Always Putting Yourself First? Here Are Signs You’re Self-Absorbed

From our friendships to our family relationships to our significant others, we all have one common thread — we want to be the best version of ourselves for the people we love and cherish. There are moments when we give back to our loved ones by treating them to a night out or giving them gifts, but when all is said and done, do your needs tend to come before the needs of others? It’s always a good thing to consider your needs and wants, as many people do not know how to take care of themselves while also taking care of others. But, be careful that your “me” time doesn’t read as selfish. Doing your own thing and making choices that are beneficial for yourself is important in life, but there are moments when your behavior crosses the boundary from healthy to self-absorbed. Check out these five signs that you may be a little more selfish than you thought.

1. You always act defensively

Man sighing in bed

Your defensiveness may make you appear self-absorbed. | iStock.com

The scenario may seem all-too familiar — your significant other has approached you about something you said that bothered them. They’re explaining to you why your actions or words may have hurt them, and instead of apologizing, you jump to your own defense. Instead of providing comfort or trying to understand the conversation at the present, you say that they do the same behaviors to you all the time in an attempt to defend yourself. You take the situation as a full-blown attack and think that if you can deflect the situation back at them, you can further protect your own ego and self-esteem.

We’ve all had our defensive moments, but if this kind of callous behavior is common in your interactions with others, then it could be a sign that you’re self-absorbed. Nancy Colier for The Huffington Post explains that defensive behavior typically leads to an invalidation of the other person’s feelings simply because you do not want to hear about their negative views of you. You may react harshly to criticism, no matter how constructive it may be, as a way to protect your own ego and come out on top as the person who was “right” in the situation. We advise listening to the concerns of others fully before jumping to your own defense.

2. You have trouble collaborating at work

businessman presenting at a meeting

Be a team player at work. | iStock.com

Not all of us loved group projects in school, and for many of us, the desire to finish tasks alone carried into the workplace. It’s fine to prefer to do your own thing on your own projects — after all, you can probably get them done faster — but if you find yourself leading your pack of colleagues through a project that’s only been created by your ideas, you could be self-absorbed.

All of your colleagues may not be totally into a project, but if you think that your ideas are far superior to theirs and won’t give their voice any merit, then this is pretty selfish behavior. You won’t always have to agree with everything your teammates say, but when it comes to collaboration, everyone deserves a chance to be heard. Forbes explains that if your colleagues have begun to disengage from you and give a disconnected vibe in the office, they might think you’re selfish. It could be a good time to let their thoughts and feelings shine. Listen to their ideas to be a real team player.

3. You’re constantly complaining

man and woman arguing at work

If you’re always complaining, your friends and family probably think you’re being selfish. | iStock.com

If your family asks you to come along to a picnic with them even if it means giving up your date with Netflix and the couch, do you complain, or do you go along with a smile? When your significant other asks you to clean the dishes that have been in the sink all day, do you whine before getting the task done, or do you get to it without the backtalk? Your complaints not only tell others what you do or don’t want to participate in, but they also say, “what I want to do is important to me, and I don’t care if it’s important to you.”

Barbara Neal Varma for The Atlantic explains that complaining isn’t always a bad thing — it’s good to know what you want out of a situation and to express your feelings. However, there’s a strategic nature to complaining that those who are self-absorbed don’t consider. Robin Kowalski, psychology professor at Clemson University, explains that those who are mindful complainers understand how their whining will affect those around them, so they choose the right time and place to express their dissatisfaction. On the other hand, those with higher self-esteem complain whenever they see fit, as they are more likely to believe that their opinion of a situation will turn things around for them.

4. You’re always talking about yourself

friends all gathered together

Make sure to listen to your friends as much as they listen to you when you’re socializing. | iStock.com

Pride is good — when you do well on an assignment at work or school or make strides in your fitness and health, it feels great, and you can’t wait to share that good feeling with your friends and family. Problems arise when you’re out with friends and they begin to share their achievements — instead of listening and congratulating them on achieving their goals, their happiness reminds you of your awesome achievements too, which you then dive right into. Before you even know it, you’ve totally hijacked the conversation so that it’s all about you, and you can’t even remember what your friends were talking about in the first place.

Because of how prevalent social media is in all of our lives, this sort of behavior can seep into your online life. Stacy Alcorn for Entrepreneur suggests taking a look at your latest Facebook and Instagram posts to see how self-absorbed you may appear to others. Are your posts only selfies and blurbs about yourself, your opinions, and your accomplishments? You could come off selfish without ever even physically opening your mouth, so do yourself a favor and keep a close eye on what you say and what you post.

5. You blame the world for your problems

Sad teenage girl looking out the window

Constantly blaming others? Take control of your own life to avoid seeming self-absorbed. | iStock.com/max-kegfire

We all have days where it feels like the world is against us, but when it comes down to our relationships with others, our home life, and our work, most of our situations are ones we have put ourselves in. It’s easy to blame your boss for that bad quarterly review or your parents for not helping you pay off the last of your student loans, but when you refuse accountability for your own life and your own situations, you’re pretty self-absorbed. If you find yourself playing the blame game more than you do taking responsibility for your actions, then don’t be too surprised if others think you’re selfish.

Psychology Today’s Elliot D. Cohen, Ph. D., says that typically when you start blaming others before taking an inward look at yourself, you’re participating in irrational thoughts to justify the blaming. Blaming others also leaves little room for constructive conversations with others, which can alienate those close to you and makes you appear negative, closed-off, and selfish. Or, perhaps your constant blaming is coming from an unrealistic view of someone or something. You want this person or thing to be perfect, and when it’s not, do you begin the blaming, or do you take an inward look at your flawed expectations? Learn that you pave your own path to happiness, and you’re the only one responsible for your life to rid yourself of this negative and self-absorbed behavior.

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