Do you often just think about yourself and what you want instead of considering other people? If yes, you’re not alone — it’s pretty normal for everyone to be selfish sometimes, but it doesn’t mean it’s all fine. Egoism and selfishness are natural human tendencies, they are present in all of us, some possess higher degrees of these and some have very little to no selfish attitude. These negative traits of a personality often result in a negative persona stamp on us, and we are judged have a negative personality, often leaving us without the company of good or close friends.

If you still wonder how selfishness ruins your personality and your relationships, let me give you a little glimpse into this evil trait. First of all, selfishness is when you refuse to share, wanting things on your demand and considering your wishes over others. In short, your life revolves around you, it’s just “me, me and me”. Selfishness negatively impacts your relationships with others, and your personality as a whole. So if you find some of these traits in you, now is the time to develop positive qualities like generosity, compassion and humility, before losing good relationships from your life.

Start from your home

Selfishness often starts at home. For example, as kids, you may not want to share your toys with your siblings. You might even refuse when parents ask you to share. But when your siblings get new toys, suddenly you want to play with those!

Another example is when parents buy two pencil boxes — one with a cool guitar picture and another with just the words ‘Rock on!”. You might grab the guitar one without considering if your sibling would like that one too.

This type of self-centred behaviour fails to show care or empathy. It teaches your siblings to also just think of themselves first and take the best things without caring about others’ feelings.

It can be hard to admit you have these negative traits. But little everyday examples like taking the biggest piece of cake, the drumstick from the curry, the best art supplies, the newest gadget — without waiting for others or considering their wants is what is selfishness.

Walk in others’ shoes

It is almost impossible for selfish people to understand other perspectives than their own. So imagine yourself in someone else’s position. If you broke your friend’s toy accidentally and he forgives you, think about how badly you’d feel if they had broken your toy accidentally, how you would have been angry and wouldn’t have forgiven them easily.

Let’s take another example. If you want to play a video game on your friend’s computer and he gives you some time to play, think about how would you have felt if he had refused to let you play at all. That would not feel good, right?

Putting yourself in someone else’s place helps you realise how it feels to be turned down. This self-reflection helps decrease selfish tendencies and develop more empathy. We should treat others how we hope to be treated if we were in their situation.

You must realise that sharing what you have is selflessness. Whether it’s your toys or access to devices and games, because not everything needs to be taken under the ‘mine’ category. When you open up and let your friends or siblings enjoy each other’s possessions too, it creates a positive atmosphere. Practicing this selfless outlook early on develops empathy and compassion in one’s nature.

Think of others first

Selfishness starts in your mind when you only think “I, me, myself!” If you catch yourself doing this, shift your thoughts to others. Before demanding the whole box of biscuits or the first turn to play, ask “Is this fair?”

Imagine how others think and feel. Caring about their needs too is important. Putting someone else first, even just in your thoughts, helps beat selfish habits. It takes practice, but you can do it!

Find your motivation

Sure, your parents may want you to be less selfish — but what do you want for yourself? How would you like your friends and classmates to see you? Or which words would you like them to define you with — bossy, arrogant and selfish or words like caring, generous and kind. So whatever you choose, it is clear that it sums up how you are to others and your personality as a whole.

Change takes time, especially when it comes to embedded behaviours and beliefs. Your brain is still developing control over emotions and regulating them until age 25!

So keep challenging yourself and reinforce positive habits of selflessness, generosity and gratitude. With practice, these good behaviours will become natural.

Published in Dawn, Young World, February 17th, 2024

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