone wants you to do something, question it. You can do this at work, at home, or even with people you don’t know well. Nobody should force you to do something you don’t want to do.

Also, even if you’re willing to do what’s asked of you, there’s nothing wrong with asking for more clarification. People will realize that you’re not a person to be bossed around.

3. Understand Why You’re Struggling at Work

Being self-conscious at work can get in the way of your daily responsibilities, your relationships with co-workers, and even your career as a whole. If you’re facing some sort of conflict but you’re too nervous to speak up, you may be at the whim of what happens to you instead of taking some control.

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If you’re usually confident at work, you may be wondering where this new self-consciousness is coming from. It’s possible that you’re dealing with burnout.[4] Common signs are anxiety, fatigue and distraction, all of which can leave you feeling under-confident.

4. Succeed at Something

When you create success in your life, it’s easier to feel confident[5] and less self-conscious. If you feel self-conscious at work, finish the project that’s been looming over your head. If you feel self-conscious in the gym, complete an advanced workout class.

Exposing yourself to what you’re scared of and then succeeding at it in some way (even just by finishing it) can do wonders for your self-esteem. The more confidence you build, the more likely you are to have more success in the future, which will create a cycle of confidence-building.

5. Treat All of You — Not Just Your Self-Consciousness

Trying to solve your self-consciousness alone may not treat the root of the problem. Instead, take a well-rounded approach to lower your self-consciousness and build confidence in areas where you may struggle.

Even professional counselors are embracing this holistic type of treatment[6] because they feel that the health of the mind and body are inextricably linked. This approach combines physical, spiritual, and psychological components. Common activities and treatments include meditation, yoga, massage, and healthy changes to diet and exercise.

If much of this is new to you, it will pay to give it a try. You never know how it will impact you.

If you’re feeling self-conscious about how your body looks, a massage that makes you feel great could boost your confidence. If you try a new workout, you could have something exciting to talk about the next time you’re in a group setting.

Putting yourself in a new situation and learning that you can get through it with grace can give you the confidence to get through all sorts of events and nerve-wracking moments.

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6. Make the Changes That Are Within Your Control

Let’s say you walk into a room and you’re self-conscious about how you look. However, you may have put a lot of time and effort into your outfit. Even though it may stand out, this is how you have chosen to express yourself.

You have to work on your internal confidence, not your external appearance. There’s nothing to change other than your outlook.

On the other hand, maybe there’s something that you don’t like about yourself that you can change. For example, maybe you hate how a birthmark on your face looks or have varicose veins that you think are unsightly. If you can do something about these things, do it! There’s nothing wrong with changing your appearance (or skills, education, etc.) if it’s going to make you more confident.

You don’t have to accept your current situation for acceptance’s sake. There’s no award for putting up with something you hate. Confidence is also required to make changes that are scary, even if they’re for the better. Plus, it may be an easier fix than you thought. For example, treating varicose veins doesn’t have to involve surgery — sometimes simple compression stockings will take care of the problem.[7]

7. Realize That Everyone Has Awkward Moments

Everyone has said something awkward to someone else and lived to tell the tale. We’ve all forgotten somebody’s name or said, “You too!” when the concession stand girl says to enjoy our movie. Not only are these things uber-common, but they’re not nearly as embarrassing as you feel they are.

Think about how you react when someone else does something awkward. Do you think, “Wow, that person’s such a loser!” or do you think, “What a relief, I’m not the only one who does that.” Chances are good that’s the same reaction others have to you when you stumble.

Remember, self-consciousness is a state of mind that you have control over. You don’t have to feel this way. Do what you need to in order to build your confidence, put your self-consciousness in perspective, and start exercising your “I feel awesome about myself” muscle. It’ll get easier with time.

When Is Being Self-Conscious a Good Thing?

Self-consciousness can sometimes be a good thing[8], but you have to take the awkwardness and nerves out of it.

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In this case, “self-aware” is a much better term. Knowing how you come off to people is an excellent trait; you’ll be able to read a room and understand how what you do and say affects others. These are fantastic skills for people work and personal relationships.

Self-awareness helps you dress appropriately for the occasion, tells you that you’re talking too loud or not loud enough, and guides a conversation so you don’t offend or bore anyone.

It’s not about being someone you’re not — that can actually have adverse effects, just like self-consciousness. Instead, it’s about turning up certain aspects of yourself to perform well in the situation.

Final Thoughts

When you’re self-conscious, you’re constantly battling with yourself in an effort to control how other people view you. You try to change yourself to suit what you think other people want to see.

The truth, though, is that you can’t actually control how other people view you — and you may not even be correct about how they view you in the first place.

Being confident doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small steps as you slowly build your confidence and say “no” to your self-consciousness. It also requires accepting that you’re going to feel self-conscious sometimes, and that’s okay.

Sometimes worrying that there is a problem can be more stressful than the problem itself. Feeling bad for feeling self-conscious can be more troublesome than simply feeling it and getting on with the day.

Forgive yourself for being human and make the small changes that will lead to better confidence in the future.

More Tips for Improving Your Self-Esteem

Featured photo credit: Cata via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Merriam-Webster: Self-conscious
[2] Bustle: 7 Tips On How To Stop Feeling Self-Conscious
[3] Marc and Angel: 10 Things to Remember When You Feel Unsure of Yourself
[4] Bostitch: How to Protect Small Businesses From Burnout
[5] Psychology Today: Self-conscious? Get Over It
[6] Wake Forest University: Embracing Holistic Medicine
[7] Center for Vein Restoration: What Causes Venous Ulcers, and How Are They Treated?
[8] Scientific American: The Pros and Cons of Being Self-Aware

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