7 Habits of an Incredibly Self-Absorbed Person

Max Phillips

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When you see a self-absorbed person, you probably want to grab them by the shoulders and shake all the idiocy out of them — kind of like a broken vending machine.

The dictionary defines it as being “preoccupied with one’s thoughts, interests, etc.” It’s also related to many other negative concepts, such as:

  • Self-preoccupied
  • Self-centered
  • Self-obsessed
  • Egotistical
  • Selfish

Of course, not everyone is perfect. You, like me, potentially exhibit some of the habits in this list. The first step to becoming a better person is identifying your flaws, which is what I intend to accomplish.

1. They feel as if the world owes them

An incredibly self-absorbed person uses whatever trauma they’ve been through as a reason for their unrealistic expectations of life. They will think about how life is unfair and of all the things they think they deserve.

It isn’t difficult to fall into this mindset. When my parents got divorced, I began to think about how unfair life was.

All of my friend’s parents were still together, so why me? I thought I deserved better, so I became a bit of a recluse. It pains me to admit, but for a time, I thought I was better than others because I had ‘experienced trauma.’

To that, I call bullshit.

Just because something bad has happened, it doesn’t mean you’re entitled to whatever you want. You only get what you deserve if you genuinely deserve it. Life won’t just roll over for you.

How you can avoid it

  • Every time something terrible or amazing happens, remind yourself there will always be someone going through a worse, or better time than you.

2. They make everything about them

I’ve encountered a very self-absorbed person before — let’s call her Jane. From what I gather, she seems to manipulate a situation to bring the focus to her troubles.

Someone close to me was having a hard time. She told her group of friends, which is a nerve-wracking thing in itself. Before she knew it, Jane turned the focus of the conversation and directed it towards herself.

Incredibly self-absorbed people want to be the center of attention because they want to hear more about themselves.

If you spoke entirely about yourself on a first date, it would likely push the other person away. The same should go for your everyday relationships.

How you can avoid it

  • Practice listening to the sound of your voice. The more conscious you are of it, the quicker you’ll realize when you’ve overtaken a conversation.

3. Serial interruption and extreme loudness

The first time I met Jane, she nearly burst my eardrum. I walked into the house, and she screamed so loud I thought someone had just put a tarantula on her shoulder. But no, she was playing a card game.

Moreover, I noticed she continually interrupted others. The conversations were more stop-start than my old Peugeot 206. If you cannot sit still and control yourself while someone else is speaking, chances are you’re a little self-absorbed.

Everyone has it in them. Recently, my family and I had a BBQ. I noticed that a conversation was a series of anecdotes — each person rattling off their personal experience as fast as possible. Essentially, it was a quest for validation.

The rush to have the funniest or most unique story can lead to a room of people talking at once, all about themselves. In reality, a good story is one that’s heard.

How you can avoid it

  • Clock the urge that rises up within you to tell your story. Quell it, and wait until the other person is done. If that doesn’t work, notice the frustration on the other person’s face.

4. They never repay a favor

If anyone reading has been to university or even shared a house with multiple people, you’ll understand this pain.

You walk into the kitchen and find World War 3, as my mum would say. So, you clean it until it is spotless. The next morning, another war has commenced. You’re doing a favor, but they never repay you.

A refusal to return a favour is an act of selfishness. My friend often lends make-up, clothes, and advice, but Jane rarely reciprocates.

If you find yourself in an “I would be there for them, but they wouldn’t for me” type of situation — chances are they’re selfish. An overbearing sense of self is a classic characteristic of self-absorbed people.

How you can avoid it

  • When someone does you a favor, write it down in the reminders section on your phone — allocating a specific time to repay them.

5. Covering up secret insecurities

For a long time, I joked around about my parent’s breakup. “Two Christmases!” I often said. While now it is absolutely fine, back then it wasn’t.

At times, I wore the trauma like a badge of honor, as if it made me superior to others. I covered up my insecurities with a larger than life persona.

It took me a while to realize, but it was only a temporary fix. In reality, I needed honest conversations with the people closest to me.

Now, I understand what I went through. I use it as a lesson. It’s no longer an insecurity because I stopped covering it up.

How you can avoid it

  • If you don’t want to talk to anyone about your insecurities, write them down. Research has shown gratitude journaling leads to better physical and psychological health, less aggression, more empathy, and improved relationships.

6. They’re envious of others’ success

Fresh out of university, I thought the world was my oyster. Soon, I’d get a job I wanted with a big company and start making some good money. I’d save and eventually move to London.

It didn’t go that way.

It did for some of my friends. A few of them secured outstanding jobs, and I grew slightly envious. I was happy for them but hurting a little on the outside. Happily, this is natural. It only becomes a problem when you aren’t happy for other’s success; instead spinning it on to yourself — feeling an overwhelming sense of envy instead of pride.

It’s good to use other’s success as a springboard for your own. It took me a while to realize, but comparing yourself to other people is a path to chronic unhappiness — you’re absorbing other’s experiences into your own narrative.

How you can avoid it

  • When you see a friend post about their successes, congratulate them. Not only will they feel good, but you’ll also feel better about yourself. Consequently, you may be less tempted to be envious.

7. They’re friendly at the beginning

A golden rule I learned from my time at university: don’t dive headfirst into a friendship or relationship.

At the start of the degree, I got on with my flatmates exceptionally well. I knew one of them from school, and while we hadn’t talked much, we grew close. Or so I thought.

Fast forward six weeks, and he completely shunned me. To this day, I couldn’t tell you why — it still baffles me. Maybe he was using me until he became comfortable. After all, it’s no surprise he began ignoring me as he got together with one of the other flatmates.

Be wary of these people. Someone you’ve just met may be the friendliest person in the world, but you don’t know them yet.

How you can avoid it

  • Whenever you meet a new group of people, don’t give everything away at first. Keep some privacy between you and remember — you don’t owe them anything.

Last words

As I mentioned, we all likely have remnants of these traits. The first step to being a better person is admitting where you have gone wrong in the past.

If you read this article and someone immediately came to mind, then perhaps it’s either time to talk to them openly or find someone else to hang around.

While only 0.5 — 1% of the general population have narcissistic personality disorder (according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the habits of heavily self-absorbed people can have narcissistic tendencies, and it’s hard to be friends with a narcissist.

Sure, you need to be selfish once in a while, but you need to draw the line at some point.

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