“I only care about myself.” Why? Because you might be self-centered. Though we may not readily see it, self-centeredness is well spread throughout every aspect of human behavior. Therefore, we must examine its psychological roots and implications.
This blog extensively discusses the concept of caring about only oneself. Why do I care about myself only? Is it healthy? How can you deal with it? Are there better ways of prioritizing self? You are just a few minutes away from finding the answers to these questions and others.
So, read on!
Decoding Self-Centered Behavior and ‘I Only Care About Myself’ Psychology
Have you ever wondered, “Why do I only think about myself and nothing else”? People sometimes aggressively prioritize themselves over everything else, whether it comes easy or not. This is often called self-centeredness.
But there is more to it than meets the eye. So, let’s set the ball rolling by understanding what self-centeredness is.
What is self-centeredness?
This is the same as asking, what does it mean when you only care about yourself? In simple terms, it means you are self-centered. Self-centered individuals are excessively preoccupied with only their needs, perspectives, and desires.
When you only care about yourself, you do so at the expense of other people. Unlike self-care, self-centeredness conditions an individual always to put themselves and their needs first. That’s why a self-centered person will only think about themselves regardless of the feelings of others.
People exhibit self-centeredness at different levels, from mild to extreme and seldom to regular. It also manifests in various ways. For example, self-centered individuals may interrupt conversations frequently to impose their views. They may also display more severe signs of entitlement and arrogance.
Why should we care?
There is a great deal of risk associated with self-centeredness. It creates a distorted sense of reality in the individual, causing them to lack awareness and open-mindedness. Such people also lack empathy, gratitude, and patience. They are likelier to take advantage of innocent people, manipulating them while disregarding their feelings and rights.
When it comes to relationships, a self-centered individual struggles to form or maintain one. They find it difficult to offer or receive love, respect, or support in friendships or romantic relationships. This puts them at a higher risk of anger and depression.
Apart from personal issues, self-centeredness can also affect society adversely. On a large scale, it causes conflicts, misunderstandings, and mistrust among individuals. The only way to avoid all of these is to care–we must show care for others as much as we do for ourselves.
Navigating the Intersection of Psychology and the ‘Why Do I Only Care About Myself’ Challenge
We have established that caring about oneself aggressively is a trait of self-centered individuals. But if you only care about yourself, rest assured that it does not happen on its own. Self-centeredness is often backed by the strong psychology and experiences of the exhibiting individuals.
Some of these include early attachment styles and childhood experiences, fear of vulnerability and emotional insecurity, cognitive biases, and distorted thinking patterns, among others. Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
Early Attachment Styles and Childhood Experiences
According to the Attachment Theory, originating in the work of John Bowlby, an individual can develop any of the four attachment styles. These are (i) secure or autonomous, (ii) avoidant or dismissing, (iii) anxious or preoccupied, and (iv) disorganized or resolved.
- Individuals with secured attachment feel confident in themselves and their relationships.
- People with avoidant attachment choose their independence over intimate or emotional connection.
- Persons with anxious attachment fear being abandoned and want approval from others.
- People with disorganized attachment develop conflicting feelings and behaviors, exhibiting fear and confusion.
Everyone develops their attachment style as part of their childhood experience. This, in turn, forms the basis of how they relate to others and influences their self-centeredness differently.
For instance, people with an anxious attachment may be self-centered because they always think about their own needs and fears. Similarly, people with a disorganized attachment may be self-centered because they cannot see past their trauma and emotions.
Fear of Vulnerability and Emotional Insecurity
When you are vulnerable, you risk getting hurt, rejected, or criticized by people for being or showing your authentic self. But should we be afraid of vulnerability because of the risk involved? The answer is no. We can only form fulfilling and meaningful relationships when we are vulnerable.
Interestingly, people who are afraid of vulnerability struggle with emotional security. Their past experiences often shape their current situation. Such individuals tend to erect emotional barriers around them. They avoid openness and genuine connection.
They also have a perceived need for self-protection. These people may become self-centered in their quest to attain self-protection from rejection or hurt. Their self-centeredness may also stem from needing validation and approval from others. So, they boast about their achievements and exaggerate their qualities.
Cognitive Biases and Distorted Thinking Patterns
The “why do I only care about myself challenge” is often fueled by cognitive biases and distorted thinking patterns. We make judgments and decisions based on how we perceive and interpret information. When we interpret wrongly, it leads to cognitive biases and, subsequently, distorted thinking patterns.
Individuals with cognitive biases and distorted thinking patterns may become self-centered because they now favor themselves unhealthily. They also disregard opposing views, perceiving them as attacks on them. They expect others to always agree with them without reservations.
Similarly, self-centeredness in such people may be influenced by their bias against their abilities and convictions. They may assume they are never right or are the worst of the pack. They subject themselves to harsh self-criticism and often assume that others will treat or access them similarly.
Consequences of Self-Centeredness: The Negative Impacts on Self and Others
Self-centeredness is not without its consequences. We have highlighted the common causes of self-centeredness in people. Next, let’s discuss how the situation adversely affects self-centered individuals and others around them.
