We discussed what self esteem is and how to gain more healthy self esteem in the previous two articles. Now it is time to distinguish the difference between having self esteem (or self worth) and being self centered. There is a clear distinction between the two traits. However, there tends to be confusion around valuing who we are, and thinking it’s the same as being self centered. It’s not and here’s why.
Why We Need Self Esteem
Self esteem is an incredibly healthy quality to have. In fact, it is essential to living a productive, happy, and whole life. Having a positive view of ourselves, accepting our flaws, and appreciating our abilities is grounding. We need self esteem to remain stable, loving, and productive individuals. There is not such a thing as having too much self esteem. That would be like saying, you have too much humility and grounding in life. Too much confidence is such a thing, which is how we perceive our ability to succeed in certain areas. A completely different trait, that is also needed in life but in moderation.
What It’s Like To Be Self Centered
According to Webster dictionary, self centered is defined as being “concerned solely with one’s own desires, needs, or interests.”
Often, people with this personality trait lack compassion for others, inability to see other people’s needs, desires and interests, and typically think it’s all about them. Usually, they take things out of context, have a hard time taking responsibility for their actions, and can’t seem to grasp reality. Like everything, there are degrees of self centered tendencies, and some may exhibit more than others. The key phrase to sum up people who are self centered is this, “they think they are the shit, but often feel like shit.”
Strip everything away, and the root of self centered behavior is fear. They are typically afraid of what is going to happen to them, afraid of not being enough, afraid of missing out, afraid of failure, afraid of life in general. They act like scared children, despite being adults. They crave outside validation in the form of unnecessary drama, being the center of attention, and constantly need to talk about themselves– all in order to cope with life. You can see, that there is very little to no self esteem present with these individuals. It’s a problem of lack, not too much.
How Does Self Centered Conditions Occur?
One theory is, as children, we are praised unconditionally. The youngest and only child typically gets more praise then most. While at the same time, when there is an issue happening in our household, we initially believe it is our fault. That’s because we haven’t had enough experience to realize people act and react for a variety of reasons. It’s also too hard to fathom our parents aren’t perfect and we have no control. If the child never grows out of these mindsets, they continue to believe every is about them. The issues are their fault and it feels safer to focus on what they can control, which is themselves. Even though, by doing this, they are missing out on what it is really like to experience and enjoy life.
Secondly it could be a personality disorder or addiction causing the self centered tendencies. I found this excerpt from Everyday Health insightful:
If there is a person in your life who seems exceedingly self-centered, he or she may suffer from narcissistic personality disorder. According to Dr. Dan Neuharth, “People with narcissistic personality disorder lack a healthy emotional core. They are driven by a moment-to-moment monitoring of their worth. Since they find it difficult to provide self-worth, they seek it from external sources.”source
The antidote to self centered behavior is being of service. Removing yourself entirely and focus on other people’s problems for a select amount of time. It means breaking the addiction, seeking help, and reprogram the mind. For narcissism, unfortunately therapy rarely works, but instead harms the victim who is in the relationship with the narcissist. Overall, these actions of recovery must be done by the free will of the individual who exhibits self centered traits. It is impossible to change people who are unwilling to change.
Question Of The Day
Can you see the difference between self esteem and self centered?