Although it may be confusing, selfishness is not synonymous with selfishness. Yes, both terms come from the Greek term “ego” which means “I” and have often been used as synonyms, psychology currently differentiates between the two words.
A person who puts his or her own desires or benefits ahead of those of others is defined as selfish. Although selfishness also refers to a personality tendency where the subject thinks more of himself than of others, it differs from selfishness in that the need to keep talking or writing about himself presents people called selfish.
According to his definition, selfish people are those who give themselves excessive importance, on the other hand, in selfishness, we do not speak of an exaggerated feeling towards one’s own personality, but of an excessive love for oneself.
Although for many unknowns this term is quite old. First appearance in an article from the publication “The Spectator” published in 1714. In this article we will see in more detail what selfishness is and how it develops at the social and individual level, we also expose its characteristic features and explain how to deal with it.
What is selfishness?
Some people cannot see beyond themselves. Tolstoy called this phenomenon aduyevschina, after the number of the main character in Goncharov’s first novel.
selfishness is the excess of importance exhibited by some people who constantly need to talk about themselvesprivileging his need for recognition over that of others.
A selfish person has a strong sense of self and maintains a good perception of their personal characteristics. A good self-concept if accompanied by a certain degree of objectivity is something positive. However, selfish people believe that they have more positive qualities than they actually have and that they are worth more than others. Their personal importance and self-image are exaggerated. These overestimates may include physical, intellectual, social characteristics or any other type.
For some authors, selfishness is a socialized version of narcissism, in this type of person the sense of their own importance, and the need for admiration does not become excessive or pathological. But like narcissists, selfish people love the idea of themselves, they are boastful, arrogant and think they are more important than the people around them.
Selfish people tend to talk only about themselves and they cannot recognize when others have achieved something. Their lack of sensitivity can make them angry when they feel ignored or overlooked, while their inability to take criticism can encourage them to promote themselves a lot.
Selfishness moves away from altruism and concern for others. However, unlike selfishness, selfish people do not constantly seek to satisfy their own interests before those of others, moreover, they can take them very seriously if they pay attention to them and satisfy their need to be cared for and listened to. . Although, if they criticize them, they will not overreact, the high self-image that selfish people have of themselves will make them consider any type of negative appreciation or comment about them, such as craving or lack of information.
development of selfishness
Selfishness is characteristic of individuals, especially in the early stages of development. This term can also be applied to describe a society or a culture deemed too childish, where individuals are too focused on themselves and their vision of the world.
1. Individual selfishness
During growth, we went from self-centered children to being socially conscious. Babies tend to have big egos, thinking they are powerful, unique, and important, and their parents have to meet all of their needs. Selfishness is normal in babies, moreover, it could be considered a survival mechanism.
Self-concept is a person’s understanding of themselves, their personality and their identity. Self-concept is fragile and can be overcompensated if a person does not have a good sense of themselves and their personal characteristics during development.
During development, a person gradually acquires a more realistic view of himself in relation to the world around him, diminishing selfish characteristics. A person who does not acquire this adjustment between self-esteem and reality may develop defensive egoism (overcompensation for a weak self-concept). Growth must lead to the integration of the “me” with the “me” of others.
2. Selfishness in today’s society
Although selfish characteristics disappear as we grow up, some authors suggest that a different trend can be seen in cultural terms. According to these, postmodern society is becoming more and more infantile. They explain it by the evolution and opinion of selfishness throughout history. In the 19th century, selfishness was considered a vice, like self-contemplation. However, during Romanticism, there were already ideas and movements that considered self-contemplation as a means of acquiring knowledge and allowing us to know ourselves. The romantic idea of the self-created individual was a kind of authorized selfishness. This self-centered thinking has only grown.
Currently, the original romantic egoism is fed by what the authors call “technocapitalism” in two complementary ways, on the one hand, the egocentric consumer, driven by his brand identity; second, the equally selfish militants, who rage against the machine (technocapitalism), producing more goods that can be sold to consumers.
Characteristics of selfishness
As we have already said, for some authors, egoism has a close relationship with narcissism, the former being a more attenuated version of the pathological state.
However, there are some differences. To be more specific, narcissists they need constant adoration and often seek praise. They also react strongly to criticism. Selfish people, on the other hand, have a high level of trust, so they are less likely to seek praise (they know they are good) and more likely to ignore criticism, they will view it as based on jealousy or people are not well informed
Now let’s take a look at the most common selfish personality traits and how they show up in day-to-day behavior.
1. Exaggerated self-concept
Regardless of the reality of the situation, selfish people think they are the best and are never wrong. When faced with a negative event, they may pretend they didn’t say or do what they remember doing, or what actually happened. Sometimes they can be so convincing that others may doubt themselves and their own memory of what happened.
Therefore, a selfish person may ignore the experience of others or disregard it as valid, and may feed their personality with confrontation. Instead of being on the defensive when this happens, it is better to anticipate.
2. Lack of accountability
Selfish people never take responsibility for their actions. If they do something wrong or cause a problem, their main strategy is to try and put the blame on someone else. If we live or work with someone who is selfish, it is useful not to wait who take responsibility for their actions, so we don’t get frustrated or disappointed because they don’t. In the case of discovering this personality trait in ourselves, we must understand that in the long run, accepting the consequences of our own actions will allow us to have a better image of ourselves.
3. Lack of empathy
People who have difficulty understanding how others are feeling may sometimes have a narcissistic personality. However, the lack of empathy between egoists and narcissists differs in degree.
While a narcissist lacks the ability to empathize, An egoist finds it difficult to be empathetic in certain situations.. Especially if someone is sensitive to their struggles or explains their problems, the selfish person will think they are alone wanting importance and will not be understanding or empathetic.
If we are facing a difficult experience or need emotional support, a selfish person is not the best person to help us. Instead, it’s best to have a positive support network with people who care about others as well as themselves.
4. Excessive self-centeredness
A selfish person seeks to draw attention to himself in every way imaginable. Selfish people say yo or mi all the time and find ways to include their personal stories in conversations where it’s obviously not necessary. This recurring behavior can have social consequences, selfish people, because of their egocentrism, they may end up pushing friends and family out of their lives.
5. Lack of commitment
Selfish people don’t do things that aren’t particularly beneficial to them or aren’t the center of attention. Which means they don’t commit to going to events or places beyond their interests. Although not being invited to an event can be a source of conflict as they may feel that they are not being considered.
In conclusion, dealing with a selfish personality is quite complicated. In the case of having frequent contact with a selfish person, it is good to establish clear limits from the beginning, for example, on subjects that will not be discussed. Also, understand that how you react or act has nothing to do with us, so anticipating it and being aware of it can also keep us from feeling frustrated frequently.
- Jour, NJ, Townsend, ML and Grenyer, BF (2020). Living with pathological narcissism: a qualitative study. Borderline personality disorder and dysregulation of emotions
- Brunzel, J. (2020). Overconfidence and narcissism among the upper echelons: a systematic review of the literature.