Interpersonal difficulties and relationship strain
Self-centered people are more likely to go through interpersonal difficulties and strains in their relationships. Such individuals tend to ignore, neglect, or disrespect the opinions and feelings of the other party.
They struggle to listen actively or communicate effectively, making conflict resolution impossible. Their lack of appreciation, respect, reciprocity, and empathy may further complicate these relationships.
Due to the resulting friction, the affected persons become lonely, isolated, and rejected. This may also cause considerable damage to their credibility and reputation, as more people will find them difficult to be with.
Mental health struggles and emotional isolation
Self-centeredness is commonly associated with a dip in mental health and emotional strength. Therefore, self-centered people may experience low self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-awareness, alongside high levels of self-hatred, self-doubt, and self-criticism.
Why is self-care so hard for such people? It is because the distortion in their perception of self and reality breeds emotions like anxiety, depression, anger, and guilt. They eventually become disconnected and isolated from the people and situations around them.
With their quality of life and well-being impaired, they are on the brink of mental disorders. This can force them into coping mechanisms like substance and human abuse if not properly managed.
Stunted personal growth and missed opportunities
Self-centeredness can limit one’s potential and personal growth. Being too focused on yourself forces you to be close-minded and stubborn. You become inflexible, making it difficult to learn, grow, or change for the better.
The unwillingness to challenge yourself, take risks, or attempt new things means you miss out on opportunities. This leads to stunted growth in careers, education, and relationships. Self-centered people also tend to be ignorant, arrogant, and stagnant.
If these persist for long, the lack of growth and missed opportunities build up self-resentment. There is also a significant reduction in their chances of living a fulfilling and happy life.
Beyond the “Me”: Shifting Perspectives and Building Empathy
No one has to experience all these consequences of self-centeredness. As a self-centered individual, you can do some reassessment of yourself and shift your perspectives to become a better individual.
Having outlined the causes and consequences of self-centeredness, let’s balance the scale by providing some actionable steps to fix the situation. Here are practical strategies to replace aggressive self-focus with something balanced and healthier.
Cultivating self-awareness and introspection.
Unlike self-centered people, self-aware people can see themselves objectively by continuously introspecting their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, values, goals, and motivations. It entails knowing how these affect them and the people around them.
So, how do we cultivate self-awareness and introspection? We have outlined a few helpful tips below:
Mindfulness and Meditation
Practicing mindfulness and meditation can improve healthy self-focus.
Documenting and reflecting on personal experiences, learnings, and insights can improve self-awareness.
Being open to feedback from others can expose us to diverse perspectives and help us learn from our mistakes.
Self-care can significantly improve our mental, emotional, and physical health.
Taking personality and self-assessment tests can help us better understand our traits, styles, and preferences.
Practicing active listening and perspective-taking.
Active listening is a form of communication that combines hearing words with seeking to understand the meaning and intent behind such words. You can only listen actively when you actively participate in the communication process.
Combining this with perspective-taking, a cognitive skill that involves imagining and adopting the point of view of others, can help fight self-centeredness. Below are some tips to practice active listening and perspective-taking.
Participating in Conversations
Actively engage with people from other cultures, backgrounds, and experiences while keeping an open mind.
Proper Expression of Feelings
Express your feelings and needs in a way that does not disregard or disrespect that of others. Consider using “I” and ‘You” statements here.
Clarifications over Assumptions
It is easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions while interacting with people. But it is better to ask questions and seek clarification.
Adopt the “Six Thinking Hats” strategy
This strategy helps to approach a situation or problem from different perspectives and arrive at more creative and comprehensive solutions.
Nurturing compassion and building stronger connections.
A compassionate individual has positive intentions and genuine concern for others. They recognize and understand the situation of others while being empathetic to their needs and feelings.
When you present yourself as compassionate, creating stronger connections with others becomes easier. Collaboration also improves, the trust level increases, and loyalty strengthens.
Here is how you can nurture your compassionate side and form stronger bonds with people:
You can show compassion by adequately appreciating what you have and what others do for you.
Acts of Kindness
Random acts of kindness can help to spread joy and goodwill to others, thereby making us and them happy.
This can help develop positive and warm feelings towards yourself and others.
Creating a safe space where people can share stories, challenges, and triumphs while receiving support and encouragement can be helpful.
Conclusion: Embracing a Growth Mindset and Embarking on Positive Change.
So far, we’ve explored the psychology behind self-centeredness and how it affects individuals and people around them. We have successfully established that self-centeredness is not a fixed or permanent trait.
“I care about myself only” is also not the end of the world. Instead, it is a behavior that can be improved or changed. But it requires intentional work and commitment, and this is where the importance of taking care of yourself comes in.
When we embrace a growth mindset, we can acknowledge our self-centered tendencies and push ourselves to improve. We can also go on a journey of positive change where we cultivate self-awareness and introspection, practice active listening and perspective-taking, and then nurture compassion to build stronger connections.
Doing all of these helps develop a healthier self-image and self-focus. It also enhances our mental health and well-being while enriching our relationships and interactions with others, ultimately eliminating self-centeredness.