I never thought of myself as being selfish. In school, I was a total push-over because I never said no to helping people. Since I can remember, I was always proud of being a good listener and a loyal friend (I would have made quite a good dog I think).
But here’s the thing: I thought that I was good at something, and I didn’t bother learning to get better. Don’t I always say that you have to keep learning?
Being selfish is okay when it comes to putting your needs first. But if you wish to be more selfless in relationships, just keep on reading!
1. You’re being selfish when you are too focused on your own problems
Let me take you back a couple of months. My boyfriend and I had moved to our new place not long ago, and his older brother came to visit us for a day. He’s going through some tough time at the moment because he lost his job and has trouble finding a new one. Well, you know how that goes.
So he came to our house and he was telling us all about his job search and how he constantly gets invited to interviews and… and the rest I don’t know. Because after a while, I realised that my mind was so full of my own problems that I didn’t even listen.
It might sound silly, but it was quite a shock for me. I, who’s probably only quality in life was being a good listener, failed even at that (It’s not as dramatic really, but you see what I mean).
I started questioning myself. When did I become so self-absorbed that I couldn’t make time to try and help someone else?
And then I started noticing: I didn’t pay enough attention to my boyfriend’s problems at work. I didn’t make time to explain to my brothers how they could create a YouTube channel (how come 10-year-olds all have a YouTube channel nowadays?). Basically, my own life had taken the upper hand, and I was being selfish in my relationships.
So I forced myself to change. I tried to understand every single detail of what my boyfriend was telling me, started making much more time to talk to my family, and really listened to what was being said.
I feel much more like myself again!
2. You’re being selfish when you feel better when others fail
These are examples that I’m not quite happy to share, but I will anyway to illustrate what I mean. It’s about how other people’s failures can make you feel better.
You might know about my whole existential crisis I had in the past years. Well, I wasn’t too proud of myself during that time. And every time I heard that other people were becoming successful, it made me feel a little bit bad in comparison.
My best friend got her dream job and was paid twice as much as me (literally). A friend from school created her own business and was killing it. People I knew were getting married and seemed to get their happily ever after.
Unfortunately, it made me feel better when I heard that people I knew didn’t do so well. I’m not proud of it. But it did, and I preferred comparing myself to them to feel good about myself.
But it’s stupid, and I feel it now more than ever. Success is not a limited good, and when others succeed it doesn’t mean that you won’t.
Moreover, the more you surround yourself with people who do a great job at life, the better you’ll become over time.
3. You’re being selfish when you don’t properly listen
I don’t quite like writing this post anymore, because it makes me share things that I don’t like about myself. But acceptance is the first step towards change, so I’ll continue. But please don’t hate me.
So, let’s talk about fights with your other half. How many times have you waited for him or her to be done talking so you can say what you’re thinking?
How many times have you been collecting counter-arguments while you were supposedly listening?
And how many times have you actually taken the time to carefully listen to his or her point of view, without judging, without thinking of a reply, and tried to understand what they were feeling?
I have to be honest, I do the “collecting counter-arguments” kind of thing way too often. I do it because I feel that my boyfriend never listens to me. And while that might be true sometimes, it doesn’t give me an excuse to do the same.
So I started forcing myself to just listen. It’s weird how, by doing just that, my perspective on things started to change. I suddenly realised that there is no objective point of view. There is my boyfriend’s point of view, and mine. Both are subjective, both are right and wrong at the same time.
I don’t want my relationship to be about who’s right and who’s wrong, especially since there’s no solution to that anyway. I want us to figure out a common point of view instead. So, this is my way of being less selfish in my relationship.
4. You’re being selfish when you talk too much about yourself
Think about your communication with your parents.
The thing is, we’re all quite self-absorbed when we’re little. But that’s supposed to change when you get older, and it’s something that I struggled with recently.
Since there was so much going on in my life and I’m in this by myself, I’ve been needing an outlet to talk about everything. And I realised that whenever I called my parents, we always ended up talking about my stuff. Well, I was talking most of the time.
It took me a while to realise why our conversations didn’t feel quite right anymore. I was focusing so much on what I was going through that I didn’t participate in their life anymore!
So I decided to make an effort and asked questions instead of talking. And within 5 minutes, everything went back to normal!
Now I’m really careful not to overshare. I still share, but I really don’t have to dump the whole inside of my brain on anyone else!
I really hope you liked this post because it wasn’t an easy one to write. I’m not even sure if I want anyone to read it but oh well… if you think it could help someone, feel free to share!