Am I Self-Centered?

Self-concept, self-care, self-awareness, self-worth, self-image, self-esteem, self-efficacy. . . are we too self-centered?

I am sure you, like me, have heard it many times from our elders, that our generation is too self-centered. As teenagers we were self-absorbed, thinking only about ourselves.

But are we at fault for being so "self" centered?

Why Are We Self-Centered?

Being self-centered kind of comes with the territory when you grow up in an individualistic society, like the US.

Group work does not come easy to us Americans. . .

Most of the time we are the captain of our own ship: we are responsible for our own life and our own successes. Being self-centered can be a good thing. We are used to taking care of ourselves and trying to get a head.

This question of being too self-centered comes up because it lends itself naturally to what I have been studying for the past few months, self-concepts (self-worth, self-image, ideal self) and self-awareness.

Can There Be A Balance?

We are told many things: that mindfulness is important for happiness; self-care is essential; awareness is key. But do we get to a point where we are too self-absorbed?

Is there a balance between being self-aware and being self-centered?

Is our generation really TOO self-centered?

Personal Anecdote

This conundrum has come up for me on two separate occasions. (I see the irony here: me, my, I, etc.)

Both coming from my husband.

I love my husband’s honesty and his way of giving me a reality check, keeping me honest as it were. But being called a princess was a little bit of a hit to my ego and has stuck with me for about a week now.

The first time, when he alerted me to not thinking of others, I had to check myself. After his comment, I thought: “I will have to do a better job at thinking of others in such a situation.” But the second time it came up I wondered if there was a pattern and a greater issue that I needed to explore.

He unknowingly raises the question of balance and where can it be found?

How can we be compassionate towards ourselves, exploring our thoughts and feeling our feelings, and at the same time be respectful of others' needs?

When do we go over the line into selfishness?

Upon further conversation with friends I realized that as humans we are habitually selfish but also habitually kind.

We are more likely to remember things if we are able to relate it to ourselves or our experience in some way. We are more likely to do things for others if we are recognized for our work. We are human, we are hardwired to survive, so naturally, we come first.

But on the other hand, we are meant to be kind and giving towards others. Those who are altruistic have better health. Those of us who are trusting live longer. And those of us who feel a sense of belonging are less depressed. (power of kindness).

So, I guess it is not just me that has trouble with thinking outside of herself. I suppose the true answer to all of those questions I have sprinkled throughout this post is process and awareness.

Progress, not perfection

When I reflect on this idea, my perfectionist nature arises and I start “shoulding” all over myself.

“I should have thought about it differently.”

“I should be more thoughtful towards others.”

But I have to remind myself that I am going for progress not perfection. Interest in myself is a new and exciting area for me. It can sometimes be hard for me to not dive fully into a new topic of exploration.

The answer to finding this balance may even be construed as more of a goal, or even a question.

How can I think about myself AND others in this situation?

Where can I practice kindness towards others?

Since it is important for us to strike a balance, between being too self-centered and putting ourselves last, awareness is important for this practice of mediation of doing things for ourselves and others.

Can we all just try to be better than before